TIME, AND THE End of Time: OR, Two Discourses; The first about Redemption of Time, the se∣cond about Consideration of our latter end.
By John Fox.
Psal. 90. 12.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
•am. 1. 9.
Her filthiness is in her skirts, she ••membreth not her last end, therefore she 〈◊〉 down wonderfully.
•…pudet te reliquias vitae tibi reservare, id solum tempus bonae menti destinare, 〈◊〉 in nullam rem conferri possit! Quam serum est, tunc vivere incipere, cum desinendum est?
Sen. de brev. vit.
London, Printed for George Calvert, and Sam. Sprint, at the Sign of the Ball in Duck-lane. 1670.
Ephes. 5. 16.
IN the beginning of this Chapter the Apostle exhorts Christians to holiness in general, by setting before them a perfect pattern, Be ye followers of God as dear Children, and walk in love. The favou∣rites of Heaven must imitate their Father, and like Gideons brethren, resemble the Children of a King; The precept is, Be ye holy, be ye perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect: Then he goes on to press this great duty, more particularly upon all their several relations, which he urgeth by many Arguments. And in the Text he seemeth to point out the opportunity, to put those and other Christian duties into practise. See that you walk circumspect∣ly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.
Explication of the Words.
Time is taken under * a double notion: there is the space of time, and there is the oppor∣tunity of time: Tem∣pus longum, and tempus commodum; time and opportunity differ? time is the dura∣tion, or succession of so many minutes, hours, days or years, one after the other, from the beginning of a mans life, to the end thereof, Job 7. 1. 14, 14. Is there not an appointed time for man upon Earth? Op∣portunity is the time apted and fitted in order to this or that work or business, viz. a meeting of time and means together, to effect the end. This is called the season or tempestivity of time, when time, tide, and wind meet and clasp together, Eccle. 3. 1. To every thing there is a season or opportuni∣ty of doing: time may be continued when the season of time is ended; the sails of time may be a lost, when the gale of op∣portunity is lost. Every time is not a spring-time, a seed-time, a gaining time. Manna was not to be had but in the morn∣ing. Page 3 The beauty of time is the opportu∣nity of time Eccles. 3. 11. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time, this part of time we are to redeem: Redeeming de∣notes the excellent worth and preciousness of time, a commodity to be valued above the Gold of Ophir. Solomon bids us buy the truth, Prov. 23. 23. Our dear Lord coun∣selled a miserable Church to buy Gold and white rayment, Rev. 3. 18. And Paul ex∣horts us to buy the time, a Jewel of that price, which must be redeemed at any rate. Base or vile things are not wont to be re∣deemed, but things of worth, namely mens Liberties, Estates, Lives, &c. So our pre∣cious time. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
The words contain two general parts.
- 1. An Exhortation to a duty, Redeemeth time.
- 2. The reason of it, because the days are evil.
From the words we may observe this Page 4 Doctrine, which shall be the subject of my ensuing discourse.
Doct. The best of Saints, or the redeemed of God, have need to redeem the time: This Epistle was written to a very famous flou∣rishing Church in the purest times of the Gospel, amongst whom they were called Saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus, Chap. 1. 1. and chosen of God in Christ, before the foundation of the world, Vers. 4. and really converted, and brought into a state of life. Moreover, they had learned the duty of Mortification, one of the hardest lessons in Christianity, Chap. 4. 22. And were also sealed unto the day of Redemption, Chap. 1. 13. 4, 30. and had the earnest of their Hea∣venly Inheritance: And yet, they whose attainments were so high, must redeem the time. The same thing is prest in different terms, Eccles. 9. 10 It's called a work∣ing while it is day, Jo. 9. 4 In the hand∣ling of this position, I shall shew you.
- 1. First, When time may be said to be re∣deemed.
- Page 5 2. What time must be redeemed.
- 3. How time must be redeemed.
- 4. Why time must be redeemed.
- 5. Motives and Directions to help you.
First, When is time redeemed?
Answ. When time and duty like those two twins, Jacob and Esau, take hold one of another; or as two loving yoak-fel∣lows, go hand in hand; when duty attends time, as the shadow the body, or as the Maiden her Mistress.
This is to fill up time with duty, and to take opportunity by the fore-lock, or in Scripture phrase, to do the work of the day, in the day. And to this end opportu∣nities or seasons are to be desired, as they offer an occasion of service, and of doing our duty. This we may see in holy David, Psal. 122. 1. I was glad when they said unto me, come, let us go up to the house of the Lord. When there was a way open to Worship God in the beauty of Holiness, David re∣joyced to see the true Worshippers im∣prove their opportunity, to go to that City, the name of which was Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there, Eze. 48. 38. Page 6 And the Prophet Zechariah brings in the Saints of God rejoycing in the same things, Zech. 8. 20, 21, 22. Let us go spee∣dily to pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem: I will go also. The Saints of old were wont to rejoyce when the Sabbath came, because of the holy and heavenly duties of that day: Opportuni∣ties and duty are always to be joyned, Gal. 6. 10. This is to live according to the wil of God, 1 Pet. 4. 2. and to walk cirspect∣ly, redeeming the time, Eph. 5. 15, 17.
2. When we are truly careful to make up former negligence with double diligence, redeeming the time, we recover our loss. Time, according to this phrase seemeth to be * taken captive, and we must redeem it. Re∣demptions are made by purchase; to re∣deem a thing is to buy it for a price; the price we redeemed it with is labour, tra∣vel, faithful and serious diligence, and greater activity and vigour in the prosecu∣tion of our duty. When what of time or seriousness hath been wanting in one day or duty, is made up and supplied in the Page 7 next; this is the way to repair our sad soul-damages. For the time past of our lives may suffice us to have wrought the will of the will of the Gentils, 1 Pet. 4. 3. Christians, our sins have been many and mighty, but our services few and mean, therefore put the best leg before. Be not as the sluggard, like the door upon the hinges, but as the Sun in the heavens, that rejoyceth to run his race. The hand of the diligent maketh rich, Prov. 10. 4. I heard of one, who being a prisoner in a dark dungeon, when the light was brought to him for a little time to eat his diet, would pull out his Bible and read a Chapter, saying, he could find his mouth in the dark, but no read in the dark. An Argument that he made conscience of re∣deeming his time. Sirs, to be watchful, diligent, laborious in the faithful improve∣ment of all your time, talents, gifts, graces, is the thing here intended. The precept is for labour, Luke 13. 24. 2. Pet. 1. 10. And the diligent in duty hath the promise of the Glory, Heb. 11. 9. To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life, Rom. 2. 7.
Page 8 2. What time must be redeemed?
Answ. All time.
Time is so precious that not any of it must be lost. The whole time of our life must be imployed either about our souls in the service of God, or in the works of our callings, or in order thereunto. Particu∣larly.
- 1. The time of youth.
- 2. The time of health and strength.
- 3. The time of affliction.
- 4. The time of Gospel.
- 5. The time of the Sabbath, or the Lords day in special must be redeem∣ed.
1. First, The time of youth must be re∣deemed. The great God stands much upon priority, to have the first and best, The first ripe fruits, the first that openeth the womb. O then, offer the Isaac of thy youth, the spring and flower of thy age to God, and stay not until the evil day. Begin first with him from whom thou hast thy being, Page 9 go about the grand affair and work of thy dear and never dying soul before thou dost ingulf thy self in the cares of this world. Resolve to present the first ripe fruits, to that good and gracious God, who desireth the first ripe fruits. In the bright morning of thy life match thy soul to the King of glory, and become his Bride be∣fore thou art defloured, and defiled, by sin and the World. If the Celestial seeds of grace be sown in the morning, the pleasant and sweet flowers springing out of these seeds, will invite the Lord Jesus to come and walk in his Garden, Cant. 5. 1. If thou would be the Temple of the Holy Ghost, let him that made the house, be the first and chief Inhabitant, and suffer not thy heart to be a habitation for Dragons and Devils, which will be thine undoing to all eternity.
You young-men, and young-women, know, that the infinitely gracious God holds out the Golden Scepter, and in∣viteth you to come unto him. The ruddy David, the Child Samuel, the young Ti∣mothy, God calls, 1 Samuel 1. 11, 12. 1 Sam. 3. 10. 1 Tim. 4. 12. and the sooner you come, the better it will be. Say then, this instant, behold we come, Page 10 thine we are, thine we will be; come now, and take thine own, God will accept you, and take it kindly, his arms and bosom are open to you, Jer. 2. 2, 3. I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine E∣spousals, when the first fruits was Holiness to the Lord. If you would have the respect and kindness of a God, offer unto him the finstlings of the flock, Gen. 4. 4. viz. thy youthful days. If a company of aged feeble persons, or cripples were tendered to the King for service, he would not ac∣cept them. 1 Sam. 14. 52. Mal. 1. 8, 13, 14. David from his youth, and Josiah while he was young, began to seek the Lord, Psal. 71. 17. 2 Chron. 34. 3. Young men, if you receive the seed of Grace in the morning of your age, it will take the deeper root and impression upon your hearts, and cause you to bring forth fruit in old age. Cloth will keep color best that's dyed in the Wool; and the Vessel will scent longest of that liquor, with which it is first seasoned, O then, Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, Eccl.* 12. 2.
2. The time of health and strength is to be improved: You that are now strong Page 11 and lively, must not expect to be so al∣ways: You as well as others must count upon diseases, sickness, weakness, which will confine you to your Houses, Cham∣bers, and Bed: Now then, while your strength and health of body, and natural vigour is continued, be mindful of your work and time. The great duties and diffi∣culties * in Heavens way are set forth by striving, Wrestling, fighting, running which requires the best of our time and most of our strength. Can a sick and weak man run so as to obtain, or so strive and conflict as to overcome, judge ye: King Saul chose the strong and valiant for his service. 'Tis the strong must run the race, Psal. 19. 4. and the young must overcome the evil one, 1 John 2. 14. If a man had a business of great concernment, or a matter of life and death, that requireth time, strength, and diligence for the doing of it, and should omit it until he were stricken in years, or until sickness and weakness invade him, every one would be ready to charge him with folly.
If a Carrier amongst many stout Page 12 strong Horses, hand one poor, lame, sick Horse, and should lay the burden of the greatest weight and worth upon that poor weak jade, we should conclude that either he was cruel, or that he wanted the under∣standing of a man. This is our case; the great affair of Immortal souls requireth time, strength, diligence, and all little enough. And shall we charge the whole stress of our everlasting state, upon a few days sickness, and weakness, before our death, God forbid, Eccles. 12. 3, 4.
3. The time of affliction must be redeem∣ed. Christians, in the day of adversity we must consider, Eccles. 7. 14. it was the time of Jacob's trouble, when the A∣postle exhorted believers to redeem the time: God speaks by his rod, as well as by his Word, to both which we must have an ear. God sometimes teacheth his, as Gideon the men of Succoth, Judg. 8. 16. with Thorns and Bryars of the wilderness. Let the af∣fliction be of what kind * or degree soever, ei∣ther upon our Persons, Names, Estates, Fami∣lies, Church or Kingdom, yea, and of Page 13 long continuance, we are to look upon it as from God, and for our good. For every affliction speaks to us in the Language of Ehud to Eglon, I have a message unto thee from God: And God will reckon with us for the rods he lays upon us. I shall speak more to this in another place.
4. The time of the Gospel must be re∣deemed. Gospel time is our spiritual har∣vest, and it is notorious folly to sleep or loiter in Harvest. The time of the Gospel is a * time indeed, viz. a time of light, a time of love, a time of life, a time of li∣berty. Now the trumpet of Jubilee soundeth, and all debts and morgages may be taken up and released. Here's li∣berty for the poor Captives, and the opening of the Prison to them that are bound. 'Tis now an accepted time, a day of Salvation, 2 Cor. 6. 2. A time to accept, or a time to be accepted, a golden and glorious time in∣deed. * Behold, now there is a broad and clear way to the Mercy seat; the flaming sword Page 14 is gone, the partition wall is down, all Bars and Gates are removed, an Act of indempnity is proclaim'd, and there is a free admission for all to come and be saved; pardons are ready, Isa. 55. 6, 7. Isa. 45.
Sinners, your dear Lord Jesus, the great Peace-maker, is now an impotant Suitor unto your perishing souls, namely an in∣viting, knocking, wait∣ing, promising Christ, *Prov. 22. 9. 4. Isa. 65. 2. Math. 11. 28. Rev. 3. 20. Cant. 5. 2. John 6. 36. The treasures of grace are opened and offered to sale upon easie terms, without mo∣ney, and without price, Isa. 55. 1. Rev. 3. 17. O make speed and come, make the pur∣chase, buy the pearl of price that's better then Rubies, and you shall have a treasure in heaven. The favour of Gods precious blood, white raiment, tryed gold, and the eternal life of your never dying souls is worth the having. Consider also, that now the Holy Ghost calls and offers his assi∣stance to close the bargain, to tye the mar∣riage knot between Christ and Souls, Heb. 3. If you lose this opportunity, you may Page 15 never have the like. The Spirit and the Bride say come, Rev. last. 17.
5. The time of the Sabbath or Lords day must be redeemed: we must have a specially care of sanctifying that day, it being the Sabbath of the Lord our God. This golden day from morning to night must be spent in the service and worship of our Lord, ei∣ther in publick, private, or secret duties, and no part of it must be lost. Take no liberty upon that day for fro∣thy, vain and unprofi∣table * discourse, or re∣creations, or to ride, buy, sell, or work. This dreadful, God provok∣ing sin of Sabbath-breaking, is a sin in fashion; hundreds in this Nation serve the Devil more upon the Lords day then on other dayes; Then men are at leisure to serve the Devil, and satisfie their lusts, to go to the Ale-house, or to exercise them∣selves in sports and pastimes. O that Ma∣gistrates, Ministers, Masters of Families, and Parents, would look to it, Neh. 13. 17. The Lord of the Sabbath command∣eth thee, that thou and thy Son, thy Page 16 Daughter, thy man servant, and all within thy gate, keep that day holy.
The Sabbath is called a holy convoca∣tion, Lev. 23. 2. and the Lord of the day is an infinitely holy, just, and jealous God. The Sabbath heretofore was called Regina dierum, the Queen of days; in the New Testament it is called the Lords day, Rev. 1. 10. a day in which we commemorate the greatest mercy, viz. the glorious Re∣surrection of our crucified Lord, and that which the purest Christians in the purest times did carefully observe.
In the Primitive times, a serious and strict observation of the Lords day, was a trial or badge of Christianity. When the question was propounded, Servasti Domi∣nicum? hast thou kept the Lords day, the answer was turn'd, Christianus sum, inter∣mittare non possum. I am a Christian, and cannot intermit it. It was a saying of an eminent Divine, that he would judge of a mans Religion according to the reverence and care he had of keeping the Sabbath. Christians, you are to keep your Lords rest, and perform the holy duties of his worship chearfully, reverently, spiritually, Joh. 4. 24. If ever you think to celebrate Page 17 an eternal Sabbath with God in glory, be careful of this duty. To enforce it, consi∣der.
1. How strictly the holy God imposeth it, and to what, end it is, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy, Exod. 20. 8. This blessed day for communion with God, is to be premeditated upon before it cometh; therefore in the evening before the Sabbath, let all your necessary occa∣sions be done up, that you may have no∣thing but what becometh the work of that day: Be like David's good man, Ps. 112. 5. ordering your affairs with discretion, espe∣cially your Spiritual affairs. If you expected the company of some worthy friend, would you be found in a sluttish posture, or sweeping and cleansing your houses on that day, and all out of order? On the Lords day you should vehemently expect the approach and presence of the King of glory, therefore make all ready to enter∣tain him.
2. Remember the excellent Epithetes and Titles of this blessed day, it is called a High day, a Holy day, the holy of the Lord, honour∣able, Isa. 58. 13. Therefore let it be re∣deemed, lose no more Sabbaths.
Page 18 3. Consider the blessings and soul bene∣fits of that day, if it be rightly observed. It is your Lords Market day, in the which you have the precious Oyl, the Golden Mines and treasures of grace opened that day. There are spiritual dainties for your hungry souls, to which you are by Christ invited that day, Isa. 54. 1. The Holy Ghost doth breath and blow that day, by the secret and sweet gales whereof, Saints mount up toward Heaven. The great God comes down, and gracious souls ascend that day, Rev. 1. 10. And the Eunuchs that keep Gods Sabbaths have the promise of a name in his house for ever, Isa. 56. 4, 5. I might add the severe threatnings, and Gods signal judgements upon the propha∣ners of the Sabbath, or Lords day. The man that was found gathering sticks upon the Sabbath, by an immediate command from God, was stoned to death, Numb. 15. 32, 34, 35, 36.
Page 19 How time must be redeemed.
1. By taking and improving all opportunities for the glorifying of God.
2. By laying hold on the present time, and now a day of grace, for settling and securing your everlasting state.
3. By improving the present means of grace for your speedy growth in grace.
4. By doing all the good you can to others while you may.
5. By labouring to keep up constant commu∣nion with God in holy duties.
6. By improving every providence and out∣ward cross for inward and spiritual advan∣tages.
7. By casting up your accounts every day that you may make even with God.
8. By labouring to order every days work in reference to your last day; that having finished you work, you may be fit to leave this World.
1. By taking and improving all occasions for the glorifying of God: Dear Christians, this is your Fathers business, and the Page 20 great Errand for which you had your being.
You were born, and new born, to serve the interest of the holy and blessed God in the * World; this is that glorious end, for which you should spend your strength and time, and lay out your selves to the very utmost. That which is the chief end of your life, viz. to display and propagate Gods glory in the World, must not be neglected; other things are infinitely inferiour, and must be subordi∣nated unto this. For the thoughts and de∣signs of serving the Interest of your Lord, is that which you must be always driving on in this evil World. God expects it, Thou shalt have no other God before me, Exod. 20. 3. God will be exalted in the heart, and in our life too. I will be glori∣fied, saith the Lord, before all the people, Lev. 10. 3. One way or other, the great Creatour will have glory by all his creatu∣res. God made all things for himself, the world to be a visible and wonderful decla∣ration of excellent glory, so that it is due debt, Psal. 29. 1, 2. Psal. 96. 8. Give unto Page 21 the Lord the glory due unto his Name. To walk with God in our whole course, to design his glory, is the prime mark of our Saint-ship, and sincerity. This is the white in the mark we should aim at, the thing we should pursue resolutely, vigorously, with all our might. Whether we Pray, or Preach, or read, or hear, or celebrate Sab∣baths, or converse, exhort, or reprove, or indeed buy, sell, plow, sow, eat, drink, let it not be done for the World, or the in∣terest of the flesh: We should have such a high esteem of God, and such strong de∣sires, and strong affections to him, that the pleasing, praising, and magnifying of of God in all our ways, might be our main endeavour.
Christians, you are chosen out of the World to be Gods witnesses, if you do not appear for God, his honour and interest, none will: All (saith the holy Apostle) seek their own, Phil. 2. 21. (but you are to deny and keep under self,) which is directly opposite to the honour of your God. Wicked men are bold and resolute in a way of sin, to bear up the interest of the Prince of darkness, and will not you be as active for the interest of your Lord? The Mar∣tyrs Page 22 would rather dye then dishonour God, who burning with zeal to Gods glory, would glorifie him in the very fire: God hath made you honourable, Isa. 43. 4. being Kings and Priests, and inrolled you amongst the first born that are written in Heaven. You have a place in his heart, and a name in his house; you are vessels of honour, and shall be honoured, that we might be to the glory of his grace: Your everlasting Father hath mark'd you, and set his stamp and seal upon you, and put a principle of life within you, that we might love him, and live unto him, The man that refus'd to bear up his deceased bro∣thers name, Deut. 25. 9. was to have his face spit on in the face of the Congrega∣tion. But shame and everlasting contempt will be upon their faces, that will not stand up for the honour of the holy God, Dan. 12. 2. Christians, 'tis the sin that reflects dishonour on Gods name, therefore allow it not in your selves, and prevent it what you can in others. Redeem your time, and redeem Gods glory; your days are evil, and you have but a few days for this work, do it, and God will own you and advance you to a Kingdom.
Page 23 Beloved in the Lord, though you differ in other things, agree in this, to glorifie God on Earth, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorifie God, Rom. 15. 5. E∣very one that's godly crying out with holy David; Psal. 34. 3. O magnifie the Lord with me, and let us exalt his Name together, 1 Cor. 10. 32. John 14. Ephes. 1. 6. As many as are perfect, will be thus minded, Psal. 3.
2. By laying hold upon the present time, or now-day of grace, for the setling and securing your everlasting state, or blessed Eternity: Your souls concerns are the greatest, yea of infinite moment; and the things of Eter∣nity claim a superiority. If you purpose to do your souls good, you must first seek the Kingdom of God, Matth. 6. 33. and take the Kingdom of heaven with violence, Matth. 11. 12. Let me dye the death of the righteous, or a Lord have mercy on me, when you come to dye, will not do, Numb. 23. 10. Mat 25. 11. And know sinner, it must be done in this thy day; now, or never, Luke 16. 49. While the door of grace is open, before the Bridge be drawn, and Mer∣cy gone, Isa, 55. 6. This must be done.
1. By complying with the present call Page 24 of the Gospel, in closing immediately with Jesus Christ, and in giving and re∣signing your selves wholly unto him. This is that one thing necessary that must be done speedily to secure your souls, to pro∣vide for their everlasting welfare. There∣fore do not procrastinate or delay it for a World. 'Tis thy grand affair, that must make thee or marr thee to Eternity. He that believes, shall be saved; he that be∣lieves not is condemned already, John 3. 36. John 8. 24. John 1. 12. If you do not now embrace the Lord Jesus, upon the great and glorious terms of the Gospel, you will as certainly be damn'd as if you were in Hell amongst Devils already, 2 Thes. 1. 8, 9. Heb. 2. 3. and 3. 18. You that want Christ, will you welcome Christ, saying with thy soul, Come in thou blessed of the Lord, enter thou King of Glory, Psal. 24. 7. Thine is the Kingdom, take the Throne, sit upon the chiefest Chariot, take up thy lodging in my heart for ever, and suffer not the dead Child to lye in the place of the living Child; a dead World and damnable lusts, where my Lord should lodge: O blessed day, and happy hour, in which the Heir of Heaven, and perishing Page 25 Sinners meet and are married! Here's a match for you! Will you renounce all others, Sin, the devil, and carnal Compa∣nions, and joyn your self to the Prince of Life? Speak the word, and the work is done; open the door, and he will certain∣ly come in, and take up his abode for ever. All that the Father hath given him shall come to him; and him that cometh, he will in no wise cast out, John 6. 37. Rev. 3. 23. Isa. 26. 13. Isa. 44. 5. 2 Cor. 8. 5. Acts 16. 30.
2. By repenting without delay. This is the second great work, in which you must make speed, for untill this be done you are in danger every moment of dropping down to Hell. Remember the sad story of the woman, who when her house was on fire, had her Child burned while she was saving some of her goods. Sinners, your danger is great, your opportunities are fly∣ing, fly you as fast. Let me say to thee as the Angel to Lot, Gen. 19. 16, 17. when in danger of being burned, Escape for thy life, stay not, lest thou be consumed. The life and salvation of thy soul, cannot be secured without this. Acts 11. 18. 2 Cor. 7. 10. Luke 13. 3. Therefore labour to know Page 26 the plague of thy heart, 1 Kings 8. 38. and plow up the fallow ground; sow in tears, and set about it this instant, before this day be ended, this Sermon ended; lest it should be said of thee, as of that woman Jezabel, Rev. 2. 21. I gave her space to re∣pent, and she repented not; and so Gods fury fury come forth like fire, and burn, and none can quench it, Jer. 4. 3, 4.
3. By making it your great business to secure an interest in Christ, getting your evidences for heaven bright and clear. Christians, till you have gotten the pledges and tokens of Gods love to your souls, till you are assured of the truth of your faith, and the sincerity of your repentance, and hereby of the pardon of sin, and of your interst in the Lord Jesus, you can have little comfort in your souls, or boldness towards God. Therefore, with might and main work out your salvation, Phil. 2. 12. Make your calling and election sure, that upon certain grounds you may say as the Church, Lam. 3. 24. The Lord is my por∣tion, faith my soul. Doubtless thou art our Father, Isa. 63. 16. Or as holy Job in his deep affliction, Job 19. 25. I know my Redeemor liveth: I am thine, save me, Page 27 Psal. 19. 91. Truely I am thy Servant, I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine, Cant. 2. 16. Christians, this assuring-Faith is at∣tainable; pray for it, and vigorously press after it, that you may be sealed up unto the day of redemption, that so an entrance may be ministred unto you, into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. 1. 10, 11. And O how well have they redeem'd their precious time, that have secured their never-dy∣ing Souls. Know this, that assurance re∣quires both diligence and perseverance; therefore you must be constant in the use of means, and lay hold on every oppor∣tunity of enjoying the Gospel. This your Lord commendeth in Mary, calling her attendance on the Word preached, a chu∣sing the good part, Luke 10. 42. There you will taste the Chrystal streams, and view the golden Mines of sound Doctrine, and Wells of Salvation. This is the place of spiritual wonders, where the Dead are raised, the Lepers cleansed, the eyes of the Blind opened, and the Devils eject∣ed. Gospel Ordinances are the Golden galleries, where the King of glory Walketh: The Bed, where immortal souls are be∣gotton Page 28 unto God, and in which the bro∣ken hearts do travel till Christ be formed in them. Through these Golden Pipes, the Water of Life is poured out upon thir∣sty panting souls, for the chearing of their spirits. Here is the Doctrine preach'd and words whereby thou must be saved, Acts 10. Here Christs Mother found him, it being the place where the Bridegoom and the Bride meet and solace themselves together, Do not forsake the solemn As∣semblies: remember what Thomas lost by being absent when Christ came. O come to the Posts of Wisdom's doors, and with empty Pitchers set your selves under the Spouts of the Sanctuary. 'Tis upon these waters the Angel moves, and souls are healed: This is the School where all Gods children are taught of God, and instructed unto the Kingdom of heaven.
3. By improving the present means of Grace, for your speedy growth in Grace, that so the grain of Mustard-seed might become a great Tree, Math. 13. 52. The Christian course is compared to a Race, a walk, to the morning light, 1 Cor. 9. 24. Rom. 8. 1. and therefore you must go on, and be progressive whilst you live.
Page 29 Believers should be as greedy of grace, as the men of the World are of gain; be∣cause one grain of Grace is more worth then a house full of Gold, yea better then Rubies. You are compared to Stars, to fruitful Trees planted by the Rivers of Water, and you should glister and shine in this dark night of hellish profaneness, and live down, and convince this accusing debauched generation. The Trees of the Lord should be full of sap, Psal. 104. 16. being grafted in the true Olive, and under the sweet dews of Heaven, you should flourish in the Courts of the Lord, and bring forth fruit in old age, Psal. 92. 12, 13, 14. Christians, keep your Lamps burning, and hold on your way, that the David of grace may wax stronger and stronger. Make no stop, but strain to get and keep before, that you may win the prize. Growth of Grace is required of the highest Gyants, as well as the lowest Dwarf in Grace. They say of the Cro∣codile, he groweth as long as he liveth; and when he ceaseth to grow, he ceaseth to live. How many poor creeping Christi∣ans are there, who can hardly keep life and soul together, being like the door upon Page 30 the hinges, Prov. 26. 14. and why but be∣cause, they are come to a pitch, and past growth, as soon as sprung up above ground. If there be the truth of grace, there will be an endeavour after the strength of grace; where is life; there is growth, 2 Pet. 2. 2. The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, Prov. 4. 18. Sirs up and be doing, press to∣ward the mark, add to your faith, vertue; to vertue, knowledge; to knowledge, temperance, to tempirance, patience; to patience, Godli∣ness; that ye be neither barren nor unfruit∣ful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Be ye therefore stedfast, unmo∣veable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. And if you do these things, you shall ne∣ver fall, 1 Cor. 15. vers. last, 2 Pet. 1. 5, 6, 7, 1.
4. By doing all the good we can to others, while we have opportunity. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men. Hereby we imitate that character of divine, goodness, Ps. 116. 88. Thou art good, and dost good. Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification, Rom. 15. 2. These four ways ye must do good to others.
1. First, This must be done especially Page 31 in your Families•, to them that are more immediately under your charge, and for whom you must shortly give an account to the dreadful Judge of quick and dead. If Christ be come to thy heart, Let Religion be set up in thy house without delay. If thou art really gracious, be relatively good, seeking the profit of many, that they may be saved, 1 Cor. 13. 33 Sirs, if you would not be guilty of soul-blood, soul-murther, resolve to set up the worship of God in your Families, and let Family∣work stoop to Family-worship. Endea∣vour to teach thy children and servants, to know, obey, and serve the Lord, who is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. If you are the Children of saithful Abraham, do as he did, and walk in his path, John 8. 39. The holy heart-searching God witnesseth of Abraham, Gen. 18. 19. I know him, that he will command his Chil∣dren, and his houshold after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord. 'Tis a great trust, to have the care and charge of souls; therefore let not your Children and Ser∣vants live as they list, but command them out of the way of sin, which will certainly bring them to Hell. O that Pa∣rents Page 32 and Masters of Families would take up holy Joshua's resolution, Josh. 24. 14. As for me and my House we will serve the Lord. But on the contrary many seem, as it were, to have banish'd God and the practice of Piety out of their houses; as if Parents and Children, Masters, and Ser∣vants were resolved to serve the Devil, and go to Hell, John 8. 44. The neglect of Family-duties is a dreadful and provoking sin, and that (as a Godly Minister said) which will untile the house, and causeth God to rain curses upon the Table. Read and tremble at the Prophets imprecation, Jerem. 10. 25. Pour out thy fury upon the Heathen, that know the not, and upon the Families that call not on thy Name. How many Prayerless husbands do give occasi∣on to their Wives to say to them, as Zip∣porah to her husband, Exod. 4. 25. A bloody Husband art thou to me. Your Wives, Children and Servants, will sadly bewail it, and cry out living or dying, O that ever we were married to such husbands, born of such Parents, bound to such Ma∣sters, that had no regard to serve God, or care of souls. If you are Christians indeed, let a constant course of reading in the Page 33 Word, Catechising, and Prayer, be kept up in your houses; for when death hath separated you and your relations, it will grieve you to the heart, that you did no more to further the good of their precious Souls, Acts 13. 2, 30.
2. By taking all occasions, where-ever you are, or come, to further the conver∣sion of perishing sinners. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and are taken out of the Iron Furnace, as fire brands out of the burning, where is your pity and bowels to souls in perils? Can you be contented to be happy, Jud. 22. and to go to Heaven alone, & to endeavour by your prayers, counsels and examples, to per∣swade and draw others into Heavens way? Wicked men are active for the Devil, who like Snails leave their slime behind them, where ever they come; and are empty∣ing the poyson of sin one into the other, and so furthering their damnation. What multitudes do you see weltring in their blood, and making post-hast to Hell, whose desperate and deplorable case should excite your compassion, and cause you to speak a word in season for their sal∣vation. Your Dear Lord, whom you Page 34 should imitate, Went about doing good, Act. 10. 38. He improved his opportu∣nity (John 4.) to convert a notorious sinner; though weary and thirsty, was not careful of hastning the meat, because he preferred the opportunity to bring her soul out of Satans snare, and so save her. When at your Tables, or buying, or sel∣ling, or travelling, opportunity may be taken to speak of God, and the things of God, and to leave some conviction upon the company. Thus Philip falling in with the Eunuch whilst he was riding on his way homewards from Jerusalem, closed with him, and was an instrument to save the soul of him he never saw before, Act. 8. And by the heavenly discourse that drop∣ped from the mouth of Mr. Carter, Pastour of Brainford in Suffolk, a Gentlewoman was converted while she was waiting on him in his Chamber, warming his Bed. A Word spoken in season through Gods blessing may save a soul; and it is our duty to endeavour it. Mr. Ignatius Jor∣dan of Exeter, was exceeding instrumen∣tal this way; who would go from house to house, to put his neighbours in mind of their Soul-concerns. Holy David was not Page 35 afraid or ashamed to speak of God hefore Kings, and to tell what God had done for his soul: and said he, I will teach transgres∣sors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee, Psal. 5. 13. for, he that convert∣eth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, Jam. 5. 20. When at any time your neighbous are sick, and under the hand of God, take that oppor∣tunity to visit them, to put them in mind of Death and judgment, and to make them sensible of the necessity of Faith and re∣pentance, without which there can be no hope of Heaven. Our Proverb is, To strike while the Iron is hot. Upon a bed of lan∣guishing, when death looks men in the face, they seem serious, and fit to receive the impression of faithful counsel for their souls. To which joyn serious prayer; for, The prayer of faith (saith the Apostle) shall save the sick, and it may save the soul.
3. By provoking and encouraging our fellow-Brethren in the way to hea∣ven. West must exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, Heb. 3. 13. And provoke one another unto love and to good works; and so much the more, as we see the day approaching, Heb. 10. 24, 25. Page 36 Wicked men, and the Children of the De∣vil, have their go with us, and do stir up one another in the way to Hell; and shall not Saints edifie and build up one another in the most holy Faith, Rom. 14. 19. 15. 2. 1 John 5. 11. Eph. 4. 26. 1 Cor. 14. 26. Jude 20. They that feared the Lord, speak often one to another, Mal. 3. 16. Christians ought and should spend that time in seri∣ous and profitable discourse, which others spend and wast in idle and vain discourse. Say with the man after Gods own heart, Come all that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my Soul. That which you have seen and heard, you must declare to one another, 1 John 3. 3. Hereby be helping forwards towards Heaven, and comforting one another by the comforts wherewith our selves are comforted of God, 2 Cor. 1. 4. When thou art converted, strengthen thy Brethren, Luke 22. 32.
4. We must do good to others, by distri∣buting to their outward wants and neces∣sities, and hereby lay up a treasure in Hea∣ven, before our treasure in Earth, fail, and we lose both, Mat. 19. 21. This is to ho∣nour the Lord with your substance, Prov.Page 37 3. 9. This is to make friends with the un∣righteous Mammon, and to provide your selves bags which wax not old a treasure in the Heaven that faileth not, Luke 12. 33. This duty must not be forgotten, Heb. 13. 16.) because 'tis a sowing of seed, 2 Cor. 9. 6. and it will spring and bring forth a crop or harvest in this or the other world Eccl. 11. 1, 6. God will not forget it, Heb. 6. 10. The Lord Jesus will certainly reward it, Mat. 25. 40. A well done, from Christ hereafter, will compensate all the service of well doers here, Mat. 25. 31.
5. By labouring to keep up constant com∣muniou with God in all holy duties. Christi∣ans, you may lose time in the very service of God; if you are not careful therein to converse with him. Take heed of a slight spirit in serious performances. God looks upon the heart, and most there. Some se∣rious preparation is necessary, before you approach the presence of the high and ho∣ly God. Joseph shav'd himself before he would come into Pharaohs presence. Let your heaven-born souls in every duty, with the love-sick Spouse go out to meet your Lord; and taken up with nothing else. Page 38 'Tis not the picture of the husband, but the presence of the husband, that can sa∣tiate the truely loving longing spouse. It is a blessed sight to see souls working to∣wards God, gasping and panting after the Lord Jesus Christ, Psal. 42. 1, 2. O labour for such a frame of heart, and be∣wail a narrow and contracted spirit. Do not perform duties for duties sake, so as to make duties the end of duties: but as the medium, by which thy soul may draw nigh to God and meet with him: The counte∣nance and presence of God in a duty is the very Suburbs of glory, yea, the very gate of Heaven, Gen. 2•. 17. Let this be in thy thoughts, and the very purpose of thy heart, and expect it vehemently in every access to God. Let thy soul follow hard after God, and say, One thing have I desi∣red of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, Psal. 27. 4. Psal. 84. 2. Duties are only the outward Court, but the form, shell, and carkass of Religion, as Pipes without Water, Breasts without Milk, as Sails without Wind, or as a Body without a Soul, that hath no life. The en∣crease of your grace and holiness depends Page 39 upon your acquaintance and communion with the God of grace. It was Mose his being in the Mount, that made his face to shine; and the Kings being at his Table, that caused the Churches Spikenard to send forth the swell thereof, Cant. 1. 12. The presence of the glorious God on a Sab∣bath, the presence of God in prayer, or at a Sacrament, will be unto thy soul as mar∣row and fatness, and that which will make thy hands to drop with Myrrh, and thy fingers with sweet-smelling Myrrh. Thus it was with the Spouse, when her Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, Cant. 5. 4, 5.
6, By improving every Providence, every Comfort, every Cross, for Gods glory, and our own spiritual advantage. God doth nothing in vain; for he hath a peculiar respect unto the good of his people in all his dispensati∣ons: he doth time, measure, and order e∣very dark and afflicting providence for his Churches advantage, Jer. 24. 5. Rom. 8. 24. Heb. 12. 10, 11. God's chastning and teach∣ing, commonly go together; therefore it is, we must hear the Rod, and who hath appointed it, Mic. 6. 9. The Rod hath a Voice, Beasts Page 40 may feel the rod, but the believer hearts the rod. God's rod should make us like Aaron's rod, bud, blossom, and to bring forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness, Heb. 12. 11. Now if you would be bet∣tered by affliction, endeavour to do three things.
1. To understand the meaning or mind of God in them, for what sins committed, or duties neglected, they are sent: Affli∣ctions are Gods Messengers, and we should never be quiet till we know their Errands, Job 10. 2.
2. See the hand of God in all those af∣flictions. So did David, Psal. 39. 10. and holy Job 1. 11. Hos. 6. 1.
3. Labour to answer the end of God in your straits and troubles; that you might be made more humble, more holy, more heavenly before; that we may say, and find, that it hath beed good for us to be afflicted. We have as much reason to seek unto God for a blessing upon our daily Rod as upon our daily Bread.
7. Time must be redeemed by casting up your accounts every day, and so to make even with God, and not get further into his Page 41 debt. This will be the way to get an ac∣quittance, to procure a pardon, before you are called and forced to an account. Se∣cret duties, if well done, are the sweetest duties; and yet sadly neglected by Saints themselves. You should retire every night, and spend a little time in self-examinati∣on; and when you sit alone, commune with your hearts, and call over the pas∣sages and actions of the day past. We read Gen. 24. 63. That Isaac went out in the evening tide to meditate; a precious duty, but rarely practised. Christians should spend void spaces of time in ejaculatory Prayer, and holy Meditation. And O how hard it is to ascend this Mount of hea∣venly Meditation! 'Tis very easie and de∣lightsom to think of the World, the plea∣sures of Sin, Friends, Riches, Worldly bu∣siness, but to Meditate on God, Heaven, Eternity, the insufficiency and vanity of the creature, the bitterness of sin, the cer∣tainty of death and judgement, (the very inwards of Religion) is very difficult. Be∣fore you lye down upon your beds at night, call your selves to an account by such questions as these:
Page 42 1. I have lived many years in the world; What have I been doing all my days? have I answered the end of my being?
2. Have I had a holy awe of God in the midst of my Worldly business this day? What thoughts of death and Judge∣ment have I had? Where hath my heart been?
3. How have I performed duties this day? What hath been the sins of this day, the mercies of this day, that I may beg the pardon of the one, and bless God for the other?
4. What assistance and communion with God have I had this day in the du∣ties of his worship? have not God and my soul been strangers this day, and many days together?
5. What have I done or spoken for God and his Glory this day, in my Family or else-where? have I demean'd my self like a child of God this day? this is to make Religion our business, or to walk in the fear of the Lord all the day.
8. Improve your time by endeavouring to order every days work with reference to your last day. The end of every duty, and the Page 43 great reason of redeeming time, lies here, namely, that we may be fit to dye, and stand before God. Therefore must we glorifie the infinitely holy God, and make him our friend. Hence it is that we must secure our souls, and speedily get into Jesus Christ, and grow in grace, do good to others, call our selves to an account, and clear our title unto heaven, that all our work may be done up while it is day, and none left to do, let death call when it will.
The reasons why our precious time must be redeemed, are,
- 1. Because the days are evil.
- 2. Because 'tis a considerable part of our Christian wisdom.
Reas. 1. Because the days are evil. This is the Apostles own argument to enforce the duty. Precious time, and evil days run parallel; therefore no part of a little time must be lost. I shall instance in a few par∣ticulars, to make it appear.
1. The Tares of false Doctrine, or Dia∣bolical, Blasphemous, Damnable Opinions, Page 44 do abound. How do the Devils Agents en∣deavour to raise and undermine the very foundations and principles of the Christi∣an faith? Those old and damnable here∣sies that have been condemned and expun∣ged out of the Church of God, are greedily embraced and swallowed down by more then a few, 2 Tim. 3. 1. and 4. 3. 2 Pet. 1. 12. Ye therefore, Beloved, seeing ye knew these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness, 2 Pet. 3. 17. 2 Tim. 1. 13.
2. Mens flagitious lives and most prodigi∣ous sins, makes the days still evil. What execrable abominations are there commit∣ted upon the Stage of this evil World. Ini∣quity abounds, wickedness is in credit, and Religion under disgrace. Many hate the power of Godliness, but are not asham'd to wear the Devil's Livery. May we not complain with the Prophet, and say as Ho∣sea 4. 12. There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the Land. By Swearing, and Lying, and Killing, and Stealing, and committing Adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood; therefore shall the Land mourn. And as Isa. 12. 15. For our trans∣gressions are multiplyed before thee, and our Page 45 sins testifie against us; and truth faileth, and he that departeth from Iniquity, maketh him∣self a pray. And Amos 5. 10, 12, 15. They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, it is an evil time.
3, Many are back slidden and apostati∣sed. How are the mighty fallen! the fal∣ling sickness hath been an Epidemical di∣sease, Matth. 24. 12. Because iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold, Jer. 2. 2. 2 Tim. 1. 15. Rev. 2. 4.
4. Doth not God frown and threaten to remove the Candle-stick, and leave us in darkness? Rev, 2. 5. Amos 8. 9, 11.
5. How is the Family of God, and friends of Christ, devided and subdivided one from another? Moab and Ammon, Herod, and Pilate, can unite against Christ and his In∣terest, when Christ's little Flock are at a distance one unto the other, 1 Cor. 3. 3, 4. And when it thus comes to pass, the days are evil, and our time had need be re∣deem'd.
Reas. 2. Redeeming the time, will render us truly wise. See that you walk circumspect∣ly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, Eph. 5. 15. Eccles. 6. 5. The wise mans heart (saith Solomon) discerneth both Time and Judgement. To work while it is Page 46 day; and to do a great deal of work in a little time, commendeth the wisdom of the Agent. Whatever Learning, Parts, En∣dowments, men have, they are not wise unless they redeem the time. The men of Issachar were of great account with David, because they had understanding of Times, to know what Israel ought to do, 1 Chron. 12. 32. The wise God, in whose hands is our time, taxes the Jews for fools, not obser∣ving the Times, Jer. 8. 7, 8. and so doth our Lord Jesus the Pharisees, Mat. 16. 2, 3. Therefore redeeming the Time is called a walking in wisdom, as the Apostle expres∣seth it, Col. 4. 5.
Ʋse 1. FIrst, If Time will be redeem∣ed, we may infer, that sure then there is an Eternity. Let all the wast∣ers of time, count upon it. It is as cer∣tain as any thing in this world, that there is another World. You may venture your Lives, your Souls, and all, upon the truth of it. Why should the blessed A∣stle Page 47Paul press Believers so strictly to re∣deem time, but in order to their everlast∣ing welfare? Assure thy self of it, and be∣lieve it as firmly, as if both eternities did now present themselves to thy bodily eyes, and thou didst see the Devils and repro∣bates in their chains of darkness, and hear them cry and roar in those eternal flames: and also, see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Saints departed, upon the Throne, singing the Song of Moses, and the Lamb. This is that which is either beleiv'd or fear'd by the best and worst of men: O that it might have a deep and lasting im∣pression upon all your hearts.
2. The opportunity of time is a very preci∣ous privileage. To have a gale of opportu∣nity to convey us to glory, or the white flag upon the wall, inviting us unto our work, to sue out our pardon before it is to late. Time is a rich invaluable Treasure, and yet a transient treasure. * Time (Gods Post) runs apace; yea, flyes as it were upon Eagles Wings, and will be gone. Time is compared to Gol∣den Sands running between two Eterni∣ties, Page 48 and 'tis an infinite mercy they are yet running, that you have a day to work out your salvation, to agree with the Adversary while he is in the way, viz. to make up the breach between God and your souls, Rev. 2. 21. The continuance of Time is very uncertain, The time is short, 1 Cor. 7. 29. The whole is but a span, a very little space. 'Tis but a few days more, and then thy last day; a few hours more, and then they de∣parting hour; a few breathings more, and then thy last breath.
3. Time, as precious as it is, and which should be redeem'd at any rate, is often let slip. What shall we do to pass away the time? is common in some mens mouths; * it's a commodity that lies upon their hands, they know not what to do with it. How profuse and prodigal are most of this great treasure, who make no improvement of it? How often hath opportunity come to us, and waited on us, but very few are found to lay hold upon it? To how many time∣wasters may that killing Text, Luke 19. 41, 42. be applyed? And when he came Page 49 near, he beheld the City, and wept; he could not speak it without tears, saying, If thou hadst known (even thou at least) in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace: but now they are hidden from thine eyes.
4. Spiritual Sloth, whereby we lose so much of our precious time, is a sore evil, and very dangerous. Slothfulness (Solomon faith) casteth into a deep sleep, Prov. 19. 15. The slothful man is like the door on the hinges, Prov, 26. 14. The slothful is brother to the great waster, Prov. 18. 9. Therefore be not slothful, Rom. 12. 11. Heb. 6. 12. We read that Joshua said to the Sun Stand still; but God never said to the soul, Stand still. Religion requires action; labour diligence; for it doth not consist in airy empty no∣tions * and speculations of the head; but in the exer∣cise of the mind and heart. Habits must be exerted, Grace im∣proved, Heaven (that is all up-hill) must be strived for, and gotten, as it were by force and victory. 'Tis a shameful and de∣formed sight, to see a man professing Godliness in a Lethergy, and not prose-Cast Page 50 off thy lazy and dull spirit & temper lest thou be found like that wicked, sloth∣ful and unprofitable servant, who must be cast into utter darkness, Mat. 25. 26. 30. Let me say to you, as the Danites to their brethren, having spy'd out a good Land. Judg. 18. 9. Are ye still? arise, and be not slothful to go, and to possess the Land. The Heavenly Countrey is before you; arise, and work, and lose it not for want of la∣bour. Let not spiritual sloth, by eating out your time, hinder your work, and rob you of your wages, Rev, 3. 11.
5. If the best of Saints should redeem their time, what have sinners need to do? You that have been slumbring and sleeping all your time, and not gone one step in the way to Heaven, but many in the way to Hell, had need up and be doing, or else you will be eternally undone. Whilst it is cal∣led to day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Do not spend so freely of this swift and precious stream of Time, eve∣ry drop of which, hath an influence upon Eternity. Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; cast off there∣fore the work of darkness, and put on the Ar∣mour Page 51 of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the Day; not in Rioting and Drunkenness, not in Chambering and Wantonness, not in Strife and Envying: but put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the Flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. 13. 12, 13, 14.
6. If Time, and every part and moment of it, must be improved; this serves to confute those that reproach serious diligence in Duty, as a needless thing. If the business of our immortal soul, did not require great care and diligence, why doth Paul here enjoyn us to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise? Christians. 'tis your wisdom to know your work, and the time to do it. There's no trifling about eternity; now is the day for the things of your peace, let it not be hid from your eyes. It will be very sad when you are passing into the o∣ther World, to see that you have all your life time been sowing the wind.
Use 2. Examination, Try whether you are redeemers of time, or not. Reflect upon what I have said, and thy Consci∣ence will tell thee, thou hast spent more of thy time in sin and vanity. How Page 52 fruitful are thy duties? Are thy hours for God? Do Time and Duty go hand in hand? Maist thou not cry out, many a time, Diem perdidi! daily I lose a day. Examine your selves, don't silence stop the mouth of Conscience; if so, it will cry aloud another day.
Let me ask you these few questions.
1. Have you seriously bewail'd the loss of time, and begg'd the pardon of it?
2. Have your souls sincerely closed with Jesus Christ, and freely and fully given up, and resigned your selves to him to be his for ever?
3. Do the great concerns of Gods glory, and your salvation, bear down all before them? Canst thou say, though I follow my Calling, and take care for my Family, yet I am most solicious about my everlast∣ing condition? whether they be pleasures or profits, I can say, Pleasures of sin be gone, world stand by. There is a God to serve and honour; I have a soul must be sanctified and saved, I have a short time to redeem, I have a debt to pay, an account to give, a Sentence to receive, an Eternity Page 53 to live. This is not to be slighted; I must and will save my soul, Hell iI most intol∣lerable and eternal.
4. Will you now promise and stand to it, that for the future you will trade more for eternity, and get better evidences for Heaven? Go about the work of Faith and repentance speedily; lest death should call, and you not ready.
Use 3. Of Lamentation, That Pro∣fessors should bo so far from redeeming of time, or of doubling their diligence, that they neglect their duty. I may cry out with the Prophet, call for the mourning wo∣men, for who is not guilty in this kind? Amos 5. 16. Sirs, for this should our souls mourn in secret places; the serious consi∣deration of which is enough to fetch blood from our hearts, and flood of tears from our eyes. How little care is taken in spending that well, which when it is gone, we have no hope it can be restored to us again. Do not you complain of the want of time, seeing you waste time. There are many poor frivolous excuses: the Ser∣vant will say, that he hath a hard, cruel Master; the wife complains of her wick∣ed Husband, the Child of his Ungodly Page 54 Father; another, of the poverty of his Fa∣mily; he can spare no time. Whoever pretends the want of time, let me tell thee, Thou hast a carnal, dead, sinful, slothful heart, the cause of all. Hast thou not time for every other thing, namely, a time for eating, drinking, sleeping, potting, piping, playing, and none for Heaven? Can you rise early, go to bed late, and eat the bread of carefulness, to get the meat that perish∣eth; and find no time for God and your Souls? will this excuse thee another day, thou careless, ignorant, deluded soul? Your Corn, Cattel, your Sheep, your Swine, your Hawks, your Horses, and Dogs are cared for; but for the better part, there's no care at all. Wilt thou tell the great and terrible Judge, at the last day, I would have been saved, but I had no time? There are many that eat their bread by the sweat of their brows, that take time for their souls, who will be brought in as witnesses against you at the last day. Will you squander away your time, and the days evil, and op∣portunities for your souls hardly come at? O consider, it's high time to awake out of sleep.
Exhortation to redeem Time.
Use 4. You have heard what it is to re∣deem time, and how time must be redeem∣ed. Now let all resolve, without delay, to put this so necessary a Duty into practise. Let young ones resolve upon it, and the middle∣aged, with the hoary-heads. Tender unto thy God the cream and flower of thy age, and time, and think it not too soon. In things of far less moment, you are for hast and speed. If you were starving for want of bread, you would think every hour long, till you had a supply. If your bodies were tortured and tormented with pain and sickness, would you think that ease and health might come too soon? If a man were in the Sea near sinking, can a Boat come to soon? Or, can a condemned Male∣factor receive his pardon too soon? hast thou lived without God, and Satan's Slave, and in danger of dropping into Hell, fif∣teen or twenty years, and canst thou get into Christ to secure thy immortal soul too soon? Hast thou not been the Devils too long already? Suppose thou hadst dyed in thy Christless state, where had Page 56 thy soul been? Is is not better to be the Lord's servant, then Satan's Slave? Ask the Godly man that hath made tryal, and he will tell thee. The sooner thou art in a state of Grace, the fitter thou wilt be for glory. Make speed in thy work, do thy spiritual business; thy wages is sure, and thou shalt be blessed. Consider there was never any one repented (living or dying) that they were the Lords, and converted betimes.
And for you that have past the time of youth, in the satisfying youthful lusts, and liv'd, it may be, thirty, forty, or fifty years in a course of sin and vanity, is it not more then time for you, to bethink your selves? In so many years you have made sad work; who can tell how often you have offended, that have been profane Swearers, Drunkards, Lyars, Sabbath-brea∣kers; so long, if you were certain of living so many years to come, yet the Devil, the World, and your Hellish lusts, have had half your time. O let the time past suffice. Know your times are in Gods hands, Psal. 31. 15. So that you are not certain of a day to come: therefore begin and make speed in you work.
Page 57 And for the gray-headed, against whom death hath raised his batteries, you can have but a few sands in your glass, your de∣parting hour cannot be far, your Candle is within the socket, and it may be is come to a stinking snuff: Do you not see the Keepers of the old rotten house begin to tremble, and the strong men bow them∣selves? Expect the next blast, the house to fall. If you that are leaning on your staves, and looking through your spectacles, being ready to enter upon Eternity, don't mind your work immediately, Wo, wo be unto you for ever. If God should work a spi∣ritual Miracle, in converting and pardon∣ing an old grey-headed Sinner, that hath been idle till the leventh hour, Mat. 20. 6. would it not be matter of amazement, and wonder to Men and Angels? For the Devil to be cast out of possession after he hath an Inhabitant threescore years, and more, for such an one to be born again, would be strange indeed. I have heard of an old man, who being really converted, not long before his death caused this to be written on his Tomb: Here lyeth a very aged man, of Three Years Old; He reck∣oned all his time and life before, as lost, Page 58 and worth nothing. Now that you (that have put off God, and hazarded your souls so long already) might lose no more time, consider these motives:
- 1. The present time is Gods time, and must be yours.
- 2. God, the Righteous Judge, will reckon with you for your time.
- 3. You have solemnly promised to redeem it.
- 4. Men take and improve opportunity for other things.
- 5. Satan, your deadly enemy, is always busie, and will lose no time.
- 6. Saving-grace is an active and springing principle.
- 7. Time once had, and lost, cannot be re∣called.
- 8. Cons. How they prize time, that have lost it.
- 9. God hath joyned Time and Duty toge∣ther.
- 10. On this moment of Time, Eternity de∣pends.
Motive 1. Consider, The present time is Gods, and it must be yours. Don't you hear the Holy Ghost say, It is now high Page 59 time to seek the Lord; and calling to you, Come away, make speed? Hos. 10. 12. De∣layes and Laziness, are the two great Gulphs, in which multitudes of souls are drowned, and perish. How many are now in Hell, that purposed and promised to turn to God (as you do) hereafter? O fear and tremble lest it should be your case. To enforce this, take these few hints.
1. The present time hath most Precepts; and Gods Commands, like warrants in the Kings name, must be obeyed on sight there∣of. We say, Must is for the King: If thou art young, read Eccles. 12. 1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, Psal. 95. 6. First seek the Kingdom of God, Mat. 6. 33. You must not stay long, Hos. 13. 13. Bless God, and wonder the golden thread of precious time is spin'd out so long.
2. It hath most promises, and they are great and precious. I will receive you, saith the Lord. They that seek me early shall find me. The present time is an accepted time, in which God may be found, Psal. 32. 6. Now God calls, Heb.Page 60 3, 7. and you may come and welcome, John 6. 37. And it will be matter of un∣speakable comfort to a man dying & look∣ing into Eternity, to know he hath done the work for which he had his life and time.
3. You have the hest examples. And 'tis our duty to imitate and follow them who are gone to Heaven before. Your dead Lord would lose no time; I must do the work of him that sent me, while it is day. When faithful Abraham was to offer his Son Isaac, he made hast, Gen. 22. 31. He rose up early in the morning. Mary Mag∣dalan came early in the morning to enquire after, and to see the Lord Jesus, whom her soul loved, Mark. 16. 2.
Motive 2. God the righteous Judge will reckon with you for your time. Not onely for your health, wealth, strength, parts, graces, memories, but for every minute of your time. If at the day of judgement we must give an account for every idle word, much more for so great a Talent, so rich a Treasure as Time. A Heathen could say, that every wise man must tam otii quam ne∣gottii rationem reddere, give an account of his business, and of his idleness. You may, Page 61 like fools, waste your time, neglect your duty, and stand out against the call of God; but it will cost your dear, Eccl. 11. 9. Rejoyce, O young man in thy youth, and let thine heart chear thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, for all these things God will bring thee unto judgement. The great Landlord of your time, is at great expence to continue it. Those Lumina∣ries of Heaven, over your heads; and principally, the Prince of all the lights of Heaven, the Sun, that glorious and migh∣ty Gyant, the Prince and Crown of all cor∣poral Creatures, do tire, and waste (as it were their Celestial vigour, to beget and give Time. Time is so rich a Jewel, that God would have one man value it to ano∣ther. If one man had hurt another, he was to pay both for his cure and loss of time, Exod, 21. 18, 19. So must you at the great day of account, for all your time, for every Sermon you have heard, for every Sabbath and Sacrament you have had all your days.
Motive 3. You have all promised to redeem your time. The Vows of Jehovah are up∣on you. Say with David, I will pay my Page 62 Vows. If the Godly man will perform his promise to his hurt, Psal. 15. 4. Much more should you for your profit. Take the Counsel of the Wise Man, Eccles. 5. 4, 5. When thou vowest a vow unto God, de∣fer not to pay it: pay that which thou hast vowed: better it is that thou should not vow, then to vow and not pay. How often you have engaged your selves to leave your known sins, and to live soberly, and righ∣teously, and Godly in this present World, let Conscience witness. If you that have resolved to read, pray, sanctifie the Sab∣bath, &c. should still waste and trifle a∣way the time, it will not only be a breach of promise; but a sin against light, for which thy heart will reproach thee; and if thine heart condemn thee, God is greater then thine heart, and knoweth all things, 1. John 3. 20. Remember the promises thou didst make at such a Sacrament, or when struck at the heart by such and such a Sermon, or when death was at thy Fa∣mily, or thy self near unto it; and defer not to perform thy Covenant: God, who is a God of truth, will not be mocked; and that you shall know ere it be long. Jeptha would perform his vow to God; I have,Page 63 said he, opened my mouth unto the Lord, I cannot go back, Judg. 11. 34, 35. Herod, for his Oath sake, murdered John the Baptist, Matth. 14. 9, 10. How many times hast thou engagest to dedicate and devote thy self to God and his Service? therefore say, Lord, for my promise sake, I will sacrifice my self, and become thine, re∣deeming my time for thy glory, and mine own Salvation.
Motive 4. Cons. Men take and improve opportunities for other things. The fittest and best time is taken for buying, selling, plowing, sowing, and gathering into Barns; and especially in evil and hard times. Men will rise early, run, ride, and labour, in the very fire, as the Prophet speaketh. Redeeming the time, 'tis a Metaphor taken from Merchants, that will be early in the Market, lest the opportunity of buying the best Commodities should be lost. The Proverb is, that Time and Tide, stay for no man; and that we must make Hay while the Sun shineth. There's none but the slug∣gard will sleep in Harvest; the diligent Husband-man will not lose a day then. Christians, in this great affair of your pre∣cious, immortal and never-dying souls, do Page 64 as men about other things: Millers and Marriners observe and improve every gale of wind; yea, the Stork in the Heaven, the Turtle, the Crane, and the Swallow, know and observe the time of their coming, Jer. 8. 7. They that say, to day or to morrow we will go into such a City, and buy, and get gain, Jam. 4. 2. will as we say, turn every stone, and lose no time to buy a good bargain, to make a rich purchase, and shall we redeem our time, and make the best of our spiritual markets, to make provision for our souls, that are more worth then all the world?
Motive 5. Satan, that Enemy, and grand Soul-deluder, is always busie. He is an active Devil, and he loveth to find us idle. Christians, this old Serpent is never more at work, then when we are idle: for idle∣ness layeth a man open to all his Hellish Snares and temptations, and then if temp∣tations come, you are out of Gods way; and if Satan find you on his ground, he will be too hard for you. The Apostle tells us he goeth about, and still offers temptations for the wasting of our time. This roaring Lyon hath a large circuit; for ever since Page 65 he was cast out of Heaven, he hath been going to and fro in the Earth, and walk∣ing up and down in it, John 1. 7. His grand design is to devour, 1 Pet. 5. 8. This black Prince loves to prey upon pre∣cious souls; the soul being that sweet mor∣sel he is still gaping at. This Adversary hath his several walks, he is in the Shop, in the Market, in the Street, in the Cham∣ber, in the Closet, and every where where sin is, and he is also in the Congregation among the Assemblies of the Saints, when they are about spiritual service. When Joshua the High-Priest stood before the Lord, Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him, Zech. 3. 1. This dead∣ly enemy was with Christ, and his Disci∣ples at the Passover, for there he entred in∣to Judas, John 13. 26, 27. Therefore, Chri∣stians, we have need to work and watch too. The devil, that hates you and all man∣kind, doth bestir himself; he goeth forth into the broad way of prophaneness, and there he tenders and tempts men with sen∣sual objects, and he entreth in the by-path of error, appearing as an Angel of light, and enticeth wanton wits to suck down the poyson of his damnable doctrine. And Page 66 when once he hath injected his poyson into the head, how much time is spent in writing and disputing to defend his delu∣sions? We read, that it was while men slept, this enemy (Satan) came and sow∣ed Tares among the Wheat, Matth. 13. 25. 39. He is a working, busie Devil, ne∣ver at leisure, but is always spreading his Baits, and casting his Snares and Nets to catch souls. Therefore be ye sober, vigi∣lant, and watch unto prayer, and em∣ploy this talent of precious time well. Idleness is Satans Shop and the Mother of Mischief. David was at leisure, and on the roof of his house, when Satan pre∣vailed by that sad temptation, 2 Sam. 11. 3. Therefore set God alwayes before you, keep in his way, and be doing your duty; that you may be kept from his fiery darts The flying Bird is seldom shot. The cautious, diligent, active soul is most secure.
Motive 6. Time once gone cannot be re∣called. Time past, is gone for ever; Time present (if we may so call it) is going; fu∣ture Time is most uncertain; neither Men or Angels can hinder, or stop it; turn, or Page 67 bring it back again. If opportunities be not now taken, they may never be had. Be good husbands of your time, and work now, or you may never work. Time's re∣demption, may be your salvation, therefore follow and improve the light, before dark∣ness overtake you. You all know that yesterday, or the last hour, will never come again. If thou hadst as much treasure in thy custody or power, as the whole world is worth, it cannot purchase one minute of time past. You that are old, may as ea∣sily call back your youth, or become young again, as recover any part of this precious time Luke 19. 42.
Motive 7. The nature of saving-Grace, is working and springing up, which turneth all the powers and faculties of the Soul Heaven-ward. Such is the activity and vi∣gour of this gracious nature, that it will bring a man to a What wilt thou have me to do? Acts 9. 6. Ephes. 2. 10. 'Tis not a lazy and languid thing, but full of life and power. The state of sin in Scripture, is de∣scribed by death and darkness, which are a cessation and privation of life, and light, and motion: and the state of Grace is Page 68 described by life, Eph. 2. which is power∣ful, and most vivacious, like the Sword of the Lord, and Gideon, doing great things. It is no wonder to see the men of the world, that are born after the flesh, to be dull, sluggish and unactive. But you that have a Divine Nature, and a Spirit of life and power in your hearts, should be dili∣gent and laborious, 2 Tim. 1. 6. Rom. 8. 2. This living principle of Grace, made the holy Apostle, who excited others to re∣deem their time, so to employ his Talent; the Grace of God in him, made him labour more then they all, 1 Cor. 15. 10. The streams of grace that flow into the Soul, are called Rivers of Living Water, John 7. 31. and a Well of water springing up unto eternal life, John 4. 14. So that Christi∣ans have greater advantage of doing good, and of living to Gods glory. Therefore stir up the grace of God that is in you; cast off slothfulness, and put on diligence; and laying aside every weight, rejoyce (as the Son) to run the Race that is set before you.
Motive 8. Consider, How highly they prize time, that have lost it. and are come to the end of it; and who, with the loss of Page 69 time, have lost themselves. We have many dreadful Examples that stand as so many Sea-marks, to warn us to take heed.
The poor Jews were utterly undone by it. The Lord only knowns how many of them are now in flames, that suffer the vengeance of Eternal Fire, for not im∣proving the day of Grace, Luke 19. 42. Matth. 23. 37. The foolish Virgins hav∣ing lost the opportunity of buying Oyl, came too late to the door. And Esan staid too long to get the blessing. Most do things when it is too late. Men go to bed late, rise late, go to Market late, come to Church late, and make peace with God when it is too late. The old Israelites marched towards Canaan when is was too late, and so lost that good Land. O how dreadful will mercy slighted and time lost be, to the awakened soul, when it comes to dye, seeing it self in a Christless state! It was a speech once of a woman in terror of Conscience, when divers Ministers and others came to her in a way of comfort∣ing her; she looks with a ghastly counte∣nance upon them, and gives them this answer, Call back time again; if you can, Page 70 call back time again, then there may be hopes for me: but time is gone. Another great Lady upon her death-bed, cryed out, All too late, all too late; a World of Wealth for an inch of Time. Another Gentlewoman, (of whom I have heard) who was wont to employ this precious Talent of Time, in playing at Cards, and such like-Games, coming from her sport late in the night, finding her Waiting-maid (that was reli∣gious) reading in a good Book, and cast∣ing her eyes in the Book over the Maids shoulder, speaks these words, or to this effect: Thou poor melancholly soul! whut always reading, and spending thy time thus! wilt thou take no comfort in thy life? The Gentlewoman retiring to her Chamber went to bed. The maid lodging in the same room, perceived her Mistress under great dsquiet and perturbation of Spirit, sighing and groaning bitterly. The Servant hear∣ing of it, several times called to her to know the reason she could not sleep: the Maid urging of her, at last she cryed out & said, I read this word ETERNITY in thy Book, which hath so pierced my heart, that I believe I shall never sleep more, till I have a better assurance of mine Eternity. Ano∣ther Page 71 wanton Lady, that hath wasted her time in sensuallity, who dyed not many weeks past, told her vicious Mother, stand∣ing by her bed-side, That it was too late to speak of God to her; for you have undone me, and I am going to Hell before, and you will certainly come after. It is common with men dying and going into the other World, sadly to bewail the loss of time. When they fear Mercy is going, Patience expiring, and the time respited for repen∣tance, over, then they prize opportunities at another rate. And O what would the damned in Hell give to be admitted into the World, if they might but enjoy one day, or hour, to deliver themselves from that dreadful place of torment, Luke 16. 27, 28.
Motive 9. Consider, God hath joyned Time and Duty together: that in two re∣spects.
- 1. In respect of Assistance.
- 2. In respect of Acceptance.
1. God hath joyn'd Time and Duty to∣gether, in respect of Assistance: and what Infinite Majesty hath joyned, must not by any means be separated. Work, and Time, Opportunity and Duty; must go Page 72 together. Adam had his work in Paradice before the fall. And second Adam was always in action, to the end of his days; His meat and drink was to do the will of his Father. Nullus mihi per otium dies exit, I have no day for idleness, was the language of a Heathen. Christians, do your work in season, and you shall have Assistance. God's opportunity is as wind to the Sails, or as Oyl to the Wheels, which will make you glide through diffi∣cult duties with much facility. If we work in God's time, God will work with us, and we shall be workers together with him. Gospel-time is in order to Gospel∣work; spiritual Opportunities are ap∣pointed and continued for spiritual Du∣ties. The work of faith, repentance, mor∣tification of sin, the plucking out right eyes, the chopping off right arms, fighting and wrestling with the Powers and Prince of darkness, are exceeding difficult: but God whose arm is potent, will give power: and how easily will great work or service be done, when there is great assistance in the doing of it? A burden that is too hea∣vy for one to lift, by the help of another will come up easie. This Paul witnesseth, Phil. 4. 13. I can do all things through Page 73 Christ which strengthneth me. The feeble Jews, by the help of Jehovah, raised the Walls of Jerusalem from its very rubbish, and that in spight of all opposition, Neh. 3. 2, 3. and 6. 15. they plying the work, the Lord was with them by his great power and strong hand: they made their prayer unto God, when strength was al∣most decayed, and laboured in the work from the rising of the morning, till the Stars appeared; and so the Wall was fi∣nished. Let time be redeemed, and then a great deal of work may be done in a little time: God's opportunity will make believing and repenting easie, Luke 19. 6. Acts 2. 37. 41. Acts 16. 14. 34. O there∣fore while it is day, work out your Salva∣tion; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, Phil. 2. 12, 13.
2. God hath joyned Time and Duty, in respect of Acceptance. Every time is not an accepted time, 2 Cor. 6. 2. The Isruelites that refused to march up to Ca∣naan at Gods command, lost their oppor∣tunity, and afterward he would neither assist them nor accept them. If thou stay∣est till God's time be past and gone, art Page 74 thou sure God will accept thee hereafter? There is a time when God will not be found, will not be spoken withal, Isa. 55. 6. Esau sought the blessing with tears, and it was denied him, Heb. 12. 17. Prov. 1. 29. Do not say, what need so much speed? what need so much impro∣ving of time, so much reading, hearing, praying, preaching? but resolve upon thy now or never.
Motive 10. Lastly, Consider, That on the present moment of time eternity depends. This deep and heart-affecting Meditati∣on should even swallow us up, and cause us to hasten unto our work. Let go Time's opportunity, and you will cer∣tainly be ruin'd to all Eternity. The Painter being asked why he was so exact in drawing his Lines, answered, I paint for Eternity. Consider, that thou must believe and repent for Eternity, hear and pray for Eternity, fear, love, obey for Eterni∣ty. A work of infinite moment, depends on a moment of Time. This day thou mayest throw thy last Cast for Eternity. This swift Post will not stop, no not for a moment. Secure soul! dost thou see E∣ternity before thee, even at thy door, and Page 75 that there is but a step between thee and an endless state, and wilt thou not be more industrious for thy Soul, and Heaven? If a man were to run or wrestle for his Life, or for a Crown, or Kingdom, how would he strain, and strive, and that with all his might? If a man were to go over Sea for his life, and had but one gale of wind in his Life-time, would he come to the wa∣ter-side and lose it; If a Malefactor had but a day appointed him to sue out his par∣don, would he not improve it? This is all our cases: God hath given us but a day to work; when the day is ended, it will be night for ever, Luk. 19. 19, 42. John 9. 4. Now it may be, Christ is at the door, offering thee help, open to him, lest he withdraw, and come no more. Its pro∣bable the spirit of Life and Power, striveth to turn thee to God, O refuse not to com∣ply with it, lest the Spirit serve thee, as Samuel did Saul, that came no more to him, 1 Sam. 15. 35. I shall conclude the Motives with the words of the Psalmist, to day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, left God swear in his wrath, that you shall not enter into his rest, Psal. 91. 7. 11.
Page 76 Now if thou art resolved to put this duty into practice; through the help of Heaven, speedily and diligently observe these Directions.
Directions for the redeeming of Time.
- 1. Take heed and beware of those things which rob you of your time.
- 2. Labour to convince your selves of the worth of time, and value it accordingly.
- 3. Set apart a considerable portion of time for the most secret duties.
- 4. Cast and compute your time.
- 5. Maintain a holy fear upon thy heart of coming to the end of time, before thy work be done.
Direct. 1. First, Take heed of those things which rob you of your time. Now the thieves that will rob you of this exceeding rich Jewel, are these six, against which watch as for thy life.
- 1. Vain Thoughts.
- 2. Worldly Cares.
- 3. Ʋnnecessary Visits.
- 4. Ʋnprofitable Discourse.
- 5. Excessive indulging of the outward man.
- Page 77 6. Ʋnlawful or immoderate recrea∣tions.
1. Vain Thoughts. These are secret and subtile Thieves, that insensibly rob us of our time every day, and in every duty; vain impertinent and wicked thoughts like Pharaoh's Frogs, creep and crowd in up∣on us, and thrust out good thoughts; so that we cannot keep our mind steddy and compos'd. Solomon saith, Prov. 17. 24. The eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth; so are our thoughts gadding, wandring up and down here and there and every where. These evil thoughts spring and rise from within us, as naturally as sparks from the fire, Gen. 6. 5. Matth. 15. 19. Out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts. And they follow us continually into every place, and in every service, as the Birds on Abraham's Sacrifices, which Abraham did drive away. They must not Lodge, Jerem. 4. 14. Though we cannot hinder the Fowls from flying in the Air, or over our heads, we may hinder them from pitching on our heads. Holy David had vain thoughts, but he hated them, Psal. 119. 113. There is not a minute, but many thoughts pass from us, as, in a minute, sands do in an Hour-glass, Psal. 94. 19. Christians, con∣sider Page 78 how much of that time is lost, which you spend in holy duties, by vain thoughts; when we should draw nigh to God, our hearts, by our thoughts, steal away. And there are but a few awakened tender spirits, truly sensible of this intrinsical secret evil; though much of a Christian's duty, and the very inwards of Religion, lies in observing the thoughts, and in watching the heart. Therefore above all keeping, keep thy heart, Prov. 4. 23. and take heed to thy spirit, Mal. 2. 15, 16.
2. Worldly Cares are great wasters of our precious time. The most do mind Earthly things, Phil. 3. 19. Men heads, hearts and thoughts, are so intent about the things that perish, that they do hard∣ly entertain a serious thought of God and Eternity, all the day. God is not in all their thoughts. They that are the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh, Rom. 8. 5. and not only the children of this World, but Professors themselves, are so eager and vehement in the pursuit of this poor Earth, that almost all their time and strength is spent about it. And while men are so careful and solicious about ma∣ny things, and in a very crowd and hurry of business, it is impossible for them to re∣deem Page 79 time for God and their souls. As soon as their eyes are open, and the things of the World stand as so many Suitors, to invite and draw them. Some have their hearts so over-charged and surfeited with the Cares and fears of this evil world, that their abundance will not suffer them to sleep, Luke 21. 4. Eccles. 5. 12. Now when it is thus, Opportunities are lost, Souls are neglected, Holy duties omitted, or if used, they are very unsuccessful, Ezek. 33. 31. Math. 13. 22. Therefore take heed of the world, so great a devourer of our time.
3. Ʋnnecessary visits, are great wasters of our time: of which you must take heed, it being no mark of Godliness but the contrary. The wise man speaking of the vicious and vertous Woman, giveth them this different Character, viz. the one, her feet abideth not in her House, Eccl. 7. 11. the other looketh well to the wayes of her houshold, and eateth not the bread of idleness, Prov. 31. 27. And we read of some, that wandred about from house to house, being idle Tatlers, and busie-bodies, speaking things which they ought not, 1 Tim. 5. 13. How many do trifile away the time in going from house to house? to whom Page 80 it may be said, as Pharaoh to the oppressed Israelites, Ye are idle, ye are idle. Let that time you have to spare from your Calling and Families, be spent in Reading, Prayer, or other Religious exercises: and in all your Visits, intend and design the doing of good, or the receiving of good; and not the passing away of this precious time. When your friends or neighbours are sick, and under the hand of God, go to them, and give them counsel for their souls, Rom. 15. 2.
4. Ʋnprofitable Discourse robbeth us of much time. Some employ their Tongues in telling fabulous or filthy stories; others in discoursing of Parties and Opinions, and in talking of the Faults and Miscarria∣ges of other men. Some about the Times, and enquiring after News. Thus did the men of Athens, who spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing, Acts 17. 21. And the most, when they come together, pass away the time in discoursing of the World, and the concerns of it. But let Christians, when they converse, imitate their Lord; the words that proceeded out of his mouth, were gracious words: Walk in wisdom to∣ward them that art without, redeeming the Page 81 time. Let your speech be always with Grace; seasoned with Salt, that you know how you ought to answer every man; Col. 4. 5, 6.
5. Excessive indulging the outward man. Much of our time is spent in making pro∣vision for the flesh, Rom. 13. last. Some hours are taken up every day in providing for the belly, to please the Pallate; and some at their Tables take up much time. Others to gratifie a proud fancy, much time is wasted in decking and trimming the body. There are those that spend more time in looking into a glass, then up∣on their knees in praying to God. A godly Minister coming to a Gentlewomans house to Dinner, where he waited from ten a clock till one, all the while she was dres∣sing, burst out in weeping, to think that she should spend so much time in Trimming, and he so little in Praying. Also, exces∣sive Sleep doth devour a great part of our short life and time. When we should be on our knees in our Closet, we are in our beds, or on our Couches. Others waste their precious time in Ale-houses, and Ta∣vers, and Brothel-houses, from day to day, God's day being not exempted, Against Page 82 such there is a dreadful Wo; Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till Wine inflame them, Isa. 5. 11, 12.
6. Ʋnlawful or immoderate Recreations, are the occasions of great expence of time. Recreation (not to be used but as Physick, in case of need) is an ingrosser and wafter of our time, that's dear and precious. Many are so excessive in it, as if they were sent into the World to do nothing but sport. What time is spent is Carding, Dicing, Dancing, Interludes, Stage-plays, Bear and Bull-baitings, Hunting, Hawking, and in reading Romantick Books? which, for Men and Women professing the Go∣spel, are not of good report, Phil. 4. 8. The turning of the Bible or of some good Book, is more becoming a Christian, then turning a pair of Cards, a Game so much accustomed by the Prophane, and an occasion of much sin. These things will cause bitterness and horror at last; they are Honey to the Fansie, but a sting to the Conscience. Consider which will afford most comfort dying; Item, so many days in recreation, or so many days in humi∣liation; Page 83 so many hours in prayer, or so many hours in playing at Cards; so many hours in vain filthy discourse, or so many hours in serious and Heavenly conference; Item, so many Sabbaths in reading, hear∣ing and singing of Psalms, or so many Sabbaths spent in eating, drinking, walk∣ing, or worse. Holy Bradford counted that hour lost, wherein he had not done some good. Titus Vespasian was wont to say, Diem perdidi, I have lost a day.
Direct. 2. Set a due estimate upon this precious Jewel of Time, that your hearts may be so, truly tender, as to make con∣science of wasting of it. A Godly Mi∣nister was wont to say when he saw the morning clear and serene, 'Tis pity this day should be lost. O value your time; reckon more of one Sabbath, then of the best Fair or Market that ever thou wasted in all thy life. Set upon the now day of Grace, the price of Eternity. I have told you already the damned in Hell (if it might be) would give a World for one opportunity to make peace with God.
Direct. 3. Set apart some considerable por∣tion of time, for the most secret duties.
Page 84 1. For ordinary secret prayer and me∣ditation, set some time apart in the mor∣ning and evening of every day; and do not catch and snatch at praying-times. Ma∣ny serve the world and the flesh all day, and put off God with a few words or sleepy prayers at night. Prayer is the breath of the new Creature, and the sign of spiritual life, Act. 9. 6. Christians let your prayers be secret, sincere, fervent, constant. The way to Heaven (said a good man) is through the Closet, and they that have been eminent in Piety, have been excel∣lent in Prayer. Holy David would not let a morning pass without prayer, Psal. 5. 3. Yea, three times a day he was at this bles∣sed duty, Psa. 55. 17. It was his Element and constant employment, Psal. 109. 4. Your prayer must be fervent if it be effe∣ctual. Prayer without fervency, is as a Bullet without Powder, or as a Bird with∣out wings, that cannot mount up into the Air. Holy fire must be put to the daily Sacrifice. God answers by Fire. He that looks upon the heart, regards the man∣ner of your Prayers, more then the num∣ber of your prayers. Cold, slight mum∣bling over a few Petitions, either out of custom, or to stop the mouth of conscience, Page 85 will not prevail, Ps. 25. i. Isa. 26. 9. Jam. 5. 15. Christians, the time that you spend with God in secret, is the sweetest time, and best improved. Therefore if thou lovest thy life, be in love with prayer. Re∣solve to spend some time with God in pri∣vate every day.
2. Extraordinary private Fastings, is a duty very necessary, and practised but by a few. Soul-afflicting dayes between God and a man's self, would though grace, be much for spiritual advantage, Husbands should mourn apart, and their Wives a∣part, Zech. 12. 12, 13. Fasting-days will be Soul-fatting days, Acts 10. 30. and Blessed are they that mourn, Mat. 5. 4.
3. The third private duty is self-exami∣nation. When thou art alone, ask thy self these questions.
1. Is it most certain, that I am in a state of Grace?
2. Is Grace thriving? Doth my inward man prosper?
3. Do I live in no known sin against Conscience, Psal. 19. 1. 28. and exercise my self unto Godliness?
Page 86 4. Do I make conscience of redeeming time, so as to joyn time and duty toge∣together? A Precious Servant of the Lord was wont to say, if a man could answer to these two Questions, he need not to fear? First, Am I Gods child? Secondly, Am I in Gods way? Psal. 119. 94.
Direct. 4. If you would redeem your time, compute your time. Pray thou mayest do it, Psal. 90. 12. Psal. 39. 4. Numbring the People was David's sin, but numbring his days a duty. 'Tis common for men to number their Sheep, their Cattel, Houses, Lands, Wares, Money, but to number our days, is a rare kind of numbring: for the neglect of which, what arears are we fallen into, with the great Land-lord of our time? Christians, divide your time into parcels, and consider how little God hath; how much time was spent in thy Infancy and Child-hood, before thou hadst the use of reason, how much is spent in our Cal∣lings and Employments about the world, how much in Eating and Drinking and unprofitable discourse, besides all this, half, or more, is spent in sleeping: so that in the work of God, and about our im∣mortal souls, we employ but a very little. Page 87 Therefore 'tis more then time to redeem it.
Direct. 5. Maintain always a holy fear upon thy heart of coming to the end of time be∣fore thy work be done. Live continually in an expectation of your great changes. Buy Sell, Converse, Read, Pray, Hear, and do all as dying men, and passing to receive the recompence of endless Joy or Wo. Christians, if you would work while it is day; If you would glorifie God on Earth, If you would secure and eternally save your immortal souls; If you would not be a prey to the Prince of Darkness; If you would stand with comfort before the Lord Jesus, at his dreadful Bar; If you would not spend your days without hope: Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with you.
Deut. 32. 29.
IT is always seasonable to insist on such subjects as direct us to speak of another world, especially in time of great Sickness and Mortality, in which thousands of souls night and day have been crowding into Eternity (witness the late dreadful Plague in sixty five.) I therefore made choice of this serious, and heart-waken∣ing subject, that drowsie, secure souls might be awakened to a deep consideration of the world to come. The whole Chapter is stiled the Song of Moses, his Swan-like Song, or Song before his death, the dying words of that eminent faithful servant of God; and if the words of a dying man are to be regarded, how much the words of a dying Moses. This Moses being ready to go into the other world, composeth this Page 89 song, of which the Text is apart; and dy∣ing words are weighty, and make the deep∣est impression.
- This song is partly
In the Narrative you have
1. A Narration of the infinite great∣ness, and most glorious attributes of the God of Israel, introduced with a pathetical and awakening acclamation: Give ear O ye Heavens, and I will speak; and hear O Earth the words of my mouth.
2. We have a Narration of their cor∣ruption, ingratitude, and rebellion, verse 5. 6. They have corrupted themselves, they are a perverse and crooked generation: do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people, and unwise. Notwithstanding the remarkable favours, and rare indulgence of God toward them, yet they forsook him, provoked him to jealousie with strange Gods, and sacrificed to Devils, and not unto God, Vers. 16. 17. Because of which he threatens.
1. To hide his face from them, then which nothing more bitter to the soul, Ver. 20.
Page 90 2. To inflict variety of sore temporal judgements upon them, then which no∣thing more burthensome to the body. I will heap mischief upon them, I will spend mine Arrows upon them; they shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction, the sword without, and terrour within, shall destroy both the young man, and the Virgin, with a man of gray hairs; for a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn to he lowest Hell. And Vers. 27. God gives the reason why he would not utterly destroy them, and make a full end of them. Were it not that I feared the wrath of the envying, &c.
And now the words of the Text seem to be the Application of the whole, O that they would consider their latter end.
You may look upon these words as it were a Mount cast up, by which the peo∣ple of Israel might take a view of things to come, and have a prospect of what should befal them in their latter end. O that they were wise! to be wise is opposit to that brutishness, ver. 28. They were a Nation •oid of counsel, for they wanted the right exercise of reason, and that wisdom which is from above, to observe, and improve Page 91 the gracious providences and dispensati∣ons of God.
That they would consider: Consideration is a fixed act of the understanding or mind, in order to practice; for doing and consi∣dering are frequently joyned together, Judg. 18. 14. Now therefore consider what ye have to do, Heb. 10. 27. Let us consider one an other to provoke unto love, and good works. The same thing is variously expressed in Scripture, viz. to look narrowly upon a thing, to call to mind, to know and consi∣der in ones heart, to call things to remem∣brance, to commune with a mans heart, Psal. 77. 5, 6.
Their latter end: By which we are not only to understand those tremendous, and desolating judgements that should surprize them in this world, but to remember the great things of the other; as also old age, death, the grave, erernity, death with its antecedents, concomitants and consequen∣ces.
The words contain a pathetical Option or wish, O that they were wise! In which observe.
1. The person wishing, viz. the most great and gracious God.
Page 92 2. The thing desired, and that is Divine Wisdom: a Jawel indeed, a price far above Rubies.
3. The person for whom God thus desireth, viz. for Israel, a people nigh unto the Lord, and yet a bruitish inconsiderate, and unwise people. O that they were wise, &c.
4. What this wisdom is, or wherein it doth consist, viz. in the consideration of their latter end.
The Doctrines observable from the words are these.
Doct. 1. That God doth earnestly desire, and long for the good of a people.
Doct. 2. That an inconsiderate people are a foolish and unwise people.
Doct. 3. That want of serious considera∣tion is incident not only to the prophane, but to men professing God and Godliness: The Israelites were the onely Church of God then in the World, and yet they were not wise to understand and consider their lat∣ter end.
I shall not handle these apart, but speak to the chief scope and intent of the words in this one proposition.
Doct. That it is a duty and matter of high concernment to consider our latter end. O Page 93 that they were wise! that they would con∣sider, viz. practically consider, and live always in the belief of the other world, so as to do up all their work while it is day. This seems to be the great import of the spirit of God in this Text.
Eternal souls, whatever escapeth your thoughts, this must not; this should be your vade mecum; It should rise up with you, lye down with you, walk with you where-ever you go are. This Moses him∣self, that precious and renowned servant of God desir'd, seeing such a dreadful morta∣lity in the Wilderness, and so many sad spectacles of Divnie wrath, Psal. 90. 10. So teach us to number our days, that we may ap∣ply our hearts to wisdom. And as Moses desir'd it, so also holy David, Psal. 39. 4. Lord, make me to know my end, and the mea∣sure of my days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am. And Solomon sets a better upon it, Eccles, 7. 2. It is better to go to the House of mourning, then to the House of Feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. And it is an Argument that men are dead, when at a House of mourning they are not mo∣ved with compassion, to a due and deep consideration of their doleful and dying condition.
Page 94 I shall come now to show you what we are to consider, concerning our latter end; and O that it may take a deep im∣pression upon all that shall read these plain truths.
Seriously consider and believe,
1. That it is most certain that an end will be. For whatsoever the Scriptures speak of Death, the Grave, and Hell, is an infal∣lible Truth. You are to consider, that every man is mortal, must dye, and pass into the other World; and that in every one of your bodies there is an immortal, and never-dying soul; and that after these bodies have slept in the dust of the Earth, they shall live again; there shall be a re∣surrection of the just and unjust; and at the end of the World a Tribunal shall be set up, before which all the World shall be made to stand. And that as soon as your breath is gone, the spirit shall return to God that gave it, either to the Justice of God, or to the Mercy of God, to the place of joy, or to the place of torment.
Our transgression, natural constituti∣on, with a statute Law of Heaven have Page 95 brought us under a necessity of dying. Where ever this Viper fastneth, it killeth certainly, though not suddenly; sin and death are twins, sin is the great murder∣er that let death into the world; For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt dye, Gen. 2. 17. That is, thou shalt become mortal. As soon as Adam had sinn'd, he (and we in him our repre∣sentative) became subject or liable to death: Sin, like a mighty Monarch reign'd from Adam to Moses: a Malefactor cast at the Bar, is dead in Law, though he be repriev'd for a time; the Body (sayes the Apostle) is dead because of sin: some dye in the womb, some in their infancy, some in their youth, & they that live longest, dy at last: Death never hurts a man, but with his own Weapon; it always finds Sin in us, and the sting of death is sin. And where ever you meet it, or see it, you may say of it, as Abab to the Prophet, hast thou found me, O mine enemy? Death, and eve∣ry death, is the fruit of sin, death tempo∣ral, death Spiritual, and death Eternal: The soul that sins shall dye, Ezek. 18. 20. The wages of sin is death, Rom. 6. 23. Our natural constitution rendreth us obno∣xious Page 96 to dissolution; our flesh is not the flesh of stone, or of brass, but frail and mouldring dust, to which, as to our Cen∣tre, we must return, Gen. 3. 19. Dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return, Eccles. 3. 20. All go to one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again, Heb. 9. 27. It is appointed for man once to dye. Job 14. 5. His days are determined, the number of his moneths are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. No shield, or Buckler can fortifie against this King of terrors; impartial death (the great Level∣ler) knows no faces, and therefore none can be exempted. If faithfulness might challenge impunity from death, then Moses might have been excus'd; if beauty, then Absalem: if strength, then Sampson: if sinceriry and piety, then David: if sultil∣ry, then Achitophel: if magnanimity, then Alexander: if riches, then Croesus: if wisdom, then Solomon: but one event hap∣pens to them all, so that when the fatal moment cometh, no ransom can be given, no art nor skill can keep us here. Sirs, were this Doctrine of the other would be∣lieved, it would have a greater impression upon our hearts: did we seriously consi∣der of that future state of retribution, ac∣cording Page 97 to our faith of which we must live or die, stand or fall to eternity, it would have a greater influence upon our lives.
2. Consider, That at your latter end, all things in this World will fail you, and take their leaue of you for ever. All your natu∣ral indowments, outward enjoyments, Parts, Parentage, Birth, Breeding, Wit, Wealth, Crowns, Kingdoms, Pearles, Diamonds, Houses, Lands, Wives, Chil∣dren, Friends, when your breath is gone, all these are gone, Prov. 27. 24. Riches are not for ever, neither doth a crown endure to all generations. The glittering Sun of all outward glory will certainly set, which your own experience, and Scripture evi∣dence doth clearly evince. Riches have wings, and they fly away, Prov. 23. 5. The fashion of this world passeth away, 1 Cor. 7. 29, 30, 31. We brought nothing into this world; and 'tis certain we shall carry nothing out, 1 Tim. 6. 7. If a man were possessed with as much of this World, as Solomon the great King of Jerusalem, who had great Magnificent Buildings, fruitful, Page 98 pleasant Vineyards, Gardens, Orchards, and Trees of all manner of fruits, variety of servants, possessions of great and small Cattel, heaps of Gold and Silver, peculiar Treasure of Kings, Musical Instruments, Men and Women singers, and whatsoever his eyes desir'd; yet when he takes a se∣rious view of all things, he would say with him, all is vanity, and that a man hath no profit of all his labour which he taketh under the Sun, which made the wise man even to have life, Eccles. 2.
Since the fall, there is a curse upon the Creature, which indeed is deceiving, vex∣ing, decaying, and all our outward com∣forts may be compared to Pharaoh's Hosts, and alive this hour, and the next drown'd and dead upon the Sea-shore, and though you judge they shall endure for ever, Psal. 49. 11. Luke 12. 19. They will deal by you as Absalom's Mule that left him in his greatest extremity. What woful miseries attend Wordly riches, in the getting keeping and parting with them? they are snares and thorns, plagues and Scorpions unto many; they pierce them thorow with many sorrows, 1 Tim. 6. 10.
Yet here men toyl, beat their brains, Page 99 weary their bodies, tire their spirits, break their sleep, perplex their thoughts, rack their consciences, ingulf and drown them∣selves in cares, endanger their souls (drea∣ming of nothing but perpetuity:) and when they have done all; like the Silk∣worm, dye in their work: Nay, many a man survives his own happiness, which pe∣risheth before he perisheth; and its the worst of miseries to outlive our own hap∣piness: therefore let not riches highten your hearts, and prompt you to pride, which is too common.
This day the rich worlding sang a re∣quiem to his sadly deluded soul, concluding he had much laid up, the night following his soul is required. Haman is to day the second man in the Kingdom; but soon lost all, and his life too. Now doth Nebu∣chadnezzar walk in his stately royal Palace of Babel,, priding himself in his outward pomp; but while the word was in his mouth, a voice came from Heaven, say∣ing; O King Nebuchadnezzar, to thee be it spoken, thy Kingdom is departed from thee, Dan. 4. 29, 30, 31.
Jerusalem this year is the Princes a∣mong the Provinces, the next year made tributary; and they that live delicately Page 100 are desolate, and embrace Dung-hills, Lam. 1. 1. and 4. 5. Yesterday Job's Cattle might be numbred by thousands, and tomorrow he is stript of all, and left naked. Neither is our age without a sad and dreadful instance (viz.) famous Lon∣don, on the Lord's day standing, by Wed∣nesday burnt and laid in ashes, and thou∣sands of the Inhabitants housless and har∣bourless; therefore if riches encrease, set not your hearts upon them; they are uncer∣tain, cannot satisfie, cannot profit, will pe∣rish, and that for ever: O then, let those precious, dear, everlasting jewels, laid up in your mouldring, decaying, dying bodies, be cared for! What can it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mat. 16. 26.
3. Consider, How soon all the present pleasures of sin will be gone, and leave nothing but a sting. Old age, weakness, sickness, will make a great change in the whole outward man as to beauty, strength, na∣tural vigor, liveness of senses, and all whereby a man might take any pleasure Page 101 in the world, or in his lust. When sickness old age, deaths fore-runner cometh, it will make a strange change in the most comely countenance; corporal comeliness and beauty is soon stain'd, sickness will not only fade it, but deface it: You that are endowed with comely proportion, spark∣ling eyes, well-favouredness, amiableness of colours, of white and red; with strait∣ness agility of body, with a cheerful aspect: when old age cometh; it will plow deep forrows in those fair faces; and yet many (ignorant of their foul souls, and filthy hearts) are proud of their fair faces, and comely features; so that they grow want∣on by reason of it, and to set out their beauty and whiteness of their skins (not being contented with Creators curious make) will add painting, patches, powder∣ing, crisping, curlings, artificial hair, and what not? Know that old age will not onely whither your be•… (which is but skin deep) but a•… outward strength, natural vigor; liveliness of senses, and all whereby you may have any world∣ly pleasure.
Old age is Solomon's evil day, when the Sun, Moon and Stars will be dark∣ned, the keepers of the House tremble, Page 102 and the strong men bow themselves, and the grinders cease, and all the daughters of Musick shall be brought low, and fear shall be in the way; when the whole outward man is decayed, (viz.) eyes dim or dark, Ears deaf, Teeth rotten, Gums bare, Head bald, Breath corrupt, Hands and Feet weak and trembling; an evil day indeed, in which you shall find no delight in your former dalliances, for the Grashopper will be a burden, and desire shall fail, Eccles. 12. But the beauty of Grace withers not under the greatest declinings of natural beauty; for grace is the Oyl in the Lamp that never goeth out, but shineth more and more. The Kings Daughter is all glorious within, Psal. 45. Godliness, which is Gods likeness, casts a lustre that is very lovely in the sight of God and Man. Thou art all fair, my Dove and there is no spot in thee.
Sinners! you that now taste the sweet of Sin, rejoyce to do wickedly, that spend your time in riotous Drunkenness, Chambers of wantonness, lye upon Beds of Ivory, and stretch your selves on your Couches, and eat the Lambs out of the flock, that chant to the sound of the viol, that drink Wine in Bowls, that are uot Page 103 grieved for the afflictions of Joseph, that put far away the evil day; Know, that the fire of sin will burn, and that your sweet morsels are but for a moment; those sweet morsels and delicate dainties will cost your dear.
Hear now this, you that are given to pleasure, that feast your selves in doing evil; 'tis but a little time, and you will see and say, that all your delights, hopes, joys, are past and gone, and that you shall ne∣ver see or taste them more, only the gra∣vel, gall, guilt and sting will remain. You that love this Hellish banquet of sin (the stoln Waters that are sweet, and bread eaten in secret that is pleasant) don't know that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of Hell. Prov. 9. 17, 18. Sin is a sweet poyson, pleasant in the act∣ing, but bitter in the end: For the soul that sinneth shall dye. Ezek. 13. 20. And will you spare it, and keep it still within your mouth? hide it under your tongue, untill it becometh the gall of Asps within you, Job 20. 12, 13. Consider also, that your secret wickedness committed in the dark, in corners, that is mask'd and close kept, is known to God.
Page 104 The infinite Holy, and heart seaching God marks them, Job 10. 14. Hos. 7. 2. Watcheth them, Job 14. 16. Sealeth them, they are down among his Tresures, Deut. 32. 34. and they will find you out, Num. 32. 23. (If not truly and deeply repented of and pardoned) they will lye down with you in the Grave, and follow you into the other World, and meet you at Gods dreadful Bar, and be discovered in the sight of the whole world; evil shall pursue the Sinner: This evil thing, and bitter (bred in the womb, not buried in the grave, nor extinguished by the fire of Hell) shall pursue the sinner unto Hell. Sinners, this is most certain, unrepented sins will never leave you, but lye down and rise with you, your bones are full of the sins of your youth, which shall lye down with you in the dust, Job 20. 11. Sin is a bad bed fellow, and a worse grave∣fellow, and if it sleep with you, it will awake with you, when the dreadful Trum∣pet shall sound, Arise ye dead and come to jndgement: The damned in Hell have all their sins about them; that which was the cause of their being cast into Hell, will be their everlasting campanion there; and will you take these Vipers and Scorpions Page 105 into your bosom, that will be always gnawing upon your hearts? Know this, your posting Sun of all sinful sensual de∣lights, will set in the dreadful Ocean of endless, easeless, and remediless sorrow.
4. Consider, That only which is eternal, will stand you in stead when you come to dye, (viz.) when you shall shoot the vast Gulf, and lanch out into the infinite Oce∣an of Eternity, that hath neither bounds, banks, nor bottom.
Immortal souls! Do you see any thing that hath Eternity engraven upon it? There are variety of objects, both of per∣sons and things, that present themselves to your view: Lift up your eyes to the vast Heavens that are bespangled and beautified with a glorious Sun, Moon, and glittering Stars, that have been there for some thousands of years, see whether eternity be there? No, they had their beginning, and must have their Period, Gen. 1. 1. Heb. 1. 10, 11. Thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the Foundations of the Earth, and the Heaven are the works of Page 106 thine hands: They shall perish, they shall wax old as doth a garment, but thou remain∣est: The day is coming wherein the Sun shall be turned into darkness, and the Moon into blood; The Stars of Heaven shall fall, and the Powers of the Heavens shall be sha∣ken; the Elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the Earth with the works that are therein shall be burnt up, Matth. 24. 29. 2 Pet. 3. 10.
Moreover, look to your near and dear Relations, for whom you expose your selves to so much pain, care, and trou∣ble; Look to Abraham your Father, and to Sarah that bare you (as the Prophet speaketh in another case) to your Hus∣bands, Wives, Children, Parents, Friends, Neighbours, Magistrates, Ministers; are these for ever? No: Many of them are gone down to the dark Valley already, and shall return no more: or look to those brave Heroes, Alexander, Caeser, Pompey, and where are they? are they not all conquered by the King of terrors, and held in the Prison of the Grave, for many hundred years: Look to your Sil∣ver, Gold, Pearl, Perfumes, costly Cabi∣nets, stately Structures, Princes Pallaces; Page 107 are these for ever? No: They are cor∣ruptible things, and cannot deliver in the day of the Lords wrath: Kings Palaces are desolate places, ready to become a heap: Crowns are translated from head to head; Scepters pass from one hand to another; and Kingdoms have their rise, and they have their ruine: And will you sell your precious souls for pelf, and transitory trash, which indeed is more in expectation then in fruition; con∣sider how little that is worth, for which you run the dreadful hazard of losing Hea∣ven.
But now (if you are Believers) lift up your eyes to the everlasting Hills, and put the Eagles eye of Faith within the Vail, there's the Ancient of Days, God your Fa∣ther the chiefest good, and highest happi∣ness; there is Christ your dear Redeemer, the Prince of Glory; and a House not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens; and upon the favour of God, the love and Righteousness of Christ, you may see Eter∣nity.
Again, turn your eyes inward to the hidden man of the heart; is there the seed of God, or impress of his Image, and the Divine Nature? 1 John 3. 9. 2 Pet. 1. 4. Page 108 Is there an active, living, springing prin∣ciple of Grace? John 4. 14. On this thou maist read Eternity; Grace is the Heir of glory, every drop of which runs into the Ocean, and nothing else can befriend you; For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal, 2 Cor. 4. 18.
5. Consider, which of the two Eternities you are going towards? I would have you deeply and seriously consider, That there is one place for the Sheep, and another for the Goats; one place for the Righteous, and another for the Ungodly; one place for Believer, and another for Unbelievers; one place for the Dead, and another for the Living: An eternal Night, or eternal Day; eternal Pains, or eternal Pleasures; eternal Bliss, or eternal Burning; an eter∣nal Life, or eternal Death; an eternal Heaven, or an eternal Hell.
Now Sinners, stop here and consider, unto which of the two do you belong? Have you any certainty of a blessed and glorious Eternity? that Heaven, not Hell, Page 109 will be your place and portion; for resol∣ving of which, consider and answer to these Queries.
Have you unfeignedly believed, repent∣ed and turned to God with the renting of your hearts, and resigned your whole souls to him? do you find your hearts affectio∣nately and venemently carried out to Jesus Christ so, as not to be satisfied without Union and Communion with him? Is Jesus Christ the Beloved and Darling of your Souls?
Have you (being sensible of what you have done against him, and of your un∣worthiness of him) by a deep, and heart humiliation, laid a Foundation for Hea∣ven and Happiness? You must Sow before you can Reap, and they that Sow in tears, shall Reap in joy, Psal. 126. 5.
Are you Heaven-born, or born after the flesh only? If by a sound work of conver∣sion, you are become new creatures indeed, 2 Cor. 5. 17. It is well, stand and wonder at amazing mercy; if not, fear and trem∣ble; for if you fail here, you are utterly undone for ever.
Further, are you risen with Christ, or dead in trespasses and Sins? Eph. 2. 1. Are you partakers of the first resurrecti∣on, Page 110 or are you in your graves, rotting, stinking in your sins, being past feeling? are you truely at odds with Sin and every sin? or do you take pleasure in unrighte∣ousness? are you for Godliness in the life and power of it? and is there no reigning allowed sin in your hearts and ways? doth sin, and every sin look ugly, feel heavy, taste bitter? and no Idol of the heart to keep Christ out of his Throne? no secret sin lived in against Conscience? Do you pray and desire to live in the fear, and as under the eye of God, making conscience of secret sins, and of secret duties, with a sincere respect to Gods glory, and your own good? doth the heart-searching God find you in your Closets, on your knees morning and evening pouring out your souls before him? every one that is Godly will pray, Psal. 32. 6.
Are you crucified to the World, or do your souls cleave unto the dust? have you a Treasure in Heaven, or treasure in the Field onely? Have you bought the Pearl? or are you content with Pebbles? Who are your Associates? The, Devils Herd, or Christs Flock? are you com∣panions for Swine and filty Dogs, the World of Ungodly; or of the Doves and Page 111 Lambs of Christ? whose mark have you? the mark of Sheep? (viz. Holiness, hu∣mility, innocency or the mark of Goats (viz. Lust, Pride, and uncleanness?) who keeps the Throne? the King of Saints, or the God of this World? do your hearts and lives speak, Heaven, Heaven, Heaven, or Hell, Hell, Hell; Hell is not more the place of the devil, then the heart of a wick∣ed man. Can you look upwards and say, Our Father •hich art in Heaven, or must you look down-werd and say, Our Father which art in Hell. How can you take com∣fort in any thing of this World, that are like to be unspeakably and eternally mise∣rable in the other World. Suppose you had as much of the Riches, Pomp, and glory of the World as any man that ever liv'd upon the face of the Earth? If you could say, this Crown, this Kingdom, this Countrey is mine, this Gold, this Silver, or this Shop, these Goods, this Manner, this Farm, these Fields, these Flocks, this Corn, these Cattle, and these Mines, these Pearls, these Jewels are mine, what would all avail you; if your souls are the Devils? Now how stands the case of your precious souls? are they secured, have you made a real preparation for Page 112 death and judgement, or left all undone? Are you vessels of honour prepared unto Glory, or Vessels of wrath fitted for de∣struction? Rom. 9. 22, 23. Let consci∣ence speak, commune with your hearts, Psal. 4. 4. Consider your ways, Hag. 1. 5. Search and try your selves, Lam. 3. prove your own work, examine your selves whether you are in the Faith, 2 Cor. 13. 5. Whatsoever you sow, you shall certain∣ly reap, Gal. 6. 7, 8. And in the place where the Tree falleth there it shall lye, Eccl. 11. 13. If it falleth to the North, it lyeth to the North; if it falleth towards the South, it lyeth towards the South. If you live and dye towards Heaven, Heaven will be your place and home: but if you live and dye towards Hell, Hell will be your place and home. For according to your doing in this World, will be your doom in the World that is to come, 2 Cor. 5. 10. And is it not sad and dread∣ful, to believe that you have precious never dying souls, and do not know whether they shall be sav'd or damn'd, stand or fall, live or die to all Eternity? And yet this is the case of thousands, and millions of men and women now in the World, that are making post hast to Hell, and think Page 113 and hope they are in the way toward Heaven, Prov. 16. 25.
6. Consider, How near you are to your everlasting habitation: You are all going down amain the stream of time, into the great Ocean, and you will shortly come thither. There's not a step you step, nor a breath you draw, not a word you speak, not a moment of time you live, but hath an influence upon Eternity. These golden sands running between two Eternities will quickly be gone, a short race will be soon run. O what a nothing is our life! viz. a span, a dream, a wind, a shadow, a vapour, a post, swifter then a post, Job 7. 6. You are all going to your long and last home, to the house of Eternity, eve∣ry man goeth to his long home, Ecel. 12. 5. How doth he go? he goeth swiftly, always in motion, night and day, sleep∣ing and walking, labouring or loytering, this post hastens, time and tide stays not. Again, he goeth insensibly, man doth not discern, or perceive how his precious time doth fly from him; the shadow on the Page 114 Dial passeth from one hour or figure to an∣other, from the Sun rising to its setting, though its speedy transient motion is not observed: So man passeth from infancy to Child-hood, from child-hood to youth, from youth to middle age, and so to old age, and the Grave; and we take little or no notice of it. Again, he goeth irresista∣bly, neither men nor Angels, Physick or Physitian can keep him here; it is as easie to obstruct the whole course of Nature, or to hinder Gods Covenant of day and night: a man may as well restrain the Sun from rising, the Sea from flowing, or the wind from blowing, as keep man from dying and going to the place appointed for all living. We are but of yesterday, Job 8. 9. It was but as it were yesterday, and we were in the womb of nothing, had no being, and it will be but as it were to morrow, and we shall disappear, and be (as to this world) as if we had never been. We are crushed before the moth, Job 4. 19. And in a moment we go down to the Grave, and shall come up no more. Yea, our Pictures and Statues remain fresh and firm, when we are gone down to the Bars of the pit, and rest together in the dust, and our very Dogs, Horses live, when we Page 115 are dead, and become meat for worms,
This heart-affecting meditation, had a very great influence on a great Persian King, who taking a view of his huge vast Army, wept to think that within a hun∣dred years not one man of them would be left alive. Sinners, you are to look beyond the grave, because after death, the judgment, Heb. 9. 27. O then trem∣ble to consider that you are all this day standing before the door of Eternity, ei∣ther on the brink of life, or the brink of death, upon the borders of heaven, or the mouth of hell, and shall ere long be made to see what is on the other side of the wall; as soon as death hath shut your eyes, you shall see and know what you shall be for ever, If you are now uncon∣verted and without God in the World, you are almost come within the sight of the burning Lake of Fire and Brimstone; but if Saints, you are almost within the view of the New Jerusalem; if Ungodly Sinners, you are almost within the dread∣ful noise of the Mile-stones of wrath, and the ratlings of the fiery chains of the Pri∣soners of Hell, the dolorous out-cries, and hideous roarings of the spirits in prison, crying out one and all, O what an evil Page 116 and an infinite evil, and bitter bitter thing is sin, which we would not consider or believe, till we came to this dismal place of torment: There you may hear the cursed tormented unbeliever crying out upon his God-pro∣voking, Christ-rejecting, and soul-mur∣dering sin of infidelity, saying in the an∣guish of his soul, If I had accepted of the remedy, I had not been in this doleful misery the Lord of Glory was at the door, I heard him knock a long time, but would not let him in, therefore is Hells mouth shut upon me for ever. There the Swearers, Liars, Blasphe∣mers, that did tear and rend the sacred name of their Creator, and swear by the blood and wounds of their offered Re∣deemer, are heard with their hot and scorched tongues to bewail that ever they should take the name of the infinite Holy God in vain.
There the hypocritical and false-hearted professors, the sinners in Sion cry out, and wish that either they had made no shew of love to Christ and Holiness at all, or that they had lov'd him in sincerity, and above all, that so they might have escaped ever∣lasting burnings.
There the impudent, ranting, swinish Drunkard, that pleas'd his eye and pallate Page 117 with his pleasant cups, sparkling Wine, and cursed Companions, is heard to wish in the Agony of his soul, O that I had been so∣ber temperate, abstemious, that so I might not have tasted of the Wine of the wrath of God, which is red, and full of mixture, the dregs whereof I must be made to drink forever, Psal. 75. 8. Isa. 5. 22.
There the filthy unclean Adulterers, and Adulteresses, that burn'd in their Hellish lusts, which they were resolved to satisfie, are heard to wish, O that we had been sober, modest, chaste, and that our wanton lustful eyes had been stark blind and never known or seen the face of man or woman, that we might not have suffered the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 7.
There the notoriously vile, abominable Atheists, that mockt and scoft at the be∣lief of a Deity and judgement to come, and that said in the pride and stoutness of their hearts, let him make speed and hasten his work, that we may see it, for we have made a Covenant with death, and with Hell are we at agreement, may be heard to roar and cry, O that we had heard, believed, and feared what was fore-told by Ministers con∣cerning this dark and dreadful place before it was too late.
Page 118 There the worlding and wretched Earth∣worm, that made Earth his Heaven, gold his God and chiefest good, is heard to say in the grief of his heart, O that I had ne∣ver seen either Gold of Silver all my days, so that I might have had a better portion; or that I had with Lazarus beg'd my bread, so that I might not have come into this place of torment.
There the timerous fearful cowardly Apostate and back-slider in heart, who for fear of a little outward hardship, declin'd his professed principles, and turn'd his bach on Christ, and his persecuted little Flock, may be heard to wish, that either he had never known the way of righteous∣nees, or that he had been faithful unto the death.
Secure, and sadly deluded souls, con∣sider you are not far from this direful gulf, where multitudes of souls lament and weep day and night; and certainly, if the hor∣rible and amazing cries and yellings of those infernal spirits were sounding in your ears, you would not rest quiet in your Beds or Houses.
There were sad and astonishing out-cries when the world was drown'd. when Sodom was burn'd, to see the Clouds sud∣denly Page 119 drop fire on their heads and hou∣ses, and men, women, and children, burn∣ing together: but this was but a flea-bite, to that place, where is weeping, and gnashing of teeth to all Eternity. Re∣member all you that forget God, the day of your calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon you make haste, Deut. 32. 35.
But if you are the servants of the Lord, and real Saints, Mourners in Sion, lift up your heads and hearts, for you belong to another place and better Country, viz. to mount Sion, and unto the City of the liv∣ing God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an inumerable company of Angels; to the general Assembly, and Church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprink∣ling, that speaketh better things then that of Abel, Heb. 12. 22, 23, 24. And know, that you are almost come within the hearing of those heavenly. Songs, eternal triumphs and Hallelujahs of Saints and glorious Angels in your Fathers house, Where you will have fulness of joy, and plea∣sure for evermore, Ps. 16. 11.
Page 120 7. Consider, How sudden, violent, or un∣expected your end may be. Therefore let none think or say, they shall dye in their nest, or promise your selves a time of preparation by a long life, or a lingring sickness, Consumption, or such like: Fearless, careless sinners! you don't know what a night, or what an hour may bring forth; the rich man in the Go∣spel while he dream'd of many dayes, was arrested by a killing and dreadful message, Thou fool this night thy soul shall be required of thee, Luke. 12. 20. He lives not, that knoweth, where, when, or how he shall dye; some have gone to bed well, and dyed the same night; others have dropt dead from their Horses; some have died at their Tables, whilst the meat hath been in their mouthes; others have died in their full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet; with breasts full of milk, and bones moistned with marrow: others die in the bitterness of their soul, and ne∣ver eat with pleasure. They shall lye down a like in the dust, and the worms shall cover them, when they are brought Page 121 to the grave, and to remain in the tomb. Sirs! There are many dreadful instances in the word of God of the sad and sud∣den approach of this merciless messenger death, which stand as so many Sea-marks to give you warning, least death should come in an hour you look not for it, and find you unprepared. The King of the Chaldeans in his greatest jollity, and hav∣ing not a thought of death, saw a hand-writing on the wall, which was very ter∣rible, and the same night was slain. While he was feasting and drinking wine, and prai∣sing the Gods of Gold and Silver: in the same hour came forth fingers of a mans hand, and wrote over against the Candlestick upon the Plaister of the wall of the Kings Pallace, and the King saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the Kings countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joynts of his loynes were loosed, and his knees smote one against another, Dan. 5. 3, 4, 5, 6. and 30. Death is the King of terrours, and terrour of Kings. Good Hezekiah receiv∣ed a sudden summons for death, Isa. 38. 1. which made him turn his face to the wall, pray, and weep sore, and to chat∣ter like a Crane, and mourn like a Dove, in the bitterness of his soul, because he Page 122 was to go to the gates of the grave, and to the pit where there is no hope. The first born in Egypt were slain at midnight, which made a great cry, Exod. 29. 30. Korah and his wicked company were swallowed up in the midst of their Re∣bellion, Numb. 16. 30, 31. They went down quickly into the pit, and all Israel fled at the cry of them.
There dyed suddenly of the men of Bethshemesh fifty thousand, and threescore and ten, because they looked into the Ark, 1 Sam. 6. 19. And God many times taketh away the desire of our eyes with a stroak, as he did Ezekiels Wife, Ezek. 24. 16. Job's children died at their banquet, Ishbosheth was smitten and died in his sleep, Ananias and Saphira being Husband and Wife, died within three or four hours one of the other with a lie in their mouths, Act. 5. 5, 10. The righte∣ous Judge many times shoots an arrow suddenly at wicked men, who dye in the act of sin, Ps. 64. 7. When they are about to fill their bellies, the Lord doth cast the fury of his wrath upon them, as he did upon the chosen men of Israel, Ps. 78. 30, 31. Many times, God, to execute his fierce wrath, sends out his destroying Page 123 Angels, who will make dreadful work in a little time, for in one night in the Camp of the Assirians, the angel of the Lord smote a hundred and fourscore and five thousand, that in the morning were all dead Corpses, Isa. 37. 36. How short and uncertain is our life, subject every moment to the stroak of death, & which the least crumb or flye may put an end unto, as it hath to many. And as our end may be sudden, so also it may be vio∣lent; a mortal disease may invade both Heart and head, and poor dying creatures many times are so distressed and distracted, that they cannot think of any thing but their tormenting pain, be∣ing uncapable to say any thing to God or men about their souls! O how stu∣pid and unsensible do many souls make their passage into the other world! like Nabal, or like a man in a lethargy; or as so many stocks or stones, and not a∣wake till they awake in the flames of hell. The rich man dyed, and in hell he lift up his eyes; his first and second death was very unexpected. All you obdurate sinners! stand here and wonder at the matchless mercy, and infinite pa∣tience of the great God, in delaying the Page 124 King of terrors so long; God hath not dealt so kindly with thousands of sin∣ners that are gon before unto judgement, and who went down to the pit in a mo∣ment, witness the late dreadful Plague, by the means of which a hundred thou∣sand souls were sent into Eternity. O let not London, nor England forget that, and other tremendous judgments, which our sins have called for, lest a worse then a∣ny yet should come upon us. The for∣getting of our latter end is a deadly and provoking sin, and that which will hast∣en judgement. Her filthiness it in her skirts, she remembred not her last and: therefore she came down wonderfully, she had no comforter. Lam. 1. 9.
8. Consider, That where death cometh to strike the stroake, your souls are stated, your Eternity is cast without change for ever: Then your immortal souls are for salva∣tion or damnation, for an eternal life, or eternal death, for an eternal heaven, or an eternal hell. You sadly besotted souls! know and remember, while you have a day, before the golden threed of life be Page 125 cut, that if you be found without Christ, Faith, Repentance, Holiness, but a mo∣ment after death, you are undone to E∣ternity. After death all means and hopes fail, there is no work or device in the grave, Eccles. 9. God will be then irrecon∣cilable, sin unpardonable, heaven not at∣tainable, and your souls lost irrecovera∣bly. And then the Devil your bloody ad∣versary will have his designe upon you; he knoweth, that if you be his in life and death, that you are his forever, and that he and you shall never part. Sinners! this is certain, as the tree falleth, so it ly∣eth; as is the seed, so will be the harvest: if you do the Devils work, you must have the devils wages, if you march under the command and conduct of the Prince of Darkness, and suffer him to lead and hurry you hither and thither at his will, whil'st you live, you will be his prisoners and slaves in that dreadful dungeon of dismal darkness after you are dead.
Consider, the Land of darkness is no place for service, there's no repenting in the grave, no Lord have mercy on us written upon Hell Gates, no Sabbaths, no Sermons, no Ministers there. 'Tis in the time of life that you are to labour, Page 126 and make preparation for life eternal, because according to your work and choice in this world, will be your ever∣lasting lot in the world that is to come. It is appointed for you once to dye, and after death the judgement, Heb. 9. 7. The pale horse death goeth before, and hell followeth after, Rev. 6. 8. there will be no change of your condition; the eternal ruine, or eternal welfare of your precious souls depends on those few mi∣nutes; this swift stream of mans life, af∣ter it once turneth or declineth, ever run∣neth with a perpetual ebb, never floweth again: so that all that you leave undone now, will be undone for ever. If you die unbeleivers, you will be unbeleivers for ever; if you dye under the guilt and pow∣er of sin and wrath of God, you will re∣main under the guilt of sin and wrath of God for ever: but if you dye holy, hum∣ble, mortified, sincere souls, you will remain holy, heavenly, and in the favour of God for ever: Rev. 21. He that is filthy, will be filthy still, and he that is holy will be holy still: but the inpenitent unpardoned sinner, though he live a hundred, or a thousand years in satisfying his lust, will be accurst at last. Poor sinners! that Page 127 read this little. Treatise, let me beg you to up and be doing while it is day, the night will come, wherein you, not no man can work; John 9. 4. Then to your work with might and main while your can∣dle is burning, your Sun shining: will you yet loiter, and see your glass running, your Sun setting, your selves dying, and your souls perishing? O seek the Lord while he may be found, Isa. 55. 5. in an acceptable time, 2 Cor. 6. 2. before the day pass as the chaff, before the decree bring forth, before the evil day cometh, before they that look out of the windows be dark, and the keepers of the house be∣gin to tremble, before the doors be shut in the streets, and the silver cord be loo∣sed, or the Pitcher broken at the foun∣tain, before you are gone to your long home, and the spirit return'd to God that gave it.
Consider with your selves, are your fit to grapple with this mighty Mo∣narch death, are you fraughted for this long Voyage, and ready and willing to pass through this dark Entry; take heed and feare, lest you be found unfit. Think on the sadly deluded Virgins, that had their Oyl to buy when their Lamps Page 128 should burn, and so came to the door, but found it shut; think upon poor Esan that was hunting for Vienson, while he lost the blessing.
Poor perishing souls! what do you intend to do? if you will work, it must be now or never. Are you resolved to seek and secure the Kingdome of God first, Mat. 6. 23. whilst it is called to day, or will you bestow nothing but dregs and snuffs of rotten old age upon God and your immortal souls? O that you might know in this your day the things which belong to your Peace, before they be hid from your eyes?
9. Lastly consider, That it is the most dreadful and amazing sight on this side hell, to see a Christless unbeleiver breathing out his last: There are other sad sights, viz. to see a man starving for want of bread, or dying for want of a physitian, or drowning for want of a boat, or to see a man dead, a dead corps, a body with∣out a soul; but ah! how sad and asto∣nishing a spectacle is it, to see a man near the coasts of Eternity, viz. to behold a Page 129 wretched sinner in his cold sweats and dying groanes, with his precious immor∣tal soul standing on his pale, cold, qui∣vering lips, and death the great Conque∣ror, and the King of terrors, marching fu∣riously with his Writ of remove in one hand (not to be reverst) and his deadly dart and sting in the other hand, con∣science on the rack, barking, biting, and tearing him like a Lyon, the Devil, Gods Executioner looking on and standing by, the heart under dejecting and sinking despair, the eyes dim and fixed, his heart∣strings ready to break with anguish, his Wife, Children, Friends at the bed-side weeping, sighing, crying, wringing their hands, beating their breasts, the Wife crying out, alas my Husband! the Child crying out, alas my Father! The poor pe∣rishing soul all this while looking back∣ward upon his mispent time, and by∣past sins, inward upon his own heart, a dreadful sight! where he seeth no Christ, no grace, no purity, nothing but sin, guilt, death, darkness: Then looking upward to that God that hath been pro∣voked, to that Christ that hath been re∣jected, to that Heaven and Eternity that he hath lost, and looking down-ward to Page 130 that dark and dreadful pit that must be his place and portion (with a fearful looking for of judgement) seeing the Devils come and ready to seiz upon him. O what a dreadful out-cry, and shriek will the soul make when it departs, perceiving it self sinking down, down to the burning lake, and bottomless pit, where he must take up his lodging with devouring fire to all Eternity!
The pangs of death, the worlds loss, anguish of Conscience, & frights of hell, meeting together, will make a man per∣fectly miserable, and force him to cry out with cursed Cain, Gen. 4. 13. My punish∣ment is greater then I can bear; or to say with the sadly afflicted Church, behold, no sorrow like unto my sorrow. And if the dreadful reflection of a guilty accusing conscience be so tormenting here, what will the whole flame and Sea of wrath be, when poured out to the very ut∣most?
Sensless sinners! Consider, this may be your doleful case when you come to die, viz. to have much sorrow and wrath with your sickness, Eccl. 5. 17. For there is no is peace to the wicked, saith my God: not one word in all the Bible but speaks ter∣rour Page 131 in life and death; though the sinner live a hundred years he shall be accurst, he dieth under the curses written in God's Book; yea, under that most dread∣ful Gospel curse, 1 Cor. 16. 22. The ap∣prehension of which will cause such di∣straction of spirit, and sad reflection of guilt, which will make them curse their God and their King; looking down to the pit, roaring out; Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? There∣fore be wise to consider this, all ye that forget God, lest he tear you in peeces, and there be none that can deliver, Psal. 50. 22.
And as it is dreadful and amazing to see the unbeleiver dying, so on the con∣trary, 'tis comfortable and reviving to see the godly man dying, because his ulti∣mum is his optimum, his last is his best; the day of his death is better then the day of his birth, Eccl. 7. 1. His end is peace, Psal. 37. 37.
God at peace, Conscience at peace, and all at peace, O blessed sight, to see the heaven born panting soul going out of the world upon the wings of joy, calm∣ness and serenity of spirit, with full sail for heaven; longing and crying out, Page 132 make no tarrying O my God, haste my beloved, haste, so come Lord Jesus, I desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is best of all, Phil. 1. 23.
You have heard what are the great things to be considered, namely, that an end will certainly be, this world is no place of continuance; they that now see you, ere long will see you no more for ever. You have heard that your present things will perish, that sin so full of dead∣ly poyson will leave a sting, a dart that will strike through your Liver, and that the case of the wicked will be doleful, dreadful, yea, desperate, when they come to dye, for when death comes, your souls then will be stated, so as there can be no alteration to all Eternity.
The next thing is to speak to the rea∣sons, why it is a duty and matter of such moment to consider, are these follow∣ing.
Reas. 1. Is taken from God, Because the only wise, gracious, most indulgent, and soul∣compassionating God, wisheth it, and that most vehemently. O that they were wise! Page 133 that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end: Sirs, in this pa∣thetical Option, or desire, there is the ve∣ry tender bowels of God, this is the very language of his heart, and it is, as if he had (after the manner of men) spo∣ken thus to his faithful servant Moses. I have but one wish, or request, and all is comprehended in this one, viz. that thou shouldst go and tell them from me, that they must be wise to consider this, to remember the dayes of old, and the years of many Generations, what I have done for them in chusing them above all the Nations of the world to be my treasure, portion, and peculiar people; and because I love them, I have delivered them, wrought wonders for them in Egypt, the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, and have kept them as tenderly as the apple of mine eye, carrying them upon Eagles wings; but yet let them know, that they have forgotten me, provoked me, and that their end is like to be miserable, for afire is kindled in mine anget, and unless, they do speedily consider, it will burn to the lowest hell.
Now you souls in peril, which is best? to thwart, cross, and greive your well∣wishing, Page 134 dearest, best and only friend, or to please and geatifie your prosessed, deadly, implacable enemy? your adver∣sary the Devil can't endure that you should think of death or dying; for if Sa∣tan that old Serpent would permit, and suffer you to look into hell, he could nei∣ther drag nor draw you thither at his pleasure. And will you go on in the wayes of sin and death? or bethink your selves whose you are, what you have done, whither you are going, and what is like to become of you when your breath is gone, what provision you have made for your other world, that so the great business between God and your souls may be made up.
Sinners! if the infinitely holy, just, and righteous God, did desire or designe your ruine and destruction, he would not have excited you to this solemn and seri∣ous consideration of the end of sin, death, and Eternity, until it were too late, and you left without remedy; so that what is here intended hath a tendency to make you happy, if it be regarded, O that they were wise, &c.
Page 135 Reas. 2. Because a deep, serious, and heart-affecting consideration of death and the grave, will both realize it, and represent it as near, even at the door, and make it to stand in open view: Whereas things look∣ed upon at a distance, whether they be good, or whether they be evil, have but a little, if any influence: Now a fixed and hearty consideration, will give as it were a being to future things, and bring them near, so that you may really con∣verse with those things.
A truly godly man, that hath a veiw of unseen things by divine contemplation here, upon the wings of faith and hope, he may ascend up into heaven, and walk a turn in the golden streets of the New Jereusalem, as the Prophet Ezekiel was in the Visions of God at Jerusalem in his mind, when his body was by the River Chebar among the Captives in the Land of the Chaldeans; so likewise those sadly wounded spirits, who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage, being exercis'd with soul-con∣flicts, and under powerful cutting and killing convictions of sin and misery, or Page 136 have such dark and dismal thoughts and apprehensions of hell and the wrath of God, which make them ever and anon to enter into the Chambers of death, and visit the prisoners of the pit, and look upon that black guilt and fiery furnace to be so near, that they are on the brink of it falling down continually. This hath been the case of many of Gods precious ones, who are now in heaven above all these fears and frights that were once more bitter then death. And O how ma∣ny travailing with these pangs and ago∣nies of soul are ready to cry out with holy Job, Chap. 6. 4. The arrowes of the Al∣mighty are within me, the poyson whereof drinketh up my spirit, the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me: Such is the nature of meditation, or considera∣tion, that it will cause future and remote things to have a real, powerful, and deep impression on our minds. As for in∣stance.
A Merchant in India, by his medita∣tion, or contemplation, may converse with his Affairs, his Wife, Children, and Friends in England, or a Merchant that's walking on the Exchange in London, may have his mind and thoughts in Spain, or Page 137Italy, or else where; a Malefactor cast into Prison for some notorious Crime, may, long before the Assizes, converse with all the sad circumstances of his tryal, he may (in his thoughts) see him self brought to the bar, standing before a terrible Judge to heare his indictment read, the Charge prov'd, his doom and sentence pronounced, and see (as it were) himself at the place of his execution, with the rope about his neck, which must immediately hang him: and if you would in good earnest set your selves to consi∣der your latter end, you may really and heart-affectingly converse with old Age Weakness, Sickness, your death-Bed, short-Breathing, cold sweats, dying Pangs, and Groans, Winding-sheets, Cof∣fins, and see your selves (as it were) streched out, nail'd up, and on the shoul∣ders of men carrying to the grave, where Worms and filthy Vermine must feed upon you.
The Servants of God, and Saints of old, have done this with great success, & soul advantage, and so should you. They have reckoned or counted their Lives by dayes, because they were every day lia∣ble to Death, and expected it daily. Page 138Teach us to number our dayes, said Moses, Psal. 90. 12. Few and evil have the dayes of my life been, said old Jacob. For man that is born of a woman, is of few dayes, Job 1. 1, 5. All the time of which (said Job) will I wait till my change come, Job 14. 14. For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house (a dark house) appointed for all living. And Chapter the 17. 1. he said my breath is corrupt, my dayes are extinct, the Graves are ready for me; where-ever he went or came, he was looking for a Grave. Again, by consideration we may not only look to the Grave, but beyond it, to the great Transactions, and asto∣nishing things that shall be after death. We may converse with the worlds burn∣ing, Christ's coming, the Trumpets sounding, the Graves opening, the Deads rising, the Wickeds roaring, who (as jolly as they are) shall then cry to dead and deaf Mountains and Rocks to fall on them to hide them from the dreadful face of the now slighted Son of God; for in that great day of his fierce and terrible wrath, they will not be able to stand, Rev. 6. 16. 17.
By realizing this considerati∣on, we may see the Judge standing be∣hind Page 139 the door; and the Son of God (as it were) ready to break forth out of the Clouds with power and great Glory, as Hierom did, who said, whether I eat or drink, I hear this voice in mine ears, A∣rise ye dead and come to judgement: Now if a right consideration of the great things to come be so penetrating, and heart∣awakening, let death, which alwayes, dog∣geth you at your heels, be often upon your thoughts, your heads and hearts too should be much upon it; every night you lye down, and every morning you arise, let there be some serious and awful thoughts of death and Eternity. That which many have engraven on their Rings, viz, Remember to dye, let it be by the Pen of a Diamond written on your hearts. It's storied of Philip of Macedon that he laid a charge upon one of his ser∣vants to come every morning into his chamber, and proclame this, that he was mortal; and if a Heathen were so careful of keeping the memory of his mortali∣ty, much more should a Christian: we should alwayes remember the dayes of darkness, and keep life and death, hea∣ven and hell before us, there being but a step between us and death. The neglect Page 140 and want of this, was Israels sin, and Jerusalems too, She did not remember her last and, therefore she came down wonderful∣ly, Lam. 1. 9. And this God, who would have us remember, and consider, doth sadly complain ofby the Prophet, Isa. 1. 3. calling heaven and earth to witness for him, Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth, the Oxe knoweth his owner, and the Ass his Masters crib, but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider.
Reas. 3. A serious consideration of your latter end (through grace) will prove an ab∣solute and soveraign Antidote to expel the greatest evil (yea, a means to escape an in∣finite loss) viz. sin, and the dreadful effects, and consequences of it.
What is the cause of that inun∣dation and sea of wickedness, and most prodigious sins, that are now in the world, and in this Nation, in every Ci∣ty, Town, and Place, and in the most Fa∣milies, among all ranks and degrees of men, viz. Magistrates, Ministers, Peo∣ple, Parents, Children, Masters, Servants, Page 141 but this, their not duly, and deeply consi∣dering their latter end; this we find laid down in the word of God to be one main ground of all sin, and of the neglect of all duties.
You careless souls! did you beleive and remember that you must die and come to judgement, that your naked souls, and naked sins, must shortly stand before the most tremendous, direful Judge of quick and dead, the reflection hereof would be as a knife at your throats, as a sword at your breast, or as a hand-writing on the wall, to retard and hinder your constant and desperate course of wicked∣ness.
O what horrid, hellish outrages are, now committed, and that deliberality, impudently, obstinately, even against the light of nature, Conscience, Scripture? What Cursing, Lying, Swearing, Bla∣spheming. Sabbath-breaking, Cheating, Couzening, Stealing! what wantonness, filthiness, uncleanness, swinish drunken∣ness, covetousness, earthly-mindedness! what mocking, scoffing, wrath, envy, malice, pride, passion, and spiritual wick∣edness too, as unbeleif, a theism, impeni∣tency, hypocrisie, apostacy, hatred of Page 142 God, his people, ministers, wayes, and ordinances every where aboundeth! Men declare their sins like Sodom, and are not ashamed of the unfruitful works of dark∣ness; and why? but because they doe not set their minds and hearts upon their latter end.
Poor dying sinners (Let me! out of tender compassion to your bleeding, and almost sinking souls) intreat you as for the Lords sake, to goe down to the grave, to go down to hell in your thoughts, and stop here, and think of the King of ter∣rours, the worm of Conscience, the ap∣proach of Devils, the burning lake, the bottomless pit, the loss of God, of Christ, of Heaven, and your precious souls; re∣member, those fiery, scorching, endless flames, the presence and company of De∣vils, Reprobates and damned spirits; and your sweet morsels will be gall and wormwood to you: these amazing things being truly reflected on, will be as light∣ning in your eyes, as thunder in your ears, as thorns, darts, and swords in your flesh, as poyson in your bowels, as fire in your bones, to compel and force you speedily tocurb and check the reins of your hellish lusts, that you so might five from wrath to come.
Page 143 Did you but view that dark and cold grave, and hot hell that is so neer, you would rather starve or dye then run to that excess of riot; you could not sleep, and snort, dance and sport upon the pits brink under such a consideration.
But forget all this banish the thoughts of God, death, and hell, and you will run and rush into sin, as the horse into battel, Luk. 12. 45, crying peace, peace, till danger, death and destruction com∣eth, 1 Thes. 5. 3.
This was that mighty sin that ripened Jerusalem for ruine, and brought her down wonderfully: her filthiness is in her skirts, she remembreth not her last end. The Lord complaineth by the Prophet Isaiab of the same thing, Israil doth not know; my people doth not consider; but what follows, ah sinful Nation, a people la∣den with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the holy one of Israel; compare Lam. 1. 9. Isa. 1. 3. 4:
But he that doth that which is lawful and right, shall save his soul alive; who is that? he that considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall save his soul, Page 144 whosoever doth perish, that man shall never perish, Ezek. 18. 14. 28.
Reas. 4. The consideration of your latter and, will be a powerful incentive to make you exert and put forth the greatest industry in a way of duty, yea, it will certainly have an influence upon all our duties, and upon all our graces; for considering and doing are frequently joyn'd together, Psal. 41. 1. Prov. 31. 16. she considereth a field, and buyeth it: I thought on my wayes, or consider∣ed my wayes, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies, Psal. 119. 59. Lam. 3. 40. Heb. 10: This, if any thing, will make you serious, diligent, and constant in any duty, and to work while it is day, before the night cometh wherein no man can work. The Apostle exhorts to consider one another, to provoke to love and good works, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching, Heb. 10. 24, 25. The remembrance of the day of our death, and of our passing into eternity, with a deep impression of it upon the heart, will be as a voice of thunder, speak∣ing to the secure sensless sinner, awake, Page 145 awake thou that sleepest, open thine eys, stand upon thy feet, and behold and see what a sea of blood and wrath is here. See and beleive, beleive and consider, consider and fear, fear and fly, and make hast in thy work: Thy work is great and weighty, diversions are many, ad∣versaries are strong, thy strength is small, thy time is short, thy account is great, death and judgement are at the door, therefore up and be doing, now, or never.
You slow and slothful souls! Let your apparent and inevitable danger suddenly provoke and spur you unto your duty, to seek the Lord in a time accepted, before the door of life beshut, God with-drawn, and mercy quite gone.
The prophanest Sea-man, will sigh, mourn, pray, promise, vow, if death and danger looks him in the face; when the ship was like to be broken, and death threatned immediately to surprize them, the Marriners were sore afraid, and cry∣ed every one to his God. And this, the very light of nature dictated to the ship∣master (though a Heathen) that then it was no season to sleep, what meanest thou O sleeper? arise and call upon thy Page 146 God, if so be that God will think upon us that we perish not, Joneh 1. 6. and the most notorious thieves and murder∣ers will pray in prison, or when they come to the Gallows, the place of execu∣tion.
When the most righteous Judge sent his destroying Angels to the City of Lon∣don, and other places in the year 65. for the dreadful fear of which many thou∣sands did flye, and many thousands did fall, viz. the carkases of men like dung upon the ground, and as handfuls after the Harvest man. When death did knock at a thousand doors in one night, Owhat confessing of sin, fastings, crying, and im∣portunate knocking was there at the throne of grace (and it may be by many persons & families, that prayed but little before or since) that God would pity, pardon, and remove that amazing, sweeping judgement, which is now al∣most forgotten. Upon an unwakening ap∣prehension of Ninevehs fatal ruine, the King and his Nobles decreed and pro∣claimed a Fast, and injoyned every one to cry mightily to God, Jonah 3. 7.
Sinners, were you but truly sensible of your peril, you would pray to purpose, Page 147viz. more ardently, more in wardly, more deeply, more affectionately then ever you have done. It was a supposed danger, and that of death, that caused Jacob to weep and make supplication, for Esau hated Jacob, and said in his heart, the dayes of mourning for my Father are at hand, then will I stay my brother Jacob, Gen. 27. 42. and Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed, Gen. 31. 7. Which made him so importunate with God for deli∣verance, and he prevailed, Gen. 31. 11. Hos. 12. 4. Poor sinners! your case is dan∣gerous (I will not say desperate) but you are ignorant of it; you do not know that you are poor, miserable, blind, and naked; were you but sensible that you are liable to the wrath of God, the stroke and sting of death every moment, it would constrain you to cry mightily to God for pardon. Holy Job, when he con∣sidered of Death and Judgement, set prayer to work, and said, Why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity for now shall I sleep in the dust: O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me, Job 7, 21. &. 14. 13. Page 148 This also made those two gracious Kings Hezekiah and David, to weep and pray in the bitterness of their souls: In those dayes was Hezekiah sick unto death, and Isaiah the Prophet came unto him, and said, thus saith the Lord, set thine house in order, for thou shalt dye, and not live; then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and wept sore, and prayed to the Lord, Isa. 28. 1, 2, 3. David, when the sorrows of death com∣passed him, and paines of hell got hold of him, then (said he) I called upon the Lord, O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul, Psal. 116. 3, 4. Jonah that could sleep in the ship, prayed in the Whales belly, Out of the belly of hell I cryed, and thou heard∣est my voice, Jonah 2. 2. The Apostle Peter, and Christ himself presseth pray∣er from the consideration of the end of the world. The end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober, and watch un∣to prayer, 1 Pet. 4. 7. and pray (saith Christ) that you may escape all these things, and stand before the Son of man, Luk. 21. 36. Neither doth our dear Lord Jesus press that on us, which he did not pra∣ctice; for being sensible of the bitter and most dreadful cup of his Fathers wrath, prayed, Father, if it be possi∣ble, Page 149 let this cup pass, Matth, 26. 39.
Sinners! let me tell you, as secure and sensless as you are, an awakning impres∣sion of approaching death and judgement upon your souls; would be as the cry at midnight, to excite and stir you up, to get in your Oyle, and to trim your lamp. The Virgins, both wise and foolish, were all asleep and secure enough, until that sudden and amazing cry was heard, be∣hold the Bridegroom cometh, go you forth to meet him, Math. 26. 6. Then they all arose, and trimmed their Lamps. 'Tis the storm and rain that hastens the Bee into the Hive, that brings the Tra∣veller into his Inn, the Ship into the Hare bour; so likewise the sense of death, the dead and drousie Professor unto his prayer; in their afflictions they will seek me early, Hos. 5. 15.
Anh eart-affecting meditation of un∣changeable eternity, will be as a voice from the clouds, crying, hast sinner hast, post hast, hast as for thy life in the work of faith and repentance, in parting with sin, and closing with Jesus Christ, without which there will be no hope. Noah was moved with fear, and prepared and got into the Ark, to the saving of his house, when the se∣cure Page 150 deluded world died by the deluge, Heb. 11. 7. Knowing the terrour of the Lord we perswade men, 2 Cor. 5. 11.
You wretched sinners, that will not beleive or consider until you are just dropping into the pit, if you had but a lit∣tle cranny to look into the other world, how violent and resolute would you be in the speedy prosecution of your known duty; you would examine, prove, and try your selves; you would read, hear, meditate, watch, pray, repent, fear, love, obey more then ever. Did you see, the night will come, is coming, and that the dayes of darkness shall be many, whatso∣ever you do, you would do it with your might, Eccl. 9. 10. Now before the de∣cree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, seek ye the Lord; for how shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation, Zeph. 2. 23. Heb. 2. 3.
Reas. 5. You are to consider your latter and, because there lyeth your highest wisdom. O that they were wise, &c. If you would Page 151 be so wise as to exceed all the Wise men; great Statists and Polititians in the world, it must be in considering of, and preparing for your end. Sirs, in this you are most concerned, because hereby you will promote your own interest, for it will make a man profitable to himself, wise for himself, Job. 22. 2. Prov. 9. 12. 'Tis true wisdome to understand this, viz. to be wise to that which is good, Rom. 16. 19. to be wise in Christ; to secure the cheifest good, is the best wisdom.
There are many worldly wise men, who while they live provide for every thing but death, and they are often ready to dye, before they begin to live (in a spiritual sense) and is it not a very unfit and sad season, to prepare for death when its a burden to live? And indeed such are the many evils attending old age, that men can have no pleasure in them, Eccl. 12. 1, And shall these be ac∣counted the only wise men, that are but wise in their Generation to get the world, to pursue lying vanities, and forsake their own mercies, to hew out cisterns, bro∣ken cisterns rhat can hold no water, and forsake the fountain of living water? this is to prefer Pebbles before Pearls, to gain Page 152 Larth, and to lose Heaven, Jer. 2. 13. Jonah 2. 8. Math. 16. 26. To be hap∣py for a time, and miserable to eterni∣ty.
True wisdom, and serious considerati∣on, is exercised about things good & evil, yea it is conversant about the best good, how it may attain it, and about the worst evil, how it may impede, avoid and escape it, chusing the most adequate and effe∣ctual means to bring it to pass. This ex∣cellent divine wisdom is proper and pro∣fitable to direct, Prov. 10. 10. and so it doth every considering godly man while he lives, firstly and firmly to secure that which he hath of greatest value, viz. a precious soul, more worth then any thing he stands possessed of: If all the Rocks were Pearls, all the earth and Heaven Gold, or if all the water in the vast Ocean were converted into Crystal, or the most precious stones in the world, and put all into one scale, and the soul into the other scale, the soul would weigh it all down. Our dear Lord tells us, that the gaining of the whole world is an invaluable consideration to the loss of our soul, Math. 16. So that he must be wise indeed, that hath gotten a Cabi∣net Page 153 for this rare incomparable Jewel, where it will be for ever safe. He that winneth souls is wise, saith the wisest of a meer man, Prov. 11. 30, and sure then he is so that saves his own. Again, he that considereth his end, is in the very way to procure and make the best friend, that will certainly stand him in stead to pur∣pose, and in the greatest peril, viz. God, Christ, Angels, Saints, Conscience, Scri∣pture, his real friends. When once the breach is made up between God and the poor soul, who can harm or hurt it? If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom. 8. I will lay me down and sleep in peace, Psa. 14. 8. Moreover, he provideth against the greatest wants, by the laying up for a spending time. There was not a man to be found in all Egypt so wise as Joseph, who fore-seeing their want, filled the store-houses against the years of Famine. He that gathereth his meat in the Sum∣mer, saith Solomon, is wise, Prov. 10. 5. Consider the time of youth is your Sum∣mer; old-age, a sick-bed, is not a ga∣thering, but a spending time, and you are not wise, wise towards God, wise for your precious soules, that do not make it your business to Trade, and lay up a Page 154 stock and store against that time. Many a silly soul like the wanton Grashopper, leaps and ckips, chirps and sings all the Summer, and when the Winter cometh perisheth for want: But the truly serious and considering soul, like the laborious Bee or Ant, toils and labours in the Sum∣mer: And that man might put off sloth, and learn his duty, and so provide for time to come, Solomen sends him to the Ant, Go to the Ant thou sluggard, consider her wayes, and be wise, which provideth her meat in the Summer, and gathereth her food in Harvest; Prov. 6. 6, 8. And so the wise in heart, that trade for eternity, lay up, the best supplies against the evil day which are the favour of God, an interest in Christ, pardon of sin, peace of con∣science, a stock of prayers, rich and choice experiences, and love-tokens of their fathers favour, the evidences for their heavenly Country. This is the hid∣den and heavenly treasure of the godly man, who only is called the man of wis∣dom, Micah 6. 9.
Besides, he preventeth the worst evils, viz. the guilt of sin, the sting of death, sorrows of hell, terrours of Conscience; the wrath of God, the loss of God, his Page 155 soul, and heaven. This infinite and irreparable evil or loss he shall never su∣stain, because this timely consideration of death and judgement, will be a means to fit him for it. They that were ready went in to the Marriage, Matth. 25. 10.
But for you that are careless of your immortal souls, that think not of death, that will not consider your latter end (if infinite mercy doth not speedily prevent) you will certainly dye without wisdom; if you do not seasonably secure your souls, make God and Christ your friends (while the poor people of God lay up a treasure in heaven, a good foundation a∣gainst the time to come.) You will treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and revela∣tion of the righteous judgement of God, Rom. 2. 5. And this is the doleful case of many worldly wise men, & of those too whose office and imployment is to keep (if it might be) others alive, viz. to cure dis∣eases and prevent death. It is observed concerning Paracelsus, a great Physi∣tian, a man very skilful in Chymical Experiments, that he bragged and boast∣ed, that he had attained to such wis∣dom in discerning the constitutions of men, and in studying remedies, that who∣soever Page 156 did follow his rules, and keep his directions, should never dye by any dis∣ease, casually he might, and of age he must, but he would undertake to secure his health against diseases. A bold and most presumptuous undertaking: But he who by Art promised to protect others, could not by his art make himself a pro∣tection in the prime of his age, who died before, or when he had lived but thirty years.
Poor mortals! sith that thou cant pre∣vent death, it is your wisdome to prepare for it, and forasmuch as you cannot by any means, power or skill, keep off the stroak of death, get while you may a re∣medy or Antidote against the sting of Death, that when you dye you may not dye unpreparedly, or dye without wis∣dom. For man in honour that understandeth not, is like the beast that perisheth, Psal. 49. 20. So died that miserably mistaken rich man, who (though by himself or others judged wise) in the account of the only wise God was a very fool: who provi∣ding only for the time of life, and not for death, did deserve the name of thou fool, This night shall thy soul be requir'd, Lu. 12. 20. a dark and dreadful night indeed, Page 157 in which he lost both worlds at once, earth and heaven too. And will you say, that you are wise, and not consider what your end will be. The five Virgins are called foolish Virgins; but why? because they did not make provision for the Bridegroom's coming, and when they came to the Door it was shut upon them; ah! sad and dreadful disappointment, Mat. 25. 10.
But the diligent and prepared soul, that hath gotten in his oyl, and made all ready, is in a capacity to look upon Death with a smiling aspect, because the deadly poyson and sting is out, and it can but kill the body, 'tis not able to hurt the soul: But the sleepy secure sin∣ner will be dreadfully surprized as Bel∣shazzar was by the hand writing that ap∣peared on the wall, the terrifying and amazing sight of which changed his countenance, and troubled his thoughts, so that neither his Wine, his wives, or Concubines could comfort him: who had lifted up himself against the Lord of Hea∣ven, Dan. 5.
Sinners! Consider the King of ter∣rours is a terrible sight, and none more, then to those that have their heaven here, Page 158 it will be to such as the tearing their caul from their very hearts, worse then cut∣ting off a Member from the body; for many have suffered the loss of Members, to save their lives; O death, death, death, how bitter, bitter, is the remembrance of thee to the man that is at ease in his possession. And let me tell you, evils and dangers, by how much the more sudden and un∣expected they are, by so much the more dreadful and astonishing they are. What a sad and hidious cry was there in E∣gygt, when at midnight God smote their first-born, and also when the Earth o∣pened her mouth and swallowed up Ko∣rah and his cursed company, that went down alive into the pit, insomuch that all Israel fled at the cry of them, for they said, lest the earth swallow us up also, Numb. 16. 31, 32, 34. And how terrible was that sudden shower of fire and brimstone upon filthy Sodom, after a bright Sun-shine morning, Gen. 19. 23, 34 So when grim and ghashly. Death cometh in a black night, and draweth the curtain, and looketh upon the secure sin∣net, it will be very formidable, for who can look Death in the face, that dare not look God or his own conscience in the Page 159 face? But the sincerely godly man, fit∣ted for death, may look and live above the fear of Death, and Hell, and welcome Death, as old Jacob did the Waggons, that his son Joseph sent to fetch him down to Egypt; when he saw the waggons the spirit of Jacob their Father revived, Gen. 46. 27. Death, though a grim Porter, will open the gate of Glory to every Beleiver, and let them into their Fathers house, for both life and death are theirs, 1 Cor. 3. 22. Blessed are the dead, that dye in the Lord, Rev. 14. 13. To me to live is Christ, and to dye is gain, Phil. 1. 11. Whoso is wise will observe these things. These are the reasons why your latter end must be conside∣red.
If it be a duty so necessary to mind your end, I shall descend to improve it by way of; Application.
Ʋse. This calls aloud unto all you unconverted sinners that have made no preparation for Death and Judgement, to stand and wonder, or to sit down and Page 160 admire at the unwearied patience, the matchless and amazing mercy of the in∣finitely gracious and glorious God.
Hath the most righteous judge, and sin∣revenging God, held your souls in life, and kept you from death and Hell to this ve∣ry day? And will you not, even to asto∣nishment, adore the unsearchable riches of grace? Men commonly wonder at things above their reach, or that for which they can give no reason, and espe∣cially at rare, singular and unmerited mercy. Now stop a little, and spend a few serious thoughts, and consider what reason can be given that you should be numbred among the living, when so ma∣ny are dead; that you should be in the world, and so many thousands of Men, Women, and Children in their Graves, and their precious souls you know not where. Now that your bodies are not laid up in that dark and dismal prison of the Grave, and your dear never-dying souls, bound, fettered, and chained in that direful, painful, prison of hell, is matter of the greatest wonder in all the world. Have you not cause to doubt, that many of your neighbours, relations, and sin∣ful companions & accquaintance are gone Page 161 down thither, & it may be some of those you least suspect. And you know not how many are now in flames for the ve∣ry same sins that you stand guilty of, if not less sinners then your selves. O ad∣mire and bless God with your whole souls, that you are yet on this side the grave, and not gone down into that place of torment; you enjoy many opportuni∣ties for your souls, and are still exhort∣ed to part with sin, to turn to God, to accept of Christ, to think of death and hell, that so you might never see it or feel it, for there is much more in the paines of hell, and wrath of God, then ever you heard, or can imagine. Accord∣ing to thy fear said Moses, so is thy wrath, Psal. 90. 11.
Poor sinners! you are still the living Monuments of infinite kindness, and therefore let not the living man com∣plain. Suppose you had dyed when death seemed neer, when you were sick and weak, ready to give up the ghost, or when those many thousands dyed by the Plague or Sword, in what a miserable condition had your souls been, to be shut up with Devils and damned spirits in that Lake that burneth with fire and Page 162 brimstone. And will you still maintain your enmity, encrease iniquity, and even dare God to damn you. Sinners, are you not besides your selves, yea stark mad, to make God that should be your best friend your worst fo, for if his anger be kindled but a little, it will burn to the lowest hell, and none can quench it or stand before it. Can thine heart endure, or thine hands be strong in the day that I shall deal with thee? Ezek. 22. 14. Who can dwell with de∣vouring fire, who would (saith the Lord) set the bryars and thorns against me in battel? I would go through them, I would burn them up together, Isa. 27. 4. O when will you come to your selves, and throw away your arms, and consider your souls; or will you not be saved? when shall it once be? why will you dye? Let these cords of love draw you, and cause you to say, Be∣hold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.
Consider, others dreadful ruine hath been your warning, that are now lockt up in that dark dungeon, and shall come up no more, and whom the Devils are now tormenting, the worm biting, and the fire burning. You are at present free from that boyling Chaldron, and in the Page 163 Land of the Living, O praise, praise the Lord for his long-suffering, you being but as it were under a repreive; O prize, and improve your life, and timely pre∣pare for death, for if thy life were ended, thy soul seperated, and not peace with God made, thou wert an undone soul: There's no place for repentance in the Grave, no Christ or pardon to be obtain∣ed in hell. Bless God, your glass run∣eth, your Lamp burneth, the day of grace is yet continued, your dear Lord is upon the Mercy-seat, therefore there is hope.
Ʋse 2. This justly reprehendeth all that flight or neglect this great duty, but especially these three sorts: neither of which do seriously consider their lat∣ter end:
- 1. The insolent Atheistical Sensualists.
- 2. The Ignorant and considerate:
- 3. The Self confident & presumptuous.
1. It condemneth Atheistical sensua∣lists, that put the evil day far from them, Amos 6. 3. and who drown or banish the awful thoughts of God, Death and E∣ternity Page 164 out of our minds and hearts? They take the Timbrel and Harp, and re∣joyce at the sound of the Organ, and say unto God, depart from us, for we desire not the knowledg of thy wayes, Job 21. 12, 24. God is not in all their thoughts, Psal. 10. 14. They are resolved for a short life and a merry, what ever the dreadful issue. They chant to the sound of the Viol, and drink wine in bowls, and eat the Lambs out of the flock, and stretch themselves upon their Couches, saying, in their hearts, as that wretch, Luk. 12. 19. take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry: they will satisfie their lusts, in∣joy the pleasures of the flesh, walk in the wayes of their heart, and in the sight of their eyes, and hereby they make the breach wider, and themselves seven times more the children of the Devil, though at last they sit down in everlasting sor∣row. Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we dye.
You poor desperately deluded souls! did you beleive what you have read and heard of the other world, or what the Scripture of infalilble verity speaketh of the infinitely holy, great, and terrible God (who will in no wise clear the Page 165 guilty) you would quickly change your Course; did you now consider you must dye, and be judged, that in a very little time you which hear me this day, must stand before the dreadful God; would you sin so freely, love the world so im∣moderately, mock at a Deity, jeer at serious piety, neglect your Duty, trifle away your time, forget eternity, and hazard those your precious souls as you have done and do? Such Rake hels and devils incarnate the Apostle speaketh of, 2 Pet. 3. 10. Know this first, i. e. before the end of the world: There shall come in the last dayes scoffers, walking after their own lasts, and saying where is the promise of his com∣ing? Nevertheless these Vipers, vile miscreants, and, monsters in mens shape, think that they are wise, when indeed they have no understanding. Wise they are, but it is to do evil, to cavil against the truth, dispute against the life of holiness, but to do good they have no knowledg, Jer. 4. 22.
This was Jerusalems great sin imme∣diately before the fierce anger of the Lord came upon them; and this is the sad and dreadful case of many, yea thousands in the world, and in these Nations; Page 166 notwithstanding all those awakening de∣solating providences, and amazing spe∣ctacles of mortality their eyes have seen.
There are but a few that look upon themselves as concerned at all, just like a company of simple sheep in a fat pa∣sture. The Butcher cometh and fetcheth one to Day, another to morrow, the rest feed on, and take no notice of what is become of their lost companions. 'Tis as if a company of condemned persons (re∣prievd for a time) should be appointed to be executed one after another, within the space of so many Dayes. This Day the first in order is brought forth and ex∣ecuted, the day following a second, yet all the rest that are to take their turnes, fall a Drinking, Carding, Singing, Swearing, and so continue to the very last, until they be all Hang'd, Dead, and Damn'd. We may compare this mad deluded world, to a company of poor blind men dancing about the brink of a very dangerous deep pit, but do not per∣ceive it, or see how each falleth in one after the other; a first, second, and third drops down, the rest not discerning the danger runs the round: I shall thus ap∣ply it. This day or hour a Swearer Page 167 tumbleth down to hell. The next a drun∣kard. This evening or morning the pale horse mounteth one, it may be a cursed Atheist, or a malitious bloody persecu∣tor, or a filthy Adulterer, or an idola∣trous worldling, and carrieth him to the place of Darkness. The next day he re∣ceiveth his Commission to fetch some more of them; those their brethren in ini∣quity that are lest behinde, keep and con∣tinue their course, and dance about the pit, not considering they so must die, and come to judgement. How little do the living lay to heart this great business of their Mortality, insomuch that when they would deny a thing with greatest confidence, they will commonly say they thought no more of it then of their dying day, as if death were not a matter of any moment, but rather a meer toy, or trifle, not to be regarded. She remembred not her last end. Lam. 1. 9.
You self destroying sinners! Do you know that you must dye and leave the world for ever, and are you so stupified, and mad, as not to think of Death in ma∣ny dayes together, yea, hardly to enter∣tain a serious thought of death and judg∣ment at a house of mourning; in the ve∣ry Page 168 sight of the dead you can be vain, frothy, jest, pot, pipe, feast, discourse of the world; a sad proof that men do not consider their latter end. Some at that solemn and sad season, seem a little serious, but as soon as the dead Corps is removed, and the Grave and Coffin out of sight, Death is no more remem∣bred. To make you sensible of this fol∣ly, let me reason with you in a few plain hints.
What, no thoughts of death, you that have been under a sentence of death, and brought to the very pits brink, looking into Eternity! Oh how sad is it to think how quickly those thoughts and impres∣sions of your mortallity have worn out and past away! Sinner, remember and forget not those secret vows, promises, and engagements you then made to God, (viz.) that you would part with sin, leave your wicked company, set loose to the world, live godly, and make it your bu∣siness to be religious, and loose no more of your precious time and opportunities for your soul. If you have forgotten it, the all-seeing and heart-searching God remembers it. Know and consider in thy heart, that death that did but warn thee Page 169 then, by sending his summons, will short∣ly come himself.
Forgetful of Death! and made of dust, born of a woman, and under a Decree not to be revoked by men or Angels! Heb. 6. 27. Job 14. 3. As for man, his dayes are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds, that he cannot pass.
Not mind your death! you that have sickly, weak, diseased bodies, full of paines and aches, that are so many partial quotidian deaths; yea a dying daily? What, put off the thoughts of death! thou that hast been at so many Funerals, heard so many passing Bells or Knells, seen so many Graves, Skuls, and Cof∣fins before thine eyes! Forget your death! and yet sinners, and sinning daily, carry∣ing the cause and sting of death in your bosoms! mors in corpore, the body is dead because of sin, Rom. 8. 11. Thy body is but a body of death, sin hath kill'd it, the sentence is past, Gen. 3. The wages of sin is death, Rom. 6. 1. The soul that sins must dye, Ezek. 18. 20. What put off this e∣vil Day! and dead in part, old and cold, having one foot in the grave, viz. feeble knees, trembling hands, wrinkled faces, Page 170 gray or bald heads, the grave being rea∣dy, for you? What, no more serious thoughts of death! and so many pieces and parcels of your selves gone before to this long home; so many Relations and Children now a sleep in the dust of death? are they buried in perpetual oblivion, never to be remembred any more?
What Sinner! What not think of Death! and Death at thy very heels, and before thine eyes, whither can you direct your eyes; and not see that which preach∣eth or representeth Death? all the Win∣ter Death is on the Trees, in our Gar∣dens, in every flower; At your Table every day you feed on the flesh of dead Creatures, to tell you that you must die; and is not death in your beds every night? what is sleep but the picture and image of cold Death? and your beds but the representation of your dark graves?
O careless besotted sinners! not con∣sider of death! and have precious souls, that must live or die, be saved or damn∣ted to Heaven or Hell, to bliss or burn∣ing, to God or Devils, to Saints or cur∣sed Reprobates, as soon as the breath is gon, which may be the next day or hour? Page 171 this pale horse death, hath the red horse Hell following him, Rev. 6. 8. Lastly, what not think of, and prepare for Death! and called Christians, that pro∣fess you beleive the Resurrection of the body, and life everlasting, a happiness beyond the Grave, For in this life only (saith Paul) wt have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, 1 Cor. 15. 19.
Poor hardned sinners! that now for∣get God, and this great and mighty con∣cern of your eternal souls, what will you do in the day of Visitation? when your iniquities shall compass you about, and no friend in heaven above, or in earth beneath, that can stand you in stead; and when conscience, like a bold sturdy Sergeant, shall take you by the throat, and summon you in the Name of the great Judge, to come and stand at or before the judgement seat. Ʋnderstand ye brutish among the people, and ye fools, when will ye be wise? Psal. 94 8. to understand this, to provide for your latter end.
2. This blames the ignorant pettish and considerate soul, who in an angry fit or passion wisheth for death out of a base end, viz. as a writ of ease, or out-let to Page 172 present pain, poverty, sickness, and other worldly troubles and perplexities, not rightly considering how terrible death is, or what are the dreadful consequences of it. Now that we may be convinced of this sin and folly, give me leave to tell you, that between the worst, longest, and deepest miseries and calamities of this life, and those after death, there is no pro∣portion, but an exceeding distance.
Poor deluded souls! what is the bite of a flea, to the sting of a Serpent? or a scratch on the hand, to a stab at the heart? what's the heat and smart of a little can∣dle, to a hot fiery furnace, or a devour∣ing flame? What's a drop of gall, to a Sea, or Ocean of poyson? or what is pain, forture or anguish for an hour, to intol∣lerable misery time without end, into which to the unconverted death will cer∣tainly be the door? and are you so mad to imagine that there is nothing in the other world to be feared, or felt worse then outward pressures, perils, pains, which are but bodily miseries, and that but for a moment? This sin not only the prophane world are guilty of, but some of those that profess the Name of God. Rebecah said to Isaac, I am weary of my Page 173 life because of the Daughters of Heth, Gen 27. 46. Rachel cryes out, give me Chil∣dren, or else I dye, Gen. 30. 1. Elisha being threatned by Jezabel said, O Lord, take a∣way my life, 1 Kings 19. 4. Jonah for the loss of a poor gourd, said, its better for me to dye then to live, and told God to his very face, that he did well to be angry, even unto death, Jonah 4. 9. The Israelites when they wanted water wisht they had died in the wilderness. These and the like wicked wishes are in the mouths of many poor ignorant, discontented per∣sons, who long to be out of this wretch∣ed world.
Now by way of conviction, I shall lay down these following particulars.
1. What think you of these inward, and soul-straits, and conflicts with which Gods poor afflicted people are sadly ex∣ercis'd. And were you but sensible of the guilt and weight of sin, a wounded spirit, the wrath of God, and those e∣verlasting burnings; it would quickly swallow up your outward miseries, though never so many. This is evident in the example of the Jaylor, who for the loss of his prisoners was so tormented, that he would have kill'd himself before Page 174 he was convinced of the dreadful state of his soul that was in danger of ruin, Act. 16. 27, 28, 29, 30. Then he fell, and cri∣ed out, Sirs, what shall I do to be saved?
2. To wish for death, because of the evils attending this life, is very wicked, and dangerous, interpretatively, and in effect it is to wish your souls in hell.
Consider and mind this also, that your present sorrowes, crosses, troubles, of what kind or degree soever they be, are the fruits of your ill-doings, and fatless then you deserve, for its a wonder you are not in hell! and will you dare to be so audacious, as to flye in the face of your faithful Creator, when you should be deeply sensible of your horrible wicked∣ness, and humble under Gods hand, and accepting of the punishment of your sin¦ye should repent and turn to God; take a∣way the cause, and the effect will cease.
3. You can please and gratifie the De∣vil your deadly adversaty in nothing more; you wish for death, so doth the de∣vil too; if you are his now, you must be his then; his here, and his for ever: He waits, and longs that your breath were gone, your souls separated, there∣fore he would have you poyson, hang Page 195 drown, starve, or stob your selves that you might be dead, damn'd and burn'd with him in hell.
4. Moreover, if you were dead you would suddenly repent, and change your mind, and, if it might be, give the world to be alive again, with all the wants, pains, and greif you now endure. Had you but a peeping hole into hell, to see and here what they endure, you would confess your sins, judge your selves, and close with Christ before you dye, that so you might not come into that dreadful place of torment. Now that you may hear, and fear, and do no more so wick∣edly, Let me ask you.
1. What think you of the sting and bitterness of death, when a man comes to dye, Conscience being awakened, roaring like a Lyon, death the King of terrours standing by, when the guilt of past-sins and loss of precious time, will be as so many fiery darts, and stinging scorpions, biting and gnawing on the heart? What think you it will be to dye unconverted, to dye in a state of sin, and wrath, a Tra∣tor to God, in a state of unbelief and im∣penitency (the soul-damning sins) to dye with an evil heart, an accusing consci∣ence, Page 176 self condemn'd, cast in your own breast, to dye, which is worst of all.
2. What think you of the sadness and amazing terrour of approaching judg∣ment, the second death, when a man comes to take a dreadful view of the o∣ther world, and begins to reflect and think. Wherefore was I born, what have I been doing, are all these my sins? O where shall I leave them? or how shall I be rid of them, now I am dying? whi∣ther am I going? what will be my com∣pany? where shall be the place? and how near am I to it? what must I endure? and how long? how long? and consci∣ence will answer, to all eternity, misery without end. This will amaze, con∣found and overwhelm the soul with fear, and perturbation, when it sees that hea∣ven is lost, and that it must down, down to the Region of darkness, and company of Devils, in that state of everlasting wo. The killing thoughts of which made a great man wish, that he might live, though bur the life of a Toad.
3. What think you of the impartia∣lity of the Judge, that will not spare the guilty, must and will Judge and sentence according to the fact, and reward every Page 177 man according to his works? He would not spare the Angels that sinn'd, but cast them down to hell, 2 Pet. 2. 4. not A∣dam, but cast him out of paradise, and set a flaming (word against him, neither will he spare any impenitent sinner in the day of his wrath; justice obliges him to justifie the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
4. What think you of the impossibility of having any appeal? There will be no Moses to mediate, no mediator to plead, no Daniel, Noah, or Job to intercede or to stand in the gap, not an Intercessor in Earth or Heaven to be found to speak a word. There can be no appeal to God, his Calls and Councels have been refused, his Interest opposed, his Enemies counte∣nanced, his laws violated, his Anger will burn like fire. No appeal to Jesus Christ, his Government hath been slighted, his Grace and Person rejected or to the, Ho∣ly Ghost, he hath been quencht and greived: or to angels or Saints; all will be against you.
5. Whar think you of the resignation of soul and body to the executioner and tormentor, the red dragon? 'tis sad to see a poor malefactor committed to the Page 178 Jaylor or Hangman, but O how much more dreadful will it be for ever-living souls in the face of men and Angels, to be delivered into the hands of that raging, roaring Lyon, the Devil? When God the righteous Judge shall say in sight of the whole world, here are the men that brak my Statutes, prophaned my Sabbaths, that hated my Saints, that served the De∣vil, in the satisfying their Lusts, the open and professed Adversaries to my Name and Interest, that would not, though I often intreated them, come at my call, accept of my love, receive my Son, or endure a life of holiness, or by any means be drawn and perswaded to think of and prepare for death and judgement, though they had time and opportunity enough: Now take them devil, and a∣way to hell with them; for my soul ab∣hors them. Thy Covenant servants and voluntary slaves they were in time, and thy prisoners in chains of darkness they shall be eternity, to be tormented day and night for ever. Rev. 20. 10.
6. What think you of eternal ba∣nishment and separation from God, Christ, Angels, Saints, Heaven? This is Page 179 the punishment of loss, and the worst of hell, Matth. 25. 41. Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels: O terrible, terrible! to be doom'd or sentenc'd to lye under the wrath and hatred of the infinitely great and dreadful God for ever and ever, as long as God shall live, whose being is to eternity, as long as there is a Devil to torment, or to be tormented, shall their plagues last. The fearful and unbeleiving, and the abominable, Murderers, Whore∣mongers, Lyars, Dogs, Sorcerers, carry all their sins down to hell with them, the fuel that feeds the wrath of God, so that the Oyl of sin causes the Lamp of wrath to burn & flame everlastingly. The debt of sin can never be paid, justice never satis∣fied, for the damn'd soul remains impeni∣tent, and God implacable, so that there can be no hope of pardon. The sentence is strict, unchangeable, irreversable, eter∣nal. O eternity! eternity! this stings, plagues, and augments, and aggravates the most intollerable punishment of the damn'd. After an innumerable thousands of years they shall think it but the be∣ginning of their sorrows, and shall be Page 180 so far from an end, as if they had been in hell but an hour. It will be everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, 2 Thes. 1. 9. In comparison of which, all the rendings, rackings, tearings, torturings of mens bodies here, by the most exqui∣site torments upon racks, gibbets, wheels grid-irons, boyling lead, boyling oyl, and other bloudily invented engines and in∣struments of amazing cruelty, are but a flea-biting.
Sinners! 'tis hell, hell, that will make the sadly tormented soul seek death, wish, and long for that which shall never be, Rev. 9. 6. And will you desire and wish for the woeful day? God forbid! now your condition may be changed, then it will be stated. Wo, wo unto you that desire the day of the Lord, to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not Light, Amos 5. 18. A day of glosminess, a day of clouds, and of thick darkness, at which the people shall be much pained, and all faces shall gather blackness, the inhabitants of the Land shall tremble, for the day of the Lord is very terrible, Joel 2. Now therefore do not wickedly wish it, but wisely consider and prepare Page 181 for it: And blessed is that servant whom when his Lord cometh, findeth so do∣ing.
3. It reproves the selfc-onfident and pre∣sumptuous, who conclude upon a fitness and preparedness for death and judg∣ment upon very slight and unwarranta∣ble grounds, namely, because they se∣parate from the notoriously wicked, are not prophane, make a profession, shew some legal sorrow for sin, run the round of duty, though carnal and heart∣less enough in those duties, from hence they easily perswade themselves that all is well, viz. That they are the Children of God, in a state of grace, and going to Heaven, and as fit to dye as the very best. How many thousands are there in the Christian world, that securely sleep and dream of an interest in Christ, that hope and promise themselves a future and glorious felicity, who are but meet moral men, and worse, or rotten paint∣ed Hypocrites at the best, having only a form of Godliness, restraining, Page 182 counterfeit, or common grace? Such were the Scribes and Pharisees, & the foo∣lish Virgins, & yet confident to the very last; they came to the door with a Lord, Lord, open unto us. They had blazing Lamps, but no oil in their Lamps or Ves∣sels, no real union with Jesus Christ, no precious faith, no sincere love or evan∣gelical repentance, the root of the mat∣ter was not in them.
You that have a name to live, take heed you be not deceived; if you are not truly united unto Jesus Christ, he will certainly disown you. The Lord Jesus tells us of such sadly deluded souls, that shall stand up at the last day, and challenge a reward in Hea∣ven, to whom he will protest, I know you not, Matth. 7. 23. they never sa∣vingly knew him, had never any uni∣on or communion with Christ in the world. Many are called, but few cho∣sen, the Children of the kingdome (saith Christ) shall be cast out. And I must tell you, who-ever comes to hea∣ven, will miss many there which they thought to find, and find others there they little expected. The Sinners in Sion are more then a few, the Goates Page 183 more then the Sheep, the Tares more then the Wheat, more reprobate silver then pure tryed gold. The pure in heart and truly godly man that mourns and bleeds for sin, that loves God, and pri∣zes Christ above the world, is many times full of feares and doubts about his soul, and the eternal condition of it: O what would he not give to be assured that all is well between God and him? to know that God and Christ is his, that he is fit to live or die, because a mistake here is very dreadful, and of an infinite consequence? But on the contrary, the foolish, disobedient, and that are deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in sin, and alienated from the life of God, having no hope, and without God in the world, are high∣ly confident, and strongly perswaded that it shall go well with them in the world to come. I knew a poor igno∣rant prophane wretch, being told on his death bed (and but a little before he entred into eternity) that death was come; replied, where is it, i'le go forth and meet it? putting his legs over the beds side, in a little time gave up the Ghost. Therefore in this great soul∣affair, Page 184 let none be so fool-hardy, as to trust without tryal. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have re∣joycing in himself, and not in another, for every man shall bear his own burthen, Gal. 6. 4, 5.
Quest. If the consideration of our lat∣ter end is a matter of such moment, why do men and women that have immortal souls think no more of it?
Answ. 1. The great cause is from that horrid cursed atheism and unbeleif, which is deeply rooted and riveted in mens minds and hearts. They do not credit that wonderful and astonishing Doctrin of the other world, according to the beleif of which they must live or die to all eternity.
If we should take a serious prospect of endless eternity, & of those great things men seem to beleive, namely, that they must dye, that in every mans body there is a never dying soul, that there will be a different and unchangeable estate of men after death, and that without holiness, real holiness of heart & life, no man shall see the Lord; and compare the lives and practises of those that pretend to beleive these things, & we may see them as busie Page 185 as a company of Ants in a sunny day; and that the general course of men, hath no tendency towards this end, but indeed a sad and woeful incongruity.
2. The second cause is want of spiritu∣al and divine wisdom. It was for want of that wisdom which is from above that the Israelites did not consider, O that they were wise! said God. They are a Nation void of counsel, neither is there any under∣standing in them, Deut. 32. 28. If men were wise for their precious and eternal souls, they would consider what is here to be done, and what is like to be their condition in the other world. The pru∣dent man fore-seeth the evil, or consi∣dereth the evil, and hideth himself. When God by the mouth of Moses, threatned to plague the Egyptians by the Pestilence, Haile, and Fire, he that beleived and fear∣ed the word of the Lord, amongst the servants of Pharoah, made his servants and cattel flee into the house, and were pre∣served, Exod. 9. 20. So the soul that is truly wise to consider of the danger of beingde∣stroyed by the grievous hail and fire of Gods wrath, will flee into the hiding place viz. under the wing of the great and glo∣rious Mediator, where alone there is true Page 186 succour. But he that did not fear or consider of the danger, left his servants and cattle in th• field, and were destroy∣ed, Exod. 9. 21, 25.
3. The third hindrance is sensuality, worldly pleasures, and cares, these carry away the heart from the true con∣sideration. The Israelites confluence of creature-comforts, caused them to for∣sake and to forget God, Deut. 32. 14. 15, 16, 17 18. The old world was eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in mar∣riage, not considering of their danger till the flood came and took them all away, Matth. 24. 38, 39. The men of the earth do so mind earthly things, that their hearts are surfeited and drunk∣en with the care of it, Luke 21. 34. And while mens minds and thoughts are carri'd so vehemently after the world to make provision for their life, they can think but little of their death, Luk 12. 15, 16, 17, 18.
4. The fourth obstruction, is a plague upon the heart, and desperate security proceeding from it. No bonds next to death are so strong to keep men under, as security and sensles∣ness of Spirit. So dead a sleep posses∣seth Page 187 more of the ungodly world, that they are past feeling, and become so stark dead, that the voice of God in the dreadful threatnings of his word, and the alarum of his amazing tremen∣dous judgement, and desolating provi∣dences prevail not to awaken them. The Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of a deep sleep, and hath (in judgement) closed their eyes that they can sin in the very face of the Judge, at the very brink of hell, at the very mouth and entrance into that great gulf of E∣ternity.
5. A fifth hindrance to mens conside∣ration of their latter end, is a strong de∣lusion of heart, or satanical suggestions. The old serpent, and desperatively de∣luded hearts, make them dream that God is all love, that they shall have a long life, that preparation for death and Eternity is a short work; and that it may be done at any time, name∣ly, when they have done with the world, when they are old, or lying on a sick bed. They say in their hearts, 'tis but beleiving or repenting, and saying, Lord have mercy upon me, let me die the death of the righteous. Under this Page 188 deadly delusion they dream of heaven, and go laughing to hell, 1 Thes. 5. 3.
And that which doth much encrease this stupidity, may be the want of, or neglect of a powerful and soul searching ministry, whose office, as watchmen, is to foresee the danger, and to warn and a∣waken secure sinners, crying aloud to them in the name of the Lord, Awake thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light, Ephes. 5. 14. But som cannot endure that Ministers should be so severe, plain and peircing in their Doctrin, so as to thunder and lighten in the eyes and ears of sleepy souls; They are well contented to sit under those that daub with untempered mortar, and who sow pillows for their arm holes, under whose ministry they may take a nap and sleep it out. But they hate him that re∣proveth in the Gate, that galls, cuts, and wounds their Consciences, just like the gall'd-backt horse, that bites and kicks at him that would heal him.
A person of no mean quality speaking his opinion of several ministers, said, such a man I can hear, and such a one I can hear very well, but for the third he Page 189 mentioned, that was wont to lay the ax to the root of the Tree, and grapple with the heart; I cannot endure to hear him, for he alwayes grates upon my con∣science.
6. Men do not consider their latter end, because they are afraid to do it,
1. First, to wanton sinners, the re∣membrance of death is a bitter Pill that will not suffer the pleasures of sin to go down so sweetly. Therefore they say to the thoughts of Death, as the Gover∣nour to Paul, Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will send for thee. Serious thoughts of death and Judgement to come, as the hand-writing on the wall, will damp the spi∣rits, and mar the mirth of the greatest Prince or gallant in the world.
2. They fear to think of death, be∣cause they have made no preparation for it, (viz) They have not belie∣ved, repented, liv'd a life of holiness, so as to make God their friend. A bankrupt that oweth many hundred pounds more then he is worth, is a∣fraid to cast up his Accompts; so poor and impenitent sinners, that are indebted to God, that owe him ten thousand Page 190 talents, are unwilling to think of death, because death will say unto them, come give an account of your Stewardship, for you must pay the utmost farthing.
3. They are afraid to think of death, by reason of the dreadful consequences of death, as it relates to both worlds. The change that death makes as to this pre∣sent world, is very amazing.
1. It brings unavoidable dissolution or separation of soul and body; these two dear companions, that have lived and converst together, and sin'd together for many years, must then part, and a living man will become a dead Carcase, fit for nothing but a grave, and the soul must have another habitation, Job 17. 13, 14. Job 19. 26. Well might Death be called the King of terrours.
2. It is matter of fear to leave this world that hath been so pleasing and de∣lightsom, and for which we have toyl'd and labour'd so many years, in one night to loose it all! For when the departing hour cometh, you may take a view of all your comforts which you have had under the Sun, and helps for Page 191 heaven, (viz.) Husbands, Wives, Parents, Children, Kinsfolk Friends jolly Com∣panions, Gold, Silver, Houses, Lands, sweet and delicate Banquets, pleasing Bargains, and say, we must now part, fare∣well for ever: We shall never see or en∣joy you more, we shall never eat, drink, or converse more, buy or sell more: all our fleshly and sensual delights are ended; our joy, our mirth is ceased, and all the blessed advantages for our salvation now will terminate. Farewel the means of grace, and all the golden opportunities for our souls, farewell all those faithful Mini∣sters that we have heard, farewel all those powerful awakening Sermons that have sounded in our ears, farewell all the blessed Sabbaths, farewell all the Coun∣sels, Examples, Reproofs, Prayers of our serious and religious friends and Relati∣ons, we shall never see the face of a Mini∣ster more, or hear a Sermon more, never have the door of grace and life opened to us any more for ever. And what remains, but a doleful remembrance of those good things that are past and gone, and a severe strict account that is yet behind?
O dreadful change and loss indeed to Page 192 them that make the world their home, that have their heaven on this side hea∣ven, and no provision or portion beyond the grave. The thoughts of which made a wicked young man (very thriving in the world) to utter these words, If I live I shall be a rich man, but this is the plague of it I must die; which accordingly came to pass not long after.
3, No wonder death is so terrible, for after death the judgement. Death is a Pur∣servant that summons guilty souls to com¦end give an account at Gods dreadful bar. And what more terrible to the Malesa∣ctorthen the sight and presence of an an∣gry Judge. While Paul reasoned of judg∣ment, Felix trembled, and bid him be gone; that Doctrine did so gall him that he could not endure it, Acts 24. 25.
Ʋse 2. The second use is to exhort, per∣swade, and stir you up, to put this duty of so great and infinite concernment into practice. O Sirs, I beseech you to entertain some timely thoughts of your dying hour, that death and you may be more fa∣miliar. The best friend you have in hea∣ven and earth longs to see it done, O that therewere such an heart in them: Now if Page 193 you would do any thing in this blessed work, (viz.) to prepare for death and judgement, it must be done, 1. Suddenly. 2. Seriously. 3. Effectually.
1. It must be done suddenly, its a busi∣ness of that importance that must not be neglected or delay'd for a moment of time Did you but see that you are upon the confines of eternity, and in danger every day of being undone for ever, you would quickly come to a resolution: To further and encourage you, consider,
1. Life (as dear and precious as it is) is very uncertain. What a nothing is this life? a wind, a vapour, a dream, a breath, a bubble.
How soon may the Thread be cut, the Glass run, or this bright burning Lamp be dim and out; when, how or where this short dying life will terminate thou dost not know? Whether at home or abroad, among they friends or strangers, in the field or house, at thy table or in thy Bed, who can tell?
2. Death may come suddenly. When the pase horse will set forth, whether in the morning, or at mid-day, or midnight, no man can tell thee. There is a fatal hour Page 194 which none can pass, Luk. 12. 20. Psal. 73. 18. 19. Psal. 64. 7. 1 Thes. 5. 3.
3. When death comes it strikes sure. This King of terrors on the pale horse al∣ways rides the circuit, and doth execution where-ever he cometh, no shield, or buck∣ler, or armour of proof can defend us, no not an army of guard of men or Angels. If dreadful death finds a King on, his Throne, or a beggar on the dunghil, it's all a case. The strength of man, though a Sampson, this great Leviathan Death counts but a straw; death doth his work speedily, easily, witness the last plague. I shall adde here.
1. Death, calls warnings and alarums are very frequent, not one of you, but have had many a call and knock to mind you of death.
2. Deaths commands are peremptory he brings his warrant a long with him. Death coms in the name of the terrible Judge, & takes his Commission out of the court of heaven in order to the accomplishment and execution of an eternal & irrevocable decree, so that he must doe his work, will have his Errand: If a man had Mines of Gold and Silver to give, it cannot deliver Page 195 from the arrest of this inexorable Serjeant.
3. Deaths Conquest is great. I know thou wilt bring me to death, and the place appointed for all living. What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Thou hast set his bounds that he cannot pass. They that have conquer'd Kingdoms and Countries, and carried all before them have been subjected by death: when death comes and takes a man by the throat, though the proudest, stoutest, strongest in the world, he must go, willing or unwil∣ling, 'tis all one to death. 'Tis observable, that of bad men, their souls are not re∣sign'd, but taken away. What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul, Job 27. 8, 20. A tempest stealeth him away in the night. This night shall thy soul be requi∣red, death will not stay a night. Tis in vain for them that are strong and lively, to say to death, go to the wrinkled faces, to the gray heads to the pile cheeks, to the na∣ked backs, the dry bons, to the dry breasts, meddle not with this young man, strike not this comely beautiful woman, that is in the flower and prime in nature. Go to yonder consumptive, declining decaying, Page 196 dying old man, go to that weak wither'd old woman. Let me alone or be excus'd: O but death regards it not. For this great Conquerour death, knocks as often at the young mans door, as at the door of the old woman. Death arrests and carrieth away the strong, the healthy, the rich, the ho∣nourable, the learned, prisoners to the grave, as often as the weak the sickly, the poor, the base and ignorant.
2 You are to do it seriously, with thy soul: The living will lay it to heart, Eccl. 7. 2. The dead cannot, there's no device in the grave; Then go about it now in good earnest, before old age and death cometh.
3. Do it effectually, go thorow with the work, leave it not undone, or but done to halves; let every lust be mortified, every duty performed, every grace exercis'd. As good never a whit, as never the near. Now you have opportunity before you, the day of grace is continued, Christ is at the door, open to him, and make all sure; for if ever thou be justified, pardoned, sancti∣fied, it must be now. The considerations to perswade you are these following.
Page 197Motive 1. Consider there's an absolute and indispensible necessity for the doing of it, a present necessity, an infinite and e∣ternal necessity, other things may be done this must be done, and its more then time this great work were done and finished 'Tis the grand business of your life timely and truly to prepare for death and judg∣ment. It were better that all your con∣cerns in the world were wholly neglect∣ed namely, Husband, wife, Children, buy∣ing, selling, seed-time, harvest omitted, & let all run to ruine, then to hazard, lose and undo your souls, for this will certain∣ly ruine body and soul for ever.
O seriously mind how little you have done in the time of your life past, and how uncapable you will be to do any thing at the end of time, when you come to take up your lodging in a grave. O remember the dayes of darkness, they will be many, Eccl. 1. 18. They that have been in the Grave a thousand years have done no∣thing, neither can you when you come there, Eccl. Now for you that have lived Page 198 some twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or three∣score years, and done nothing in order to a preparation for your everlasting state, it is high time to begin the work.
The most of you are so sensless, as not to consider, or entertain a thought of death, till you hear the Bell, or see a Grave or Coffin or till death comes within your walls and knocks at your beds head; when you see a Friend, a Child, a brother, a Husband or Wife, gasping and dying, till you see him bedewed with his cold sweats, and groaning with dying pangs; till your eyes thus affect your hearts, your hearts are seldom affected with the sence of your mortality: Now sith it must be done and done suddenly, resolve in spight of men and devils, and all the world to set about the work.
Motive 2. Consid. It may be done, you are in a capacity to do it adored for ever be free grace.
1. Time and opportunity is yet before you. The Torch burns, the Sun shines, yet it is day, though not morning, some sands Page 991 are behind, though not a whole glass. Some of you are old, lame, deaf, but not dead; others weak, sick, langishing, but alive: If the Sun were set, the Candle out; the Glass run, farewell all hope of heaven, or of altering your condition for ever. They that are gone down to the dead and among the damned, may and do reflect with torment upon the opportu∣nitiesonce offered to make them happy, but can call back none: that's impossi∣ble.
2. God is willing to help if you go to him; Thine is the power, and he gives it to them that have no strength, Isa. 40. Duty is ours, assistance and success is Gods. That God who hath given you a considering season, can also give a considering soul; go to him upon thy knees, and beg as for thy life his a speedy aid, say as the woman to David, Help O King, or as the Father for the distressed Son, Mark 9. 22. If thou cansts do any thing, help us; Christ did help; 'tis his promise, seek and you shall find. But it cannot be said so of separated souls, because time and meanes from them is gone for ever.
Page 200 Then in the name of the Lord, quit your selves like men, Wisemen, that are endued with precious, rational, consider∣ing souls, that difference you from bruits. Let that noble faculty of reason be exert∣ed in considering your latter end. For consideration is a serious, eager, & lively act or exercise of the understanding a∣bout things to be done, or not to be done, furthering or impeding the execution of them as it sees good. It is the exercise of the mind and heart, these are at work in this divine consideration. Contemplatio• (as one observes) looks upon things as the eye upon the object. Judicium dis∣cerneth things whether good or bad; but meditation or consideration is a further inquisition into the truth. Set considera∣tion at work, and not like bruits, suffer your eyes, ears, lusts and senses to be your guides, but commune with your heares, consider your wayes, reflect upon your actions, look to your end; which if you did, you would not be so sensual, so sinful, as you have been and are, Isa. 1. 3.
Page 201Motive 3. Consider the omitting or neglect of it, will render you the worst of fools. If the doing of it be your highest wisdom, the not doing must needs be the greatest folly; this will make you like Ephraim, a silly Dove without an heart. Do you know that you must die, and die but once? and will you not indeavour to do that well which cannot be done the second time? As Luther said to his adver∣saries, You can kill me but once, ye are not able to raise me to life again, and kill me the second time: So say I to thee, O thou se∣euer, sinner when thy breath is gone, it will return no more.
O consider with a trembling heart, how much depends upon this dying once, namely the gaining or losing of thy dear precious soul, the gainingor loosing of the favour of God, the fruition of God, the joyes of heaven, or the torments of hell hangs upon it.
When death comes, your eternity is cast, the very next moment after you have shot the black & a mazing gulf, you shall Page 202 see & know what you shall be, and where you shall be to all eternity. And will you judg the men of the earth, or worldly wise men, the wisest men, who take care for the body, and neglect the soul? that make provision for time, but none for eter∣nity? O Sirs, if you would but trace them to a sick bed, a death-bed, from thence in∣to eternity, and to Gods dreadful tribu∣nal, you might easily determine, Ier. 17. 11 Luke 12. 19, 20. Luke 16. 22, 23. Rev. 6. 25.
Mot. 4. In a every little time you present, powerful and awakening helps and advan∣tages, to excite and put you in mind of the other world; will be past and gone. And these are cheifly three, viz. 1. Awakening Or∣dinances. 2. Awakening Providences. 3. Awakening Convictions.
1 Awakening Ordinances will have an end. The faithful, powerful Ministers of the Gospel that watch for your souls, and whose office it is to fire the Beacons, and give the alarum, will, we know not how soon, finish their work. These Boauergeses and Embassadours of the Lord, that Page 203 preach the dreadful and amazing Do∣ctrine of death and judgement, and that with loud and earnest cries, tears and fer∣vour of spirit, to make you sensible of your sin and danger, will shortly be called home. Moses that great Prophet, after he had compos'd this excellent Song (of which my Text is a part) was gathered to his Fathers. Noah that Preacher of Righteousness, after he had for many years together warned the old world, was called into the Ark and they had never a Sermon more, till the wrath of God came upon them, and there was no remedy; 2 Pet. 2. 5. Be not therefore as your Fa∣thers, unto whom the former Prophers, have cryed. saying, Turn ye from your evil wayes, for they have not long to cry: The Prophets do not live for ever, Zech. 1. 4, 5. You cannot rationally expect alwayes to hear the pleasant noise of Aarons Bells, or the sound of the Silver Trumpet, the Sun will go down over the Prophets; There∣fore while the watchmen are upon the walls take warning, and finish your work while you have the light: O Sirs, improve for your eternal advantage those plain and powerful Sermons which you hear Page 204 and read, and let it not be accounted le∣gal preaching. Who were more severe in their preaching then our Lord and his fore-runner? whom we ought to imi∣tate, otherwise we draw the horrible sin of bloud-guiltiness upon our souls; Ezek. 3. 18, 9. 'Tis observ'd, that there are more dreadful doctrines scatter'd up and down in the New Testament then in the Old, the powerful application of which is very necessary both for secure sinners and drowsie Saints, Holy David, after his fall, fell into a deep sleep and did not a∣wake until Nathan came and told him plainly and particularlly of his sin. And of the Virgins we read, while the Bride∣groom tarri'd they all slumbred: and slept, Mat. 25. O how many sleepy souls are there in the world, and in many Cities, Towns and Parishes in this Nation that will either living, dying or after death, sadly bewail the not improving the la∣bours of their faithful Pastors.
2. All your awakening Providences, by which God warns and calls, will have an end. The great and glorious God for a long time together hath been speaking and calling to us by his Word, and of late Page 205 year she hath spoken by his dreadful Rod, and that very terribly. The Sword, the Plague, the Fire, the decay of trade and other Judgements, are the loud voice of an angry God. Those afflictions on our Fa∣milies, Relations, Estates, Persons, are in order to awakening us out of sleep, and so for our profit. When Manassch was a∣mong the thorns, & bound with fetters, & carried into Babylon, he be sought the Lord and humbled himself greatly, 2 Chron. 33. 11, 12, 13. After Ephraim was chastised, he awaked, turned and repented, for the bonds and cords of affliction do open the car to instruction; then he sheweth them their work, and their transgression, and commandeth that they turn from ini∣quity, Jab 6. 9, 10. Jer. 13, 18, 19. Now to have a deaf ear to the rod and word, to be hardned and secure, and go on in sin under awaking and amazing providen∣ces, is a dreadful judgement, & that which ripens men for ruine, 2 Chron. 28. 22. This is that King Ahaz, who in the time of his distress did trespass yet more against the Lord, Jer. 5. 3.
3. Your awakening Convictions will have an end too. Those secret and power∣ful Page 206 workings, strivings and struglings of the Spirit of God under the rod and in the word will be suspended. Christ will not always be at the door calling, knock∣ing, and his Spirit that is so much greived and oppos'd, will not alwayes strive and struggle with your hearts and conciences, Gen. 6. 3. Now sinners, if you have any love or regard to your immortal souls, before all these helps be taken away, be wise to consider, and prepare for your end: Lest God should speedily resolve, and say to you as to the Jews, Isa. 1. 5. Why should ye be striken any more; or as Hosea: 4. 17. Ephraim is joyned to Idels, let him alone. They will have their lusts, and they shall have them: As I live, saith saith the Lord this iniquity shall not be purged till youdie: Sith nothing will prevail, I am resolved, saith God, they shall never hear an awakening soul-Searching Sermon more, never have a Correction or Conviction more till they go down to hell.
Motive 5. Consider that the earnest cries tear, prayers of unbeleivers, when they comes Page 207 to die, it will be in vain, fruitless and unsuc∣cesful: though you speak in the anguish of your souls, and complain in the bitter¦ness of your spirits; when your flesh up∣on you shall have pain, and your souls within you shall mourn, it will be to no purpose.
You that will not seek God betimes, and make supplication to the Almighty, that will not pray while you have time to pray, helps to pray, health to pray, en∣couragements to pray.
Now God invites, you may have audi∣ence, and find acceptance; your prayers in a dying hour, will be but the expressions of your fears and terrors, arising from the sence and nearness of your danger, when there will be but a step between your de∣parting souls and the state of Devils. God seldom hears from some men unless trou∣ble, sickness, fear, distress and anguish com¦eth upon them; then pain will make them pray and how upon their beds; and 'tis but howling, not Praying, Hos. 7. 14. But will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? saith Job 27. 9. No, saith the Lord, I will not be enquired of by you, Ezek. 20. 3. Because it cometh from an Page 208 evil mind, or stinking breath, proceeding from a corrupt, rotten, cursed heart, and then it must needs be abominable, Prov. 21. 27, 15. 8. I will (saith David) wash mine hands in innocency, and then com∣pass thine Altar; for if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer, Psal. 66. 18. If God would not hear a Davids prayer, a man after Gods own heart, he will not hear a Devils prayer, nor the prayer of a Swearer, Sabbath-breaker, Drunkard; he heareth not sin∣ners that like and love their lusts. No, saith the holy God, though they seek me early, they shall not find me. Here note, That there is a two fold early, namely, Gods early, and mans early. Gods early is in the morning of our life, in the time of youth, then God cals and invites to come, Prov. 1. 24. Eccl. 12. 1. Mans early is in the evening, or at the end of life, or when man is high unto death, when pain, sorrow and anguish cometh upon him. In their affli∣ctions they will seek me early, Hos. 5. last When fear cometh as desolation, and de∣struction cometh as a whirlwind, then shall they call upon me, but I will not an∣swer, they shall seek me early but shal not Page 209 find me, Prov. 1. 27, 28. God will say to all such sinners, remember it, as Isaac to Abi∣melech, Gen. 26. 27. Wherefore come ye to me seeing you hate me, and have sent me a∣way from you: Or he will say, as once to the Children of Israel, that cryed to him in their sore distress; Go cry to the Gods which ye have chosen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation; as for me, I will not deliver you, Judg. 10. 14. You have served the Devil, embrac'd the world, sa∣tisfied your lusts, joyn'd with mine ene∣mies, go to the Devil, go to your lusts, to your wicked company, let them deliver, you in your distress: Now death and de∣vilsare come for you, I will not own you, nor your prayers, your soul abhorred me & my soul abhors you, and your prayers, depart from me, I know you not.
Motive 6. Its the great comfort of the godly mans life to hope, and know that he is fit for death. Whatever be their lot and Portion in this world, be assured it shall go well with them in the other world. Art thou in astate of grace, at odds with Page 210 fin, and truly in love with Christ and ho∣liness? Be of good chear, go thy way, and eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for the bitter∣ness of death is past. The king of terrors that had the power of death is conquer∣ed by the Lord of life. Terrible death that rides on the pale horse, is dismounted by thy dear Lord that rides on the white horse, under whose bloody Cross thou mayest see him disarmed, wounded and dead; death that raigned from Adam to Moses, is now swallowed up in victory, Isa. 25. 8. I will ransoms thee from the power of the grave, I will redeem thee from death; O death I will be thy plagues. O grave I will be thy destruction. The beleiving soul is dead with Christ while he lives, Rom. 6. 8, and is delivered, not only from the damnation of sin, but the dominion of sin, and there is hope in his death: When he dyeth he shall die in the Lord, Rev. 14. 13. he shall sleep in Jesus, 1 Thes. 4. 14. his end shall be peace, Psal. 37. 37. This made the Apostle after his sad conflict Rom. 7. to triumph over the last enemy death, 1 Cor. 15. 55.
Page 112Motive 7. If you should not prepare for death yet you will wish you had (as many do when it is to late.) You that are for ma∣king provision for the flesh, and so eager∣ly pursuing the world. When you shall be cast upon the bad of languishing, you will wish in the very torment of your minds and flames of horrour, that I had parted with my sin: O that I had been careful to please and honour God, and to get an interest in Jesus Christ! then should I have now dyed the death of the righ∣teous; but this I wholly slighted. I prose∣cuted the world with might and main, and got so many thousands for my Poste∣rity & I liv'd a merry and jovial life, but for my soul, for my eternity, things of in∣finite worth, I have done nothing, I for∣gat my soul. Now here's the Messenger of death come for me, to imprison my body in the Grave, the Chambers of darkness, and to carry my soul I know not whither, I fear to hell: O that I had been wise to un∣der stand this, to consider my latter end! What would I now give to live but a few years more, to make provision for this soul, that Page 213 must now enter the gulf of endless eter∣nity.
Motive 8. Consider the gaines will be ex∣ceeding great: As will appear by these fol∣lowing particulars.
Would you haue sin as hell, and be more truly holy, Consider your latter end. This is most certain that all the evil an∣tecedents, and dreadful consequences of death, spring and grow out of this bitter root; what is it that wounds, stings, paines and kills? what is it that brings Diseases & threatens death? that murders the bo∣dy, and that damns and burnes the soul? What is that doth necessitate the to make use of Physick & Physicians whilst alive? and bringeth thee to a Coffin and Grave when thou art dead? is it not sin which thou embracest in thy bosom?
You poor, blind, deluded souls, as little and as lovely as sin looks in your wanton eyes, it is the Mother and Nurse of all your miseries, hacht in hell, the Devils spawn or excrement. He that committeth sin is of the devil, 1 Joh. 3. 8. This is that Page 312 evil thing and bitter that hales death and hell at the heels of it, yea, that arms death, devils and hell against us. Were it not for this black, ugly, fierce, ouer and bloudy adversary, Law or Justice could not condemn us, Death could not kill us, Devils could not torment us, Hell could not burn us.
Sin is the Traitor and Murderer of your immortal souls, and those nails that will shortly dig your Graves: & will you hug, hide and hold it fast? Will a woman put that knife into her bosom, that hath kill'd or murder'd her dear Child or Husband? no by no means, it must be broken and cast away for ever. Now Sirs, if sin be the ene∣my, use it as an enemy or murderer, kill it, take the sacrificing knife and cut the throat of it, or strike the heart vein, and let it bleed until it dies. Deal by it as Samuel by Agag, cut it in pieces. Did you think se∣riously of death and hell, you would hate it to purpose, and say, away to hell with it, from whence it came; and it would put you upon a desire and earnest endeavour after holiness: Being expos'd to a disso∣lution, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godli∣ness, Page 214 2 Pet. 3. 11. But if you forget death, you will make dreadful work; namely, your accounts greater, and hell the hotter; you will increase your sin, and God will heap up wrath against the day of wrath. And if ever God sh•w mercy it will cost you dear, your souls must mourn, your hearts must break and bleed for sin; for unless you repent, you will certainly be damned, Luk. 13. 5.
2. Would you speedily call off your hearts from the world, & lay up treasure in heaven, Remember your latter end: In the greatest affluence of worldly prosperi∣ty alwayes consider that you must die.
Poor worldlings! that make gold your hope, whose plottings and ploddings are for earth. If death and eternity were more in your thoughts, you would let go that in your affections which you cannot hold in your possession, and love that but a little that will be lost, and which you cannot love long; Riches have wings, and they will be gone. Con∣sider how little the things of the world will stand you in stead in the evil day: your gold and silver cannot keep you from diseases while you live, nor from Page 512 hell after you are dead, Prov 11. 4. Psal. 49. 6, 7.
It falleth out with many of the great storers of this world, as it doth with a Sumpter Horse, who all the day carri∣eth a great treasure on his back, but at night it is taken from him, and he thrust into a foul Stable. So many wealthy worldlings that tire them selves to get and carry worldly treasure, when death cometh, its taken, from them and they for their ill getting or ill using of it, are thrust down to hell: the rich man dy∣ed, and in hell lift up his eyes.
And if you would deaden your hearts to this empty earth, and look after a treasure above, a happiness beyond the grave, that shall last as long as your souls shall last; think often of death, this would divert your worldly cares and projects.
Remember from this day to your last day cannot be long, your Journey or Voyage is short, and a little Provision is enough; neither Poverty nor Riches, but food convenient, is the desire and choice of a Citizen of Sion. Converse more with death, and be often looking Page 412 into eternity, and thou mayest here (as it were) a voice speaking to thee, as God to Baruch, Jer. 45. 4, 5. I will break down, and pluck up, and seekest thou great things, seek them not. Death is the great Leveller that will make all equal, and you that grasp the world most greedily, will find it but vanity, for all is vanity, is the language of experience, Eccl. 1. 2. 1 John 2. 17.
When Samuel was to anoint Saul, he brought or directed him to Rachels Se∣pulcher, and to this end (as is suppos'd) namely, to suppress or prevent haughty, proud thoughts that might arise from that new and great preferment. And if the supposition be true, it is as if he had spoken thus. Saul, God hath highly ho∣noured you, and I annoint you King: But remember, here lies the dust of that beau∣tiful Rachel, and though you are, now King in Israel, yet you must be as Rachel, viz. laid in a Grave or Sepulcher, the thoughts of which is a very mortifying Meditation. You that have the waters of a full Cup, that wallow in wealth, and swim in worldly glory, to wean you from the world (that your hearts may Page 712 not be turned into Earth, and buryed before you are buryed) keep fresh in your thoughts death and eternity, Job 14. 14.
3. Would you be deeply sensible of the sad and doleful condition of unbe∣leivers when they come to dye? think se∣riously of your latter end. What will you do in the hour of distress, when God shall call for your breath, change your countenance, and require your souls, if you have made no preparation for death and Judgement?
Poor souls! I would pity you with my very heart, to think how ignorant you are of your great concernment; you eat, drink, sleep, buy, sell, and get gain; but slight your souls, and do not consider of the evil day.
We be unto him that is alone, that is alone in life, and alone in death, that hath no Christ to befriend him, or stand by him in that woeful day, that cometh to lye down in the death-bed without peace or pardon, who shall go into a Grave, and stand before the Ba without an Advocate to plead for him.
It is most probable, you may have dife Page 218 ferent apprehensions of yout selves and others in your dying hour; so the nearer the object, the clearer the sight; O sin∣ners! when the door of eternity begins to open (as usually it doth to men dying) you will have other thoughts of your selves, and other men. Here you ruffle it out, thinking your selves above, and better then others; behold great Babel, said that proud person in his Princely Pa∣lace; but when pale death appears, it will pull down those Peacocks feathers, and cause their crests to fall. Now the world shines and sparkles in your eyes, which makes you judge and think that nothing but Riches, Honor, and Greatness can make you happy, then it wil appear (the pant being off) to be an empty nothing. As for the pure •n heart, who mourn for sin, and mind itheir soules above the world, who are scorn'd, jeer'd hated, being look'd upon as a company of poor, pensive, sneak∣ing, besotted fools, will then be ad∣judged the best, wisest, and happiest men on earth. Now sin is excused, and called a light and little thing, for trick of youth, but then it will have at Page 219 black and dreadful face and feel more heavy then lead, taste more bitter then death it self.
Now the Damned and cursed Crue, are your brave Boon companions, and bosom friends? but when you are come to your dying groanes, and cold sweats, away with them, their sight is terri∣ble: But know, that you who have been companions in sin, must be compa∣nions in sufferings, and lye down toge∣ther in everlasting chaines and flames; you shall be fettered and bound toge∣ther and never part any more for e∣ver.
Now an interest in Christ, and a life of holiness is little valued, and eve∣ry lust and triffle preferred, then a world, a world for a Christ; forty thou∣sand pound for a good Conscience, cryed out a wicked wealthy worldling, when dying and passing into eternity.
4. Would you expedite your Repen∣tance, try your state, and make all ready for the other world; think upon this last enemy, the King of terrors, that will ere long terminate your dayes, and then all your opportunities will be gone for e∣
Page 220 If the thoughts of death, especially the second death, did but influence your hearts, and penitrate npon your Con∣sciences, you would easily be perswaded to cast away your sins: namely, to cut off a right hand, or pluck out a right eye, and to rent your hearts to mourn in secret, to afflict your souls and to put your mouths in the dust if so be there may be hope, Lam. 3. 28. 29. We see that men in a journey if they think they have daly enough, they are slack and slow enough; but if they see but a little time, they will make speed. If a man must do the work of a whole day in half a day he will make hast: Repentance is not a work for a day, though a daly work, our whole life is little enough to com∣pleat and perfect it. As long as we sin, we must mourn, while we pro∣voke the Judge; we must plead guilty and sue our out pardon with Ropes a bout our necks, and smiting on our breasts (and if it might be) with tears of blood. And the great things of death and Judment will prepare and prompt you to do it suddenly; for when the Page 221 day is gone, the night comes, and the Grave and Hell have shut their mouths upon you, what can be done? Eccles. 9. 10.
5. Would you pray more frequently? more fervently then ever you have done, remember you must dye.
The Monuments and Statues of the dead (as one notes) are made in a pray∣ing posture, viz. kneeling, and with hands lifted up to heaven (as if the re∣membrance of them now dead) should teach us our duty, what we must do whilst living. One that was wont to pray often in a day, being asked why he spent so much time in prayer, gave no other answer, but this, I must dye, I must dye, An awakening apprehension of a mans entrance upon an endless state, and a speedy approach before the holy God, will make him pray, and that importunately. If there be in the Family a Husband, wife, or Child near unto death, almost every one that cometh about the bed will be lifting up hands, and putting up of prayers, and then you cry out, send speedily for some sober, serious Minister, or for some Page 222 solid, savoury, praying Christian, to commend his sad case to God; The young man that lately suffered for Murder, who came into Newgate as ignorant of God, as the horse or the Mule, and as sensless of his soul as a stock or a stone, was by the acxcess and application of Mi∣nisters to him, convinced of his despe∣rate case, and through the grace and blessing of God upon his appointed means he seemed so deeply sensible of the dreadful hazzard of his precious soul, that he did with so much brokeness of heart confess his sins, pray, and plead with God in Christ for pardon, even to the wonder and amazement of those Ministers and Christians who where pre∣sent. And he being asked how often he prayed, answered five or six times a day, and it was with such meltings, and multitudes of teares, that did move the very bowels of the Auditors (and as they said) turned them into tears. Thus you see how a powerful conviction of death and judgement may prevail up∣on the heart, to make them cry to God, that never prayed before. As for you that can lye down at night, rise up in Page 223 the morning and go about the world without secret or family prayer: I must tell you that you have but slight, if any thoughts of death and eternity and no sence of, or regard of your everlast∣ing condition, which is a sad symptom of a Christless state.
6. Would you do good to others, to their bodies and to their souls, consider you must dye, for after death you will be utterly incapacitated of doing any thing. The wise man speaking of the season of doing, and of the vicissitudes of mans life, namely, that there is a time to be born, and a time to dye: and he having observed the issues and chang∣es of providence that hath made every thing beautiful in its season, concludes that it is best for a man to do good in his life, Eccles. 3. 12. As we have there∣fore opportunity (saith the Apostle) let us do good to all men, Gal. 6. 10. When it is in the power of thine hand to to do it, Prov. 3. 27. Sirs, the real thoughts of death will prompt you to give a portion to six and also to seven, and that in sea∣son; for when death comes, all is gone, Page 224 then its no more in power of thine hand to do.
Did you now beleive and consider, that you must dye, and give an account to God, the great Landlord and Donor of all your good things (great Re∣ciepts, having great accounts) you would not contract your hearts, and shut up your bowels against those ma∣ny miserable objects, who are so often in your view.
Now, that you may be like sheep, and not like swine, be good in your life; and let your acts of mercy be distributed in the morning, the fittest season to sow this seed; therefore speedily draw out thy soul to the hungry, before death separate thy soul and body, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased, Isa. 58. 10. Heb. 13. 14.
7. Would you get and keep sincerity (a precious Pearl indeed) think often of death and judgement. Then it will be try∣ed, then it will stand you in stead. Sinceri∣ty (the Scripture persection) is the best of a Christian, the grace of every grace, for faith unfeigned, and love in sincerity, are the very nerves & sinews of Christianity,
The next best to the precious blood and Page 225 righteous of our glorified Redeemer, (to plead for us at the hour of death, and in the Court of Heaven) is truth in the in ward parts, Isa. 38. 3. To be a mourner in Sion is matter of solace, and real com∣fort, but to be a sinner in Sion is sad, and it will be a matter of torment. A Ju∣das among the Apostles, a Devil in Sa∣muel's Mantle, is a Devil indeed. The sinners in Sion are afraid, and cause e∣nough; for to live and dye a hypocrite is most dreadful, because hypocrisie will certainly bring you down to hell; yea, the hottest place of that devouring fire, and everlasting burning, shall be the Hy∣pocrites portion, Isa. 33. 14. Mat. 24. 5.
8. Lastly, would you redeem your time, and be greedy of getting grace in the day of grace, for the present, spiritu∣al, and eternal salvation of your souls; think seriously of your end.
You sleepy secure souls! did you con∣sider that the night of death will come certainly, and may come suddenly, you would work while it is day, and not be so mad as to put off beleiving, repent∣ing and soul afflicting-work, self-trying Page 226 and approving work, until the evil day of old age, a sick bed, or dying pangs seize upon you. Consider, a death-bed re∣pentance is seldom had, and seldom good, or a sick-bed repentance is seldom a sound, but often a sick repentance. Now if you would imitate your Lord, to work while it is day, remember you must dye, John 9. 4.
Directions and helps to consider of your latter end.
Direct. 1. Search diligently to find out what it is that keeps you, and the serious thoughts of death and eternity, at so great a distance, and cry mightily to God and speedily to remove it: If it be either Ignorance, A∣theisme, Unbeleif, Sensuality, Earthly∣mindedness, or Security, be deeply sen∣sible of it, and set Prayer to work, pour out thy very soul to God with greatest fervour and importunity. Say as Me∣ses, Who knoweth the power of thine an∣ger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath: So teach us to number our dayes that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom, Psa. Page 227 96. 11, 12. Sirs, 'tis spiritual wisdom will cause you to consider; then cry after knowledg, and lift up thy voice for un∣derstanding, Prov. 2. 3, 4. For she is thy life, Prov. 4. 13, its as much as thy life and soul is worth. Then enter into thy Clo∣set, and fall down upon thy knees, and pray to God in the name of Christ for spiritual wisdome: we must seek it. Ezek, 36. 37. And god will give it, James 1. 5. Beg more then for thy life, for a truly wise and awakened heart, withou which the great concerns of God, and thine Immortal soul be for ever neglected.
Direct. 2. Diligently and faithfully use and improve the most awakening means which have a tendency hereunto.
1. Set your selves under a powerful, faith∣ful and soul-searching Ministry, who make the conversion of souls their main business: A lazy sleepy minister is nor like to waken a secure sinner, the convi∣ction and conversion of souls is, not the mark they shoot at. Resolve to hear, Page 228 have countenance, and encourage those that grapple most with the conscience, and earnestly endeavour to drive and draw soules to Jesus Christ, by setting the blessing and the curse, life and death before them. Conviction leads the way to conversion, as the needle to the thread: what's a plaist•r worth, where there is no wound? 'tis the broken bones cry out for help, the whole need not the Physitian: General, overly preach∣ing, is like the sword in the scabbard, that doth not cut or wound, or like Physick in the bottel that doth not pene∣trate or work; but plain, particular, con∣vincing preaching (such as Nathans to David, or Peters to the Jews 2 Sam. 12. 7. Acts 2. 36.) is like the sword in the bowels, or Physick in the body that will pain to purpose. Those Preachers that have no faculty of reproving, and con∣vincing sleepy secure sinners, are like a company of drone Bees, that have lost their sting, being good for nothing. But they that have the charge of so many Golden Fleeces should sever the Wheat from the Chaff, the Sheep from the Goats, the precious from Page 229 the vile and in so doing we shall be as God's mouth, and free from the blood of all men.
O then, let this dreadful and amazing Doctrine of death and judgement, be more frequently and effectually preach∣ed, that souls in peril, near run, may see their sin and danger, and flye to Christ as the only refuge; knowing the terrour of God we perswade men, 2 Cor. 5. 11. Mat. 3, 7.
2. Converse with the best Christians, viz. them that are grave, sober, solid, sa∣voury and sound in faith: Such as make Religion their great business, who love to speak of God, and of the world to come, and by whose counsel and example you may be stir'd up, and per∣swaded to repentance and holiness, to consider of death and judgement, These were Davids excellent ones in whom he did delight, and made his compani∣ons, Psal. 16. 3 119. 63.
3. Read the best Books, and those that treat of death and judgement, but especially the word of God. There are the pure, Chrystal streams and richest Mines; in this field you will find the Page 230 Pearl. Let the word of God dwell in you richly, be not ignorant of any part of it, but be sure to accquaint thy self with those Scriptures that speak of the short∣ness of life, the certainty of death and judgement, heaven and hell: Read the Book of Job, and the twelfth Chapter of Ecclesiastes, Psal: 39. Psal. 90. And let me desire you to be often urging upon your hearts some of those Scriptures that set forth the dreadfulness of that place of torment, that will be the portion of all that forget God, and make no provision for their precious souls: Some few I have here set down, which I desire you would all consider, and apply. Ʋpon the wicked he shall rain fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, this shall be the portion of their Cup, Psal. 11. 6. We be unto the wicked, it shall go ill with them, Isa. 3. 10. He shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matth. 13 42. Isa. 33. 14. 66. 15. Matth. 25. 41. Luk. 16. 25, 26. 2 Thes. 1. 8, 9. Rev. 6. 8, 16, 17.
Page 231Direct. 3. Make conscience of setting apart a little time every day on pur∣pose to think of your latter end. Do it so frequently, until death and you become familar; ever and anon put thy self into a posture of dying, converse with thy winding sheet, Coffin, Grave, let thy great change be so upon thy heart, that thou may'st every morning or evening walk a turn or two with death: Remember, however it be with thee now, thou mustere long be gasping and groaning for breath upon thy dy∣ing bed, and grapple with the King of terrours, and in a moment go down to the Grave, and shall come up no more, Job 10. 21.
If thou shouldst affect thy heart with thoughts of thy latter end, go down to Golgotha, and think upon those dry bones, & putrified bodies, and there revive Page 232 the memory of your departed Relations Husbands, Wives, Children, Friends, Neighbours, and look beyond the Cham∣bers of the Grave, converse with those miserable departed souls, give the priso∣ners of the pit a visit. Meditate on the ra∣ging furious flames, that dismal darkness, smoak and stink of the botomless pit, the screeking of the damn'd and roaring of the devils, the heart piercing com∣plaints for water to cool their scorching tongues. And when thou dost think upon those millions of souls that are hanging up in hell, reflect upon thy sels; and expect thy turn speedily. Suppose every day thy last, every meal thy last, every journey thy last, every duty, Sacrament, Sermon, thy last. And when the Lords day com∣eth, think with thy self this will be the last spiritual market, that I shall have to buy the spiritual Oyl of grace and to provide for the Bridegrooms co∣ming; after this day is ended, I may ne∣ver more hear the Lord Jesus speak to me by the mouths of his faithful Mini∣sters, never be invited to come to Christ, or to beleive, repent, part with sin, and ac∣cept of a pardon more, and so demean Page 233 thy self every day, and in every duty, as if thou should'st be called to Gods Bar, and give up thine account at night. In all thy thoughts, words and actions, say to thy self, would I do thus, and thus, viz. would I eat, drink, sleep, converse, buy, sell, preach, hear, pray; or worse, if I cer∣tainly knew this day would be my last. O let that Motto, Memento mori, which some carry in their Rings, be engraven on your hearts, it being the great concern∣ment of our lives. This is that which God people, and some of the heathen too, have been careful to remember: King Asia made his Sepulcher in his life time, 2 Cron. 16. 14. and some in their Gardens, and places of solace and de∣light, as Joseph of Arimathea, John 19. 41. And some of the Heathen were wont to walk among the Graves, to put them in mind of death; some have had their Graves alwayes before their Gates, other a dead mans skul presented every day at their Tables; and shall we that beleive the doctrine of the other world, put off the serious thoughts of death? Solomon adviseth us to go to the house of mourn∣ing, telling us it is better because the Page 234 living will lay it to heart. When you hear the tidings of the death of your Friends, relations, or Neighbours, go thither, though not personally, yet con∣templatively, in your minds & thoughts, go, and put your selves in their stead. And think thus, a living man or wo∣man is become a dead Corps, or cold clay, the soul is gone to its everlasting habitation; but to what place whether to be comforted or tormented, who can tell? If he were a godly man, he is cer∣tainly gone to heaven, if thou art such a one, thy soul will shortly be with him: but if an ungodly man he is certainly gone to hell, and now among the Devils: and if thou art such a one, thou shalt erelong be there too. 'Tis true the dead can have no thoughts of the living: but the living (saith Solomon) know that they must die. And you that are young, when you hear of the death of a lively lusty young man, or alovely beautiful young woman, stop, reflect, and con∣sider, may not this be thy case O man, woman, or child, in a very little space. I shall say no more by way of direction, only desire you to review the particu∣lars Page 234 before mentioned; and you that are Parents and Masters of Families, who make conscience of looking to the souls of those committed to your charge, may cause your Children and Servants to learn by heart the particulars I here set down.
- 1. That it is most certain an end will be.
- 2. At our latter end all things in this world will be gone for ever.
- 3. All the pleasures of sin will be gone, and leave nothing but a sting.
- 4. That only which is eternal wil stand us instead.
- 5. Consider which of the two eternities are you going towards.
- 6. We are all near our everlasting habita∣tion.
- 7. You know not how suddenly, or unex∣pected your end may be.
- 8. When death comes, your souls are stated, your eternity is cast.
- 9. 'Tis a dreadful and amazing fight, to see a Christless soul breathing out his last.
Page 932 4. Ʋse May be of comfort to the poor people of God, who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage. Let not you hearts be trobn∣led, fear not, neither be terrified because of this King of fears: But cheer up your spirits, and comfort up your hearts with this, that death as terrible as it is to the wicked, cannot hurt you. The day of your death will be better then the day of your birth, and thereffore death is put into the Beleivers Inventory, and recko∣ned amongst his priviledges, 1 Gor. 3. 22. Death will be gain to the Godly man, viz. an out-let to all his present misery, and an in-let to endless glory, Then the true∣ly penitent, perplexed wearied soul shall be perfectly free from the power of Sa∣tan the firy darts, and dreadful temp∣tations of that unclean spirit. Then the old Serpent for ever will be under their feet. Then the body of death shall be put off, and the in dwelling of sin, that natural fountain of corruption will be perfectly dryed up. You shall never Page 732 complain of vain thoughts, or hard hearts any more: Never doubt of the truth of grace or favour of God more; The beleiver shall then be with Jesus Christ; the day of his dissolution will be the day of his Coronation, he shall then receive the Crown, and sit down on the Throne, and enter into his Masters joy, which is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.
Object. I sometimes think of death, but the thoughts of death and judgement are ve∣ry terrible; I fear I am not fit to die, how shall it be known?
Answ. There is a habitual fitness for death and an actual fitness for death. Every graciously upright man or woman in the world that fears God in truth, is habitually fit to dye, so prepared for his great change, that the sting of death, or second death shall not hurt him, having past the the strait gate, shot the gulf, he is out of danger. As soon as a man is in a Page 238 state of grace born again, made a new creature, and by faith united unto the Lord Jesus Christ; God is reconciled, his person justified, his sins pardoned, and recorded in the Court of Heaven, though his pardon is not brought down, transcrib'd and seal'd in the Court of his own conscience. The truly converted soul is Gods special favourite, and shall lodge in his bosom, and never more be out of his favour: 'tis true, heaven may be out of sight, God may frown, but will never condemn. There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom. 8 1. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, 1 John 2. 1. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect, it is God that justifieth, it is Christ that dyed, Rom. 8. 33. 34.
Quest. When is the godly man actually prepared for death?
Answ. When his spiritual estate is well setled, viz. all made sure between God and his soul: particularly,
Page 239 1. When a man is truly conscious to himself that he hath sincerely, and with much brokeness of heart repented of all his known sins committed before or after conversion, so that there is no fresh or former guilt remaining on him. This godly sorrow, is the godly mans pleasure, he delights to be sowing in tears, loves with his soul a wet seed-time; for they that sow in tears, shall reap a harvest of joy, which is a time of refresh∣ing rom the presence of God, compare, Psal. 126. 5, 6. and Acts 3. 19.
2. When sin is so great a bur den, that he is weary of this body of death, and willing the infected house should be pulled down, that the Leprosie might be cured, that so he might never sin or offend his Father more. The serious thoughts, and sence of which is a heavy burden, and matter of greif, that makes him groan and complain. We in this Tabernacle do groan, being burthened: and O how, bitterly did St. Paul. com∣plain Rom. 7. 24. O wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death? He had been in deaths Page 240 often for the sake of his dear Lord, but this death, his body of sin, troubled him more then any: It was so great a burden to holy David, that he felt it in his very bones, Psal. 38. 3.
3. The godly man is fit to dye, when the work of grace is perfected, and his Generation work ended. When the be∣leiving soul hath his Vessel full of Oyl, and the Wedding garments of the glo∣rious Righteousness of Christ about him, then he is a Vessel of honour pre∣pared unto glory, Rom. 9. 23. wrought for the self same thing, 2 Cor. 4. 5. and made meet, or fit for the inheritance of the Saints in light, Col. 1. 12. The ship that's laden or fraugthed, is fit to put to Sea, and to sail from hence, or for its appointed Port. The labourer is fit to receive his wages when he hath done his work; so when the heaven born soul hath faithfully served his Ge∣neration, and done the work in his Place, Calling, and Relations, for which God sent him and intrusted him (though the best fall short, being in some de∣grees unprofitable servants) then is he Page 241 fit to welcome death, though to the flesh its the Kings of terrours. When the godly man, liveing or dying, can apeal to the heart-fearching God, as Hezekiah did, Isa. 38. And say, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do, John 17. I have finish'd my course, and there is laid up for me a Crown of righteousness 2 Tim. 4. 8. this makes him fit and willing to depart to be with Christ.
When sin is pardoned, and the pardon sealed, i e when the clamorous noise of the guilt of sin in the consci∣ence, is calmed and silenced, by the blood of sprinkling, and his evidences for heaven, bright and clear, so that his better country is within view, and the gate of glory wide open, namely abun∣dant entrance into the everlasting King∣dom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. 1. 11. Lot had a mind to prolong his time in Sodom, it was, a goodly City and he was not well assured wither to go, when he had lest it. But when the gracious soul his assured of a better state, a better life, that's hid with Christ in God, so that he can say, as Page 242 once an eminent godly man dying: I shall but change my place: I shall not change my company: He may then (being seal'd to the day of Redemption) long for his dissolution.
5. When the heart is weaned from, and weary of this evil world and so en∣flam'd with love to Christ, that it can∣not live without him, or be absent from him: Having tasted of the Grapes of Eshcol, he must go to Canaan to see the good Land, that goodly Mountain. A foresight or glimps of the sweetness, beauty and glory of the Lord Jesus, will cause most vehement longing to be with him. Now let thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. For this we groan earnestly. And O how confidently, quietly, and comfortably may such a soul entertain the thoughts of death, that hath sincerely repented of all sin, and to whom sin is so greiv∣ous a burden, that he would dye to be rid of it. And whose soul is ••l'd and fraughted with grace, and assured of glory, and his heart sent as a Harbinger to Heaven before him. And indeed a Page 243 serious and hearty consideration of our eternal state would provoke us to press earnestly after all this.
To close up all, let me ask you (as in the presence of the great Judg of quick and dead, at whose dreadful tribunal you must all shortly stand) these following Queries.
Quer. 1. First, Whether a seasonable prepara∣tion for death and Judgement, viz. how you may escape Hell, and come safe to Heaven, be not the most urgent and im∣portant business, that you have in all the world? Let your conscience judge and determine.
Quer. 2. Are not they in a very happy condi∣tion, that do believe, repent and turn to God with their whole heart? who by liv∣ing a life of grace, are truly prepared for death, and out of the dreadful hazzard of loosing Heaven? Rom. 8. 1. Psal. 37. 37.
Page 244Quer. 3. Is it not possible that you being yet on this side the Grave and Hell, may prepare for this evil day? were you re∣solv'd upon it, would be done: you have often intended it, promised it; when shall it be? none but the Devil, and your flesh will stop and hinder you.
Quer. 4. Do you firmly beleive the things here will fail, that death will come, that sin that accursed thing will sting, and that the impenitent sinners case at the hour of death wil be sad, and very desperate: Let me say to all such, there is not a night you lye down upon your beds, but you run a very great hazzard: If death should call and you not ready, you must go, though you be ruin'd to eternity, Matth. 25. 10, 11, 12, 16, 22, 23.
Quer. 5. Have you so liv'd, as to be fit to lye Page 245 down in a Grave, to rise again, and stand before God who is a consuming fire? Do you know your selves in a state of grace, that you are new born, that your evidences for heaven are clear and certain? is your work done? do your Lamps burn? and have you a well∣grounded assurance, that you are in the Number of those, to whom death will be a priviledge? Phil. 21.
Quer. 6. Can you chearfully, and without dread, entertain the thoughts of a disso∣lution, and of leaving all your earthly and sensual delightes? Suppose the dread∣ful Judge should at this instant send death into this place, with the names of five or six of you in his writ or forehead; and death should say, you, and you, this man, and that woman, must go along with me.
I have received a comand from the great and terrible God, (who hath the power of death and of hell) to bring you young man, young woman, this day or night before the Judgement seats Page 246 I have often warned you by sending my Deputies, and and that this ten, twenty or forty yeares, every Coffin, every, dead Corps or Grave you have seene, was so many intimations of my coming. Now (saith death) I am come, look here up∣on my commission, see my dart, and my sting. This dart must kill the body, and send thy soul unto eternity. I com∣mand thee this moment to bid adieu to and take thy leave of Friends, Relations, Houses, Lands, pleasures of sin, once for all. Thou shalt never see or jnjoy them more, Luke 12. 19. 20. O how can you think of your dying, the worlds burning, the trumpers Sounding, the deads rising and staunding at the Bar, and not fear and tremble? You Sons and Daughters of pleasures! did you consider what horror and astonishment dogs you as the heels, which will inevitable come upon you, as travel on a woman with child, you would not say unto God, de∣part and treasure up wrath, lay up scoor∣ges and scorpions for your distressed souls against the last day.
Page 247Quer. 7. Let me ask you that pass for Saints, and hope for Heaven whether your con∣sciences in secret do not tell you that you have made poor preparation for it; yea, it may have done less for Heaven then many that are now in hell.
You say you must dye and come to judgement; but how stands the case as to the other world? If you look downward to this world, its well; but how is it within with your precious soul? Do you beleive that Atheists, Unbeleivers, Drunk∣ards, Swearers, Murderers, Thieves, Per∣secutors, Lyars Sabbath-breakers, Adul∣terers, worldlings, are going swiftly to hell? Do you beleive that Christs flock is little, and not fear your selves? Do you think that Esau, Judas, Ahab, Agrippa, Herod, Simon Magus, the foolish Virgins are in hell, and yet confident of your go∣ing to heaven? These have out done ma∣ny of you, Esau wept and cryed for the bles∣sing, Heb. 12. 17. Ahab humbled himself 1 Kings 12, 29. Herod did many things, and heard John joyfully, Mark 16. 20. Agrip∣pa was almost a Christian, Acts 6. 28. Page 248The Scribe was not far from the kingdom of God, Mark 12. 34. The foolish Virgins were not prophane, they took care to trim their Lamps, and knock at the door. Now what sins have you lest? what grace have you exercis'd what duties have you performed? and how? Take heed you be not deceived; Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able, Luk. 13. 24.
Quer. 8. 4. You having so many warnings, time and means to prepare for death & judg∣ment, and will not, who will pity you when you perish? God will not, Prov. 1. 26, 27. Christ will not, Luke 19. 27. An∣gels, Saints, Ministers will not, all will say, away with them, let them be damn'd.
And O what a killing and amazing sight will Christs coming in the clouds be to all that either denied his coming, or who would not prepare for it. His incar∣nation was terrible, Matth. 2. 3. His Cru∣cifixion was more terrible, Luk. 23. 44. 45, 47. 48, But his being on the tribunal, will be most terrible. Then shall the tribes of the earth mourn, Math. 24. 3. And men cry to the rocks and mountaines to Page 249 fall on them, Rev. 6. 15, 16. When they shall see so many thousands and millions of men and women dragged down with all the Devils of hell, to that burning lake of fire and brimstone. How will they then mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit, and with bit∣terness of soul wish they had never heard of Christ, that they had been born among the Heathen or never had a being or en∣joy'd a life of pleasure upon the Earth! How will the wretched sinner beat his breast, pluck off his hair, tear his bowels, crying out (when he sees all hope is gone) O that I had now no soul! or that this immortal soul were mortal! that I might now dye and breath no more! or that my sentence might be but to lodge with Devils in this burning lake ten thosand years, that so I might not remain in a state of banishment from the face and presence of God to all eternity.
O then pray! that serious thoughts of death may be alwayes upon thine heart, and whethere thou goest let them go, and where thou lodgest let them lodg that thou mayest speak of it to thy Chil∣dren, and Family, when thou sitttest in Page 250 thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou lyest down, and when thou risest up. O let these great things of death and judgment, be bound as a signe upon thine hand, and write them upon the posts of thine house and on thy gates: that they may be al∣ways before thine eyes and for thy good alwayes; that thou may'st beware least thou forget the Lord thy God, and the everlasting concernments of thine im∣mortal soul and gods anger be kindled against thee, and destroy thee suddenly with a mighty destruction.
Consider now what I have spoken, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things, 2 Tim. 2. 7. Which is that God wisheth in the Text: O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider thrir latter end,