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The absolute necessity of Consideration, in order to
a sérious Life. God's frequent commands to that purpose. Our Reason and the power of Consideration we are furnish’d, or endn'd with, proud to be given us for this end. Without it, Men bave cause to Jespect, that their Reformation is counterfeit.
Hat we have said hitherto, is not a thing
indifferent , left to our liberty and discretion to mind or neglect it, as we shall fee occasion. It is not in the nature of meat of fer'd to Idols, not in the nature of a Holy.day, which Men may neglect, or make conscience of, as they see it expedient, for the edifying of their Brethren. It is not in the nature of civil actions, of buying or selling, of fitting or rising, of staying in a Place or travelling, which are things left to our will and pleasure, and may be used, or superseded, according as we see convenient, or inconvenient. If labouring af ter a better Life, if endeavouring to get a share: in the incorruptible Crown of Glory, if attempts to compass the eternal felicity of our Souls
, if studying how we may be admitted into the Quire of Angels
, and enjoy the Society of the First-born which are written in Heaven,
if contriving how we may arrive to that fulness of joy God hath both reveal'd and promis’d, be indispensibly neceffary, this Consideration must be fo too. If Self preservation be not a thing indifferent, Consideration cannot pofsibly be fo. For the great Object of this Consideration is, how we may preserve our selves from being undone for ever ; how we may guard our Souls from everlasting perdition ; how we may avoid the second death ; and how we may make our happiness lasting and durable proof against the Gates of Hell, and the assaults of that roaring Lioo, who walks about, seeking whom he may devour.
God, that commands all the powers of Light and Darkness, and hath the fame power over us, that the Potter hath over his Veffel, and hath made us capable of being governed by Moral Laws, and hath created us on purpose to be ready at his beck, and may force us into obedience by Plagues and Thunders, if we are loth to be courted by smiles and favours ; God who owes no man any thing, who gives Life to all, who hath made all things for his Glory, who is in all places, and All in all, who can be present by Vengeance, where he is not present by Grace, who can be felt, but cannot be seen, who holds all things, fills all things, surrounds all things, excels all things, sustains all things, and afar off lees all the dangers we are subject to, and
knows what Armies of Enemies lye in ambush, and watch our Fall; it's he chat peremptorily com
mands this Consideration. A Sovereign Prince expects to be obey'd, and he that dares refuse, or flight his reasonable command, is justly lookt upon as a Stranger to Loyal Principles: And well may God, who is All-wise, and can do nothing that's unreasonable, expect submission to a Precept so great, so good, fo advantageous both to Soul and Body, as will appear in the Sequel. Consider your ways, is a Law which God (to shew he is in good earnest) inculcates twice in the same Prophecy, Hagg. 1.5,7. And for that the dream is donbled, it is because the thing is established by God, said Joseph to Pharaoh, Gen. 41. 32. The same we may say of repeated Exhortations. And indeed when the famous Moses bids the People, under this charge and care, to keep the Statutes and the Commandments which God had graciously vouchsafed them, that it might go well with them, and with their Children after them; the great Preparative he requires for this Religious frame, is Consideration, Deut. 4. 39, 40. as if without this, all attempts of obedience were vain, and all endeavours to serve God in spirit and truth, were no more but water spilt upon the ground. As if without this the Thunders of Mount Sinai, the Voice of God, the Love wherewith he loved them, the Tenderness be Chew'd them, the Signs, the Wonders, the mighty Hand, the stretched-out Arm, the great Terrour God brought upon the Nations round about them, would be no motivès to seriousness. It was upon the same account that Si Paul, as quicklighted as the other, peremptorily tells the Roo mans, that they would never practically approve that good, and acceptable, and perfect Will of God, without they were transform'd by the renewing of their mind, i; e. made a new improvement of their minds by Consideration. For Consideration re-builds the House that's fallen to the ground, makes the mind new, removes old prejudices against a serious life, and transforms the judgment into other thoughts and conceptions, carries a way the rubbish which oppressed the Soul, and leaves it not till it becomes a new Creature, Ron. i 2. 2. What can St Peter, 1 Pet. I. 13 mean, when he presses the Christians of those days, to gird up the soins of their minds, but this great duty we dif course of? Consideration, as it is a convocation of our thoughts, so it tyes and unites those thoughts to the great object, the one thing ne. cessary, and, as it were, girds the Soul, that it may keep within the rules of the Word of God, and may not run out into strange desires, or inordinate affections, but be more expedite and nimble in her Travels in the Land of Promise.
The truth is, from the mind, as from Aaron's Head, the precious Ointment runs down to the Skirts of our Garments. From that Mountain of Zion descends this Dew of Hermon, for there the Lord commands the Blessing, even Life for evermore. From that holy Hill roll down all those Drops of Gold, that enrich the immortal
Soul, and from that Store-house comes all the plenty that makes rational Creatures happy. This is the great Wheel, which sets the leffer Orbs a going, and if it be once impregnated with Principles of goodness and seriousness
, and these enlarg'd and spread by Consideration, the will and the affections will soon be persuaded to follow that Star, till it brings them to Bethlehem, the House of Mercy. In our Civil Affairs, it's the mind must first be fully persuaded either of the necessity, or conveniency, or danger, or advantage of things, before any wise resolution can be taken ; and we may justly conclude, that io Spiritual Concerns, men begin at the Wrong end, if they do not season their minds with such reflections, as may make a deep impression on the will and affections. For that these may resolve to follow God, and may be ravilb’d with his love, and apply themselves to his ways, and may hate every
false Path, and detest their former exorbitances and deviations, we must necessarily suppose there must be fome Spring to feed them, which Spring can be nothing
else but Consideration. And as in fin, it's the mind that first represents the unlawful pleasure of it to the Sinner, and this inflames his af. fections : This imbibes the subtle Poyson, and spreads it through the grosser parts, and secretly conveys it to all the Vital Spirits, till the whole Head doth ake, and the whole Heart grows fick. So in its Antidote, or Cure, it's the mind that must be chafed with Arguments, which may