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do, how many Souls you ruine, by your debauched and luxurious lives! Consider whether you can satisfie God as easily as you can do Man, and whether that injustice, that oppression, that covetousness, that lewdness you make nothing of now, are not lins weighty enough to bear you down into the burning Lake? Ye learned Men, whether Ministers, or others, who fee and know more than the Vulgar do, Consider your ways. Consider whether that great knowledge you have will not procure you double Stripes, if you improve it not into a higher degree of seriousness than common people use; Consider what a ridiculous thing you make Religion, if, being perswaded and convinced of the rationality of it, you do not express the power of it in your Conversations. Consider whether building Heaven with your Voices, and Hell with your Behaviour and Deportment, will not bring down upon you the feverest Plagues that are written in the Book of God! Ye that are Hearers of the Word, and frequent the Temple of the Lord, to be taught his Statutes, and his Ordinances, Consider your ways. Consider whether so many entreatings, warnings, reproofs, and admonitions, in season and out of season, which you take no notice of, will not be brought in one day as evidences to justifie your everlasting condemnation? Consider how God is like to resent your barrenness and unfruitfulness under the richest means of Grace, under the droppings of his fatness! Consider how justly God may punish your not digefting and applying his Commands and Precepts to
yourselves, with hardness and blindness of heart, and whether this Judgment be not more frequent than the World is aware of, and whether you do not participate of that Judgment? Hear this, all ye
that carry rational, Angelical Souls in your Breatts, Consider your ways. Consider what enflaving your Souls to vicious affections willcome to, and whether they will not thrive better, being irradiated with Heavenly Light,than warmed by Hellish Lutts; and whether it will not be more for your credit to advance them to their primitive luttre and beauty, than lofe them by sin and vanity. Sirs, you stand upon the brink of a bottomless pir; who but a Man, whose brains are crack'd, would not look about himself? The least pulh or thrust sends you thither. Who would not take some pains to get into a Harbour? The Ship is ready to be cast away, the Mafts are split, it's leaking on every side; who would not lay hold of a plank to save himself from drowning? If you know not what to do with that power of Consideration God hath given you, marvel not if God takes it away; and since you will not bethink your selves how to be freed from sin and misery, protests in his anger, that you shall not be able to make use of that power any more, in order to obtain Eternal Life; since you will not take up that Sword of the Spirit, to cut the Cord of Sin and Disobedience, no wonder if God blunts and dulls the edge of ir, that it shall be of no use to you, when you would employ it. O Christians, there is no jesting with a merciful God; where the greatest mercy is fcorned
and rejected, What can ye expect but the severest Judgments? Be wise therefore, before the black Decree be irreversibly Signed and Sealed against you ; you'll bless the hour and the day which bears the Date of your entire and fincere agreement to God's Will in this particular; and when you shall find, by blessed experience, that this serious Consideration of your ways is the Gate to Paradise, you'll admire the Bounty, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, that moved your hearts to embrace the motion, and you will not be able to forbear breaking out into singing the Song of Moses, and the Song of the Lamb, Blessing, Honour, and Glory be unto him that fits upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
CH A P: VIII. Of Retirement and Prayer, the two great helps
to Consideration. Retirement proved to be necessary to make Consideration of our Spiritual state mori: quick and lively. Prayer calls in the aslifta vie of God's Spirit, cind renders the work effe. ftual. A Form of Prayer to be used upon this occafion.
WILL charitably suppose, that the p. receding Exhortation may have made some Impression upon my Reader, and made him in some mea
fu re, willing to think more of his Soul, and of the danger it is in, and of his Eternal
States than formerly he usually to do; and therefore to shew him how this Consideration must be managed, that it máy in truth conquer and subdue his inordinate affections,and make them fubject to the best of Matters, I shall lay down some necessary helps to Consideration, and these are, to mention no more, Retirement and Prayer.
I. Retirement. Though I readily grant, (and docommend it too) that Men, as they are walking with others, or travelling, or going abroad about their necessary occasions, or standing in their Shops, or other Rooms, where company goes in and out, may think, that the course they have taken hitherto is not safe, and thereforeit's high time to change and alter it: Yet seeing chose thoughts are too much diverted by fenfual objects, and apt to go no farther than the mind or understanding, and reach no deeper than speculation; it must necessarily follow, that Retirement is requisite, to make it reach the affe&ions, and to spread it as far as the Life and Conversation.
By Retirement, I do not mean absconding, of hiding ones self in a corner in the Country, or ina Wilderness, but retiring in our own Houses. Let the place we live in be never so populous, to be fure we have Chambers to be private in ; and as the Rich may make their best Room a Defart for this work, so the poorest may convert any corner in their Houfes into a place for this Exercise; it's not the neatness of a Clofet that cleanseth the Soul from filthiness, nor the curiofily and convenience of a With-drawingDd 2
room, that fits the heart for him that made it ; but as Christ made sometimes a Mountain, sometimes a Ship, sometimes a Cross, his pulpit ; so a Man may make a Meadow, a Field, a Wood, a Garret, any corner of his House, a place fit to retire in, to consider seriously how the case stands between God and his own Soul. I know what Men do commonly object, the very fame thing they object against Conlideration it self,and whereof we have sufficiently spoke in the second Impediment, viz. That they have a great
deal of business, and that they canspare no time for this Retirement. Business, no doubt, must be done. But there is a time for every thing, and a season for every purpose under Heaven, and then fure there must be a time for this spiritual Retirement 100; if there be not, we are obliged to find time for it: He that cannot, or rather will not, had as good say, he hath no time to be saved; and he that cannot sometimes neglect the concerns of his Body, or Estate, fur the concerns of his better part, derides Salvation, and does not believe that there is such a thing, or if there be, that it is of so much value, as the Dirt and Dung he grovels in. It's true, Manasses's retirement was forced, much against his will, yet still it was privacy that contributed much to his amendment; for while he was encompassed with his Courtiers and Flatterers and his fawning Crew, he thought Religion a thing below him, and a New Creature but a canting term ; but being alone, none but God and his calamity about him, having nothing to take off his thoughts from reflecting on his Apostacy, be