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tunities of doing and getting good as formerly, Eccl. xi. 2. Thou knoweft not what evil fall be upon tha earth. The days of Noah and Lot were evil days; and they redeemed time, the one by preparing an ark timely, the other by a timely escape out of sodom: and haď they not done so, the one had been carried away with the deluge, and the other had perished in the flames of Sodom. They that will not do when they may, may come to see the time when they shall not have opportunity when they would. When men have no use for God's candle fet up among them to let them fee to work, he will readily take it away, or at least it shall burn very dim, Redeem time; for God is plainly faying to you, Who among you will give ear to this? who will bearken, and bear for tbe time to come? If. xlii. 23. :
3. Because such days arę dangerous and enfnaring days, and therefore people have the more need to be on their guard: And if they do not set themselves to raw against the stream of the day, they will be fair to be carried down the stream with others. Therefore our Lord says, Because iniquity Mall abound, the lave of many Aball wax cold, Matth. xxiv. 12. When a land or country is infected with the plague, every one fees himself obliged to take more than or dinary care about himself, left the spreading conta. gion catch hold of him: now, spiritual infection in principles and practices are visibly spreading at this, day; and we are like men in a throng, if we do not forcibly press forward, we cannot miss to be carried off our feet, and carried backward by the croud. The cause of truth and holiness is so fully on the field againt a declining generation, that no man can Atand neutral, but he must lose ground to the enemy.
4. Because God is much dishonoured in such days; and that should rouch our hearts very nearly. This was David's practice, Psal. cxix. 136. Rivers of wa. ters run down unine eyes; becaufe they keep not thy law. It is very natural for the children of God,
when they see their Father remarkably dishonoured, that their hearts ftir within them, as was the case of Paul, when he was at Athens, and saw the city wholly given to idolatry, Acts xvii. 16. Remarkable is the story of the dumb fon of Croesus king of Lydia, who, feeing a soldier, when his father's capital city, Sardis, was taken by Cyrus the Persian, ready to give the king, whom he did not know, a stroke upon the head with his scimitar, made such a violent effort and struggle, out of fear and tenderness for the life of his father, that he broke the strings of his tongue, and cried out, Soldier, spare the life of Crafus. The further others go from him, they will endeavour to draw the nearer to him. At such a time there is a special call from Heaven, saying, Who is on my fide ? And when the honour of God so lies at stake, in the conspiracy of a generation against it, it is fad for men to be asleep; nay, it is high time to awake.
5. Because as redeeming of time is always seasonable, so it is in a special manner seafonable when the days are evil. There is a peculiar beauty in it to be beft when others are worst, to be awake when the virgins round about are slumbering and fleeping. God takes special notice of such ; as in the case of Noah, of whom it is said, Gen. vi. 9. Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God; and also in the case of Lot, of whom the apostle Peter says, 2 epist. ii. 7. 8. God deliver. ed juft Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: far that rightequs man dwelling among them, in seeing and bearing, vexed bis righteous foul from day to day, with their unlawful deeds. Redeem time in these evil days, fo fhall ye outfhoot Satan in his own bow, and turn the cannon upon him, who en. deavours to carry you away with the stream. To take occasion froin good to do evil' is devilish, but to take occafion from evil to do good is divine,
6. Because mens own interest lies in it. They that are awake in a way of duty while others sleep,
shall rest in a way of privilege when the peace of oo thers shall be broken, Hab. iii. 16.-I trembled in myfelf, that I might rest in the day of trouble. To stand at a distance from finful courses, in a sinning time, is the way to safety and comfort in a suffering time. Hence is that commission from the Lord in favour of his people, Ezek. ix. 4. Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and fet a mark upon the foreheads of the men that hgh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst there. of. It is pleasing to the flesh to go with the multitude, in a time of God's patience with a finful generation: but when the Lord comes to plead his controversy with the generation, there will be a dreadful reckoning, and they will then come off with loss. But thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they sball walk with me in white; for they are worthy, Rev. ii. 4. .
9. Lastly, This is a rational way of acting, and so do wise men in their temporal affairs. If a harvest· day be cloudy or windy, do not men the more vigo. - rously handle their fickles? If a dearth be feared, are not men the more careful to provide for themselves? Even the very ants are busy in harvest, while the winter is approaching. But, alas ! the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; and the fluggard needs to be set to school to learn of the ants.
I come now to the application of this doctrine, which is the principal thing I had in view. And
USE I. shall be of exhortation. O let us be stirred up to redeem time, because our days are evil. Alas! our days are evil days with a witness, and they are still growing worse and worse; and the progress in the way of evil is so swift, that we seem to be very near arrived at that pitch, at which the Lord's anger may be expected to break forth into a flame. Our days are evil days in several respects; in respect of corruption of doctrine and principles of religion ;-in
respect of abounding fin ;-in respect of the hiding of the Lord's face;-in respect of threatened wrath and impending judgments ;--and in respect of the guilt
of former times yet unpurged away. sa . First, Our days are evil days in respect of corrup
tion of doctrine and principles of religion. The tares There are sown and grow apace in the Lord's field. Papists
are spreading their poison, and Prelatists theirs, without due check or control. A spirit of apoftasy from the faith once delivered to the faints, appears eminently in these our unhappy days, wherein the very founda
tions of religion are struck at, and the mysteries of it n called to an account before the bar of corrupted reason,
and measured with the crooked reed of man's natural
finners finners unto God, Gal. iii. 2. and therefore Satan ftrives with all his might to pervert it, and so to make it the more unfit for reaching of its end.
4. It is a sad prognostic of the further woful decay of practical godlinefs. The doctrine which is of God is according to godliness, Tit. i. 1.; and that which hath not a tendency to promote real godliness, is not a doctrine from God. The law in its due place lead. ing finners to Christ, and leading them as a rule of life in Christ, tends to this end: but when it is put out of its due place, it is perverted, and will never produce more like holiness, but a carcase of forma} performances unacceptable to God, in some; and more licentiousness and untenderness in others, as may be observed in the lives of those who fo handle the law as to confound it with the gospel, John vii: 19. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law ?
5. There is a bias in the corrupt nature of man in a very eminent measure, whereby people are ready to entertain corrupt principles; and so they are ready to be subverted by them. For there is not an error vented in the world, but it has some one lust or other akin to it in the hearts of men. And there is a peculiar bias to legalism, which is the temptation and snare of our day.
6. Human learning is highly advanced in our days, and the power of godliness is under a great decay. And none are so capable to do a mischief to religion as those learned men, who are strangers to the power of godliness. This is it by which religion comes to be moulded in a suitableness to carnal reason, and so is perverted.
7. It is a great sign of the Lord's anger against a finful generation, for their not receiving the truth in love. Hence says the apostle, 2 Theff. ii. 10. 11.-With all deceivableness of unrighteousness, in them that peris; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be faved. And for this cause God sball send