nper, nec

upon; the rule itself is, that speedily, without any pro- SERM. crastination or delay, we should apply ourselves to the ob- XLVIII. servance of God's commandments; the practice of which rule it shall be my endeavour to recommend and press.

It is a common practice of men, that are engaged in bad courses, which their own conscience discerneth and disapproveth, to adjourn the reformation of their lives to a farther time, so indulging themselves in the present commission of fin, that yet they would seem to purpose and promise themselves hereafter to repent and take up: few Vi&uros resolve to perfist finally in an evil way, or despair of being temp one day reclaimed; but immediately and effectually to set vivimus

unquam. upon it, many deem unseasonable or needless; it will, they Manil. 4. presume, be soon enough to begin to-morrow, or next day, a month or a year hence, when they shall find more commodious opportunity, or shall prove better disposed thereto: in the mean time with Solomon's fuggard, Yet, fay Prov. vi. 10 they, a little seep, a little Number, a little folding of the hands: let us but neglect this duty, let us but satisfy this appetite, let us but enjoy this bout of pleasure; hereafter, God willing, we mean to be more careful, we hope that we shall become more sober: so like bad debtors, when our conscience dunneth us, we always mean, we always promise to pay; if she will stay awhile, the shall, we tell her, be satisfied; or like vain spendthrifts, we see our estate fly, yet presume that it will hold out, and at length we shall reserve enough for our use. Eis aŭpoy crudnia, Plut. in PeLet serious bupness stay till the morrow, was a saying that lopo cost dear to him who said it; yet we in our greatest concerns follow him. But how fallacious, how dangerous, and how mischiev. Non eft,

crede mihi, ous this manner of proceeding is; how much better and ca more advisable it is, after the example propounded in our cere, vi

vam. Mart. text, speedily to betake ourselves unto the discharge of. 16. our debt and duty to God, the following considerations will plainly declare.

tis di

• Recognosce fingulos, confidera universos, nullius non vita fpe&tat in cras. tinum; non enim vivunt, sed vi&turi sunt. Sen. Ep. 45.


SERM. 1. We may consider, that the observance of God's comXLVIII. mandments (an observance of them proceeding from an

habitual disposition of mind, in a constant tenor of practice) is our indispensable duty, our main concernment, our only way to happiness; the necessary condition of our attaining salvation; that alone, which can procure God's love and favour toward us; that unto which all real bless

ings here, and all bliss hereafter, are inseparably annexed: Eccl. xii. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole

of man; (the whole duty, the whole design, the whole

perfection, the sum of our wisdom, and our happiness.) Matt. xix. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments: The Pal. xi.7. righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth Prov. xv. 9. behold the upright: God will render to every man accordRom. ii. 6.

*ing to his works: these are oracles indubitably clear, and

infallibly certain; these are immovable terms of justice

between God and man, which never will, never can be re. Matt. v. 18. laxed; being grounded on the immutable nature of God,

xvi. and eternal reason of things: if God had not decreed, if Psal. cxix. he had not said these things, they would yet assuredly be

true; for it is a foul contradiction to reason, that a man ever should please God without obeying him; it is a gross absurdity in nature, that a man should be happy without being good; wherefore all the wit in the world cannot devise a way, all the authority upon earth (yea, I dare say, even in heaven itself) cannot establish a condition, beside faithful observance of God's law, that can save, or make us happy: from it there can be no valid dispensation, without it there can be no effectual absolution, for it there can be no acceptable commutation; nor, in defect thereof, will any faith, any profession, any trick or pretence whatever, avail or signify any thing: whatever expedient to supply its roon, superstition, mistake, craft, or presumption may recommend, we shall, relying thereon, be certainly deluded. If therefore we mean to be saved, (and are we so wild as not to mean it?) if we do not renounce felicity, (and do we not then renounce our wits?) to become virtuous, to proceed in a course of obedience, is a work that necessarily must be performed: and why

Luke xy 17.


then should we not instantly undertake it? wherefore do SERM. we demur or stick at it ? how can we at all rest quiet, XLVI while an affair of so vast iinportance lieth upon our hands, or until our mind be freed of all uncertainty and fufpenfe about it? Were a probable way suggested to us of acquiring great wealth, honour, or pleasure, should we not quickly run about it? could we contentedly Neep, till we had brought the business to a fure or hopeful issue? and why with less expedition or urgency should we pursue the certain means of our present security and comfort, of our final salvation and happiness? In doing so, are we not strangely inconsistent with ourselves ?

Again, disobedience is the certain road to perdition; that which involveth uis in guilt and condemnation, that which provoketh God's wrath and hatred against us, that which assuredly will throw us into a state of eternal sor. row and wretchedness: The foolish Mall not stand in God's Pfal. v. 5. hght; he hateth all the workers of iniquity: If ye do not Luke xiii. repent, ye shall perish: The wicked shall be turned into hell, Pali and all the people that forget God: The unrighteous shall 1 Cor. vi. 9. not inherit the kingdom of God: The wicked shall go into Matt. xxv. everlasting punishment : these are denunciations no less 46. sure than severe, from that mouth, which is never opened in vain; from the execution whereof there can be no shelter or refuge. And what wise man, what man in his right senses, would for one minute stand obnoxious to them? Who, that anywise tendereth his own welfare, would move one step forward in so perilous and destructive a course? the farther in which he proceedeth, the more he discosteth from happiness, the nearer he approacheth to ruin. - In other cases common sense prompteth men to proceed otherwise; for who, having rendered one his enemy, that far overmatcheth him, and at whose mercy he standeth, will not instantly sue to be reconciled? Who, being leized by a pernicious disease, will not haste to seek a cure? Who, being fallen into the jaws of a terrible danger, will not nimbly leap out thence? And such plainly is our case: while we perfst in fin, we live in enmity and defiance with

fal. ix. 17.

6. vii. 21.

Seku. under a fatal pou destroy us; W


SERM, the Almighty, who can at his pleasure crush us; we lie XLVIII. under a fatal plague, which, if we do not seasonably re

pent, will certainly destroy us; we incur the most dreadful of all hazards, abiding in the confines of death and deftru&ion; God frowning at us, guilt holding us, hell gap

ing for us: every finner is, according to the Wise Man's Prov. xxiii. expreslion, as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, of

as he that lieth upon the top of a maft. And he that is in such a case, is he not mad or senseless, if he will not forthwith labour to swim out thence, or make all speed to get down into a safer place? Can any man with comfort lodge in a condition so dismally ticklish?

2. We may consider, that, in order to our final welfare, we have much work to dispatch, the which requireth as earnest care and painful industry, so a competent long time; which, if we do not presently fall on, may be wanting, and thence our work be left undone, or imperfect. To conquer and correct bad inclinations, to render our sensual appetites obsequious to reason, to compose our passions into a right and steady order, to cleanse our souls from vanity, from perverseness, from both, from all vicious distempers, and in their room to implant firm habits of virtue; to get a clear knowledge of our duty, with a ready disposition to perform it; in fine, to season our minds with holy affections, qualifying us for the presence of God, and conversation with the blessed spirits above; these are things that must be done, but cannot be done in a

trice; it is not di&tum factum, as soon done as said ; but Rom. ii. 7. únquori éprou ayatov, a patient continuance in well doing, is

needful to achieve it; for it no time can be redundant; the longest life can hardly be sufficient: Art is long, and life is short, may be an aphorism in divinity as well as in phyfic; the art of living well, of preserving our soul's health,

and curing its distempers, requireth no less time to comOj xa Diudx. pass it, than any other art or science. on nuiv xoengu Bondorio Virtue is not a mushroom, that springeth up of itself in ws:06, one night, when we are asleep, or regard it not; but a depívous. licate plant, that groweth slowly and tenderly, needing Chrys, ad Eph. ang.

much pains to cultivate it, much care to guard it, much "

1 time to mature it, in our untoward soil, in this world's SERM,

uukindly weather: happiness is a thing too precious to be -LV purchased at an easy rate; heaven is too high to be conie

at without much climbing; the crown of bliss is a prize ! too noble to be won without a long and a tough conflict.

Neither is vice a spirit, that will be conjured down by a

charm, or with a presto driven away; it is not an adversa: ry, that can be knocked down at a blow, or dispatched

with a stab. Whoever shall pretend that at any time, o quam : easily, with a celerity, by a kind of legerdemain, or by any muy

iftud pa. mysterious knack, a man may be settled in virtue, or con tant, quibus

tam tacile verted from vice, common experience abundantly will con-videtur! fute him; which sheweth, that a habit otherwise (setting Quint, sii. miracles aside) cannot be produced or destroyed, than by a constant exercise of acts suitable or opposite thereto; and that such acts cannot be exercised without voiding all impediments, and framing all principles of action, (such as temper of body, judgment of mind, influence of custoin,) to a compliance; that who by temper is peevith or choleric, cannot, without mastering that temper, become patient or meek; that who from vain opinions is proud, cannat, without confidering away those opinions, prove humble; that who by custom is grown intemperate, cannot, without weaning himself from that custom, come to be fober; that who, from the concurrence of a sorry nature, fond conceits, mean breeding, and scurvy usage, is covetous, cannot, without draining all those sources of his fault, be turned into liberal. The change of our mind is one of the greatest alterations in nature, which cannot be compassed in any way, or within any time we please; but it mult proceed on leisurely and regularly, in such order, by such steps, as the nature of things doth permit; it must be wrought by a resolute and laborious perseverance; by a watchful application of mind, in voiding prejudices, in waiting for advantages, in attending to all we do; by forcible wresting our nature from its bent, and swimming against the current of impetuous desires; by a patient disentangling ourselves from practices molt agreeable and familiar to us; by a wary fencing with temptations, by

« VorigeDoorgaan »