« ElőzőTovább »
If it be thus, it is a sign that the reason why you now allow yourselves in them, and plead for their lawfulness, is, that you put death at a distance, and depend on many other days in the world.
5. Inquire, whether you do not some things on the presumption, that you shall hereafter repent of them. Is not this the very thing which causes you to dare to do some things? Is it not the very ground on which you venture to gratify your lusts? Let young people examine all their secret carriage ; what they do alone in the dark and in secret corners. God knoweth, and your own hearts know, though men do not. Put the question impartially to your own consciences; is not this the very thing that gives you courage, that God is very merciful, and that he often of his sovereign mercy gives repentance of great sins, and even wilful sins, and in consequence of repentance forgives? And so you hope, that one day or other he will do so to you. You intend some time hereafter earnestly to seek; and you hope you shall be awakened. And if you be very earnest, as you intend to be, you hope you shall be converted, and then you shall be forgiven, and it will be as well as if you had never committed such sins.
If this be the case, consider how you boast of to-morrow, and foolishly depend on future opportunity to repent, as well as foolishly presume on the mercy of God to give you repentance, at the same time that you take a course to provoke God for ever to give you up to a sealed hardness and blindness, and to a most fearful damnation ; not considering that God will glorify his revenging justice, as well as his mercy; nor remembering the sad example of Esau, “who for a morsel of meat sold his birth-right; and afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Heb. xii. 16, 17.
6. Inquire, whether you improve this day as one who doth not depend upon ever having opportunity to keep another Sabbath, or to hear or read another discourse. It appears from what hath been already said, that you have no grounds to depend on any more such opportunities. Now the day is present, and so you are in the better capacity to determine how it is with you. It is but for you to reflect upon yourselves, to look inward, and see how it is with you at this present time. And how is it? Are you as strict and as diligeot in keeping this Sabbath, watching your thoughts, keeping your hearts, striving in duties both public and private, and improving ordinances, as might be expected of one who hath no dependence on ever enjoying such an opportunity any more; one who doth not depend on ever setting foot again within the walls of God's house? Do you attend to this address with that care, and de. sire, and endeavour to improve it for your good, as you would, Vol. VI.
if you did not depend upon it, that your bodies would not be in the grave, and your souls fixed in cternity, in their unalterable state, before the next Sabbath ?
7. Are you careful to see to it that the grounds of your hope are good ? A man who hath some hope of being in a state of acceptance with God, but is not sure, if he had no dependence on any other day's opportunity of making it sure, would be very strict in examining himself, and searching the grounds of his hope, and would not rest in an uncertainty. He would be very thorough in informing himself what might be depended on as good evidence of an interest in Christ, and what not; and would be exceedingly strict in searching his own heart, to see whether there was any thing in him that comes up to the requisites laid down in the scriptures.—If what appears hopeful in him were dim and obscure, he would set himself very earnestly to obtain that which would be more clear and manifest, and would cry carnestly to God for it, and would apply himself to a diligent use of means in order to it. And good reason why; for he depends on no other opportunity to make his calling and election sure, than what he bath today. Inquire, therefore, whether you be thus thorough in examining your hope. And are you thus careful effectually to see to it, that you are on a sure foundation ? If not, then you behave yourselves as those that depend on to-morrow.
How to spend every day. God hath concealed from us the day of our death, without doubt, partly for this end, that we might be excited to be always ready, and might live as those that are always waiting for the coming of their Lord, agreeably to the counsel which Christ gives us, Matt. xxiv. 42, 44 ; xxv. 13; and, Mark xiii. 32, &c. That watchman is not faithful, who, being set to defend a house from thieves, or a city from an enemy at hand, will at any hour venture to sleep, trusting that the thief or the enemy will not come. Therefore it is expected of the watchman, that he behave himself every hour of the night, as one who doth not depend upon it that the enemy will tarry until the next hour. Now, therefore, let me, in Christ's name, renew the call and counsel of Jesus Christ to you, to watch as those that know not what hour your Lord will come. Let me call upon you who are hitherto in an unrenewed condition. Depend not upon it, that you will not be in hell hefore to-morrow morning. You have no reason for any such dependence; God hath not promised to keep you from it, or to withhold his wrath so long.
How can you reasonably be easy or quiet for one day, or one night, in such a condition, when you know not but your Lord will come this night? And if you should then be found as you now are, unregenerate, how unprepared would you be for his coming, and how fearful would be the consequence! Be exhorted, therefore, for your own sake, immediately to awake from the sleep of sin, out of sleep, and sleep no more, as not depending on any other day.-Let me exhort you to have no dependence on any future time; to keep every Sabbath, and to hear every sermon, as if it were the last. And when you go into your closet, and address yourself to your Father who seeth in secret, do it in no dependence on any future opportunity to perform the same duty. When you. that are young go into company for amusement and diversion, consider that it may be the last opportunity of the like nature that ever you may have. In all your dealings with your neighbours, act as if you were never to make another bargain. Behave in your families every day, as though you depended on no other.--Here I shall offer you two motives.
1. Consider, if you will hearken to this counsel, how much it will tend to your safety and peace in life and death. It is the way really and truly to be ready for death; yea, to be fit to live or fit to die; to be ready for affliction and adversity, and for whatever God in his providence shall bring upon you. It is the way to be in, not only an habitual, but actual preparedness for all changes, and particularly for your last change.--It is the way to possess your souls in a serene and undisturbed peace, and to enable you to go on with an immovable fortitude of soul, to meet the most frightful changes, to encounter the most formidable enemies, and to be ready with unshaken confidence to triumph over death whenever you meet him; to have your hearts fixed, trusting in God, as one that stands on a firm foundation, and bath for his babitation the munition of rocks, that is not afraid of evil tidings, but laughs at the fear of the enemy.
It will be the way for you to possess that quietness and assurance spoken of, Isa. xxxii. 17. “ The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." -The servant who always stands watching, will not be at all surprised at the news that his Lord is coming. This will be the way for you to live above the fear of death. Yea, if heaven and earth should shake; you may stand firm and unshaken, being settled on a rock, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. O how happy are such persons, who have such safety and peace! What a blessed peace is that which arises from such a constant preparation for death! How happy therefore is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing!
2. What dismal calamities and miseries mankind are sub. ject to for want of this, for want of behaving themselves every day, as not depending on any future day? The way of the world is, one day foolishly to depend on another, yea, on many others. And what is the consequence? Why, the consequence with respect to the greater part of the world is, that they live all their days without any true peace or rest of soul. They are all their lifetime subject to a bondage through fear of death. And when death sensibly approaches, they are put into a terrible fright. They have a dismal view of their past lives; the ill improvement of their time, and the sins they have been guilty of, stand staring them in the face, and are more frightful to them than so many devils. And when they look forward into that eternity whither they are going, how dismal is the prospect! O how do their hearts shrink at the thought of it! They go before the judgment-seat of God, as those that are dragged thither, while they would gladly, if they could, hide themselves in the caves and dens of the earth.
And what is worse yet than all the disquietude and terror of conscience in this world ; the consequence of a contrary behaviour, with respect to the bulk of mankind, is their eternal perdition. They flatter themselves that they shall see another day, and then another, and trust to that, until finally most of them are swallowed up in hell, to lament their folly to all eternity in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.-Consider how it was with all the foolish virgins who trusted to the delay of the bridegroom's coming; when he came they were surprised, and found unprepared, having no oil in their lamps ; and while they went to buy, those who were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut against them, and they came afterwards crying in vain, Lord, Lord, open to us.
DISHONESTY, OR THE SIN OF THEFT AND INJUSTICE.
Ex. xx. 15.
Thou shalt not steal.
This is one of the ten commandments which constitute a memory of man's duty as revealed by God. God made many revelations to the children of Israel in the wilderness by Moses : but this made in the Ten Commandments is the chief. Most of those other revelations contained ceremonial or judicial laws: but this contains the moral law. The most of those other laws respected the Jewish nation ; but here is a summary of laws binding on all mankind. Those were to last till Christ should come, and have set up the Christian Church; these are of perpetual obligation, and last to the end of the world. God every where, by Moses and the prophets, manifests a far greater regard to the duties of these commands than to any of the rites of the ceremonial law.
These commands were given at Mount Sinai, before any of the precepts of the ceremonial or judicial laws. They were delivered by a great voice out of the midst of the fire, which made all the people in the camp tremble, and afterwards were engraven on tables of stone, and laid up in the ark; the first table containing the four commandments, which teach our duty to God; the second table containing the six last, which teach our duty to man. The sum of the duties of the first table is contained in that which Christ says is the first and great commandment of the law ; Matt. xxii. 37. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” The sum of what is required in the second table, is what Christ calls the second command, like unto the first ;