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enjoy what they lay up, after they have left the world. And if their children should have the comfort of it as they desire, they will not partake with them in that comfort, or have any portion in any thing under the sun. In things which relate to men's temporal interest, they seem very sensible of the uncer tainty of life, especially of the lives of others; and to make answerable provision for the security of their worldly interest, that no considerable part of it may rest only on so uncertain a foundation, as the life of a neighbour or friend Common discretion leads them to take good care that their outward pos sessions be well secured by a good and firm title. In worldly concerns, men discern their opportunities, and are careful to improve them before they are past. The husbandman is careful to plough his ground and sow his seed in the proper season; otherwise he knows he cannot expect a crop: And when the harvest is come, he will not sleep away the time; for he knows if he does so the crop will soon be lost. How careful and eagleeyed is the merchant to improve opportunities to enrich himself? How apt are men to be alarmed at the appearance of danger to their worldly estate, or any thing that remarkably threatens great damage to their outward interest? And how will they bestir themselves in such a case, if possible to avoid the threatened calamity? In things purely secular, and not of a moral or spiritual nature, they easily receive conviction by past experience, when any thing, on repeated trial, proves unprofitable or prejudicial; and are ready to take warning by what they have found themselves, and also by the experience of their neighbours and forefathers.
But if we consider how men generally conduct themselves). in things on which their well-being infinitely more depends, how vast is the diversity? In these things how cold, lifeless, and dilatory? With what difficulty are a few, out of multitudes, excited to any tolerable degree of care and diligence, by the innumerable means used in order to make them wise for themselves? And when some vigilance and activity is excited, how apt is it to die away, like a mere force against a natural tendency? What need of a constant repetition of admonitions and counsels to keep the heart from falling asleep? How many objections are made? How are difficulties magnified? And how soon is the mind discouraged? How many arguments, often renewed, variously and elaborately enforced, do men stand in need of, to convince them of things that are almost self-evident? As that things which are eternal are infinitely more important than things temporal, and the like. And after all, how very few are convinced effectually, or in such a manner as to induce them to a practical preference of eternal things? How senseless are men of the necessity of improving their time, as to their
spiritual interest, and their welfare in another world? Though it be an endless futurity, and though it be their own personal, infinitely important good, that is to be cared for. Though men are so sensible of the uncertainty of their neighbours' lives, when any considerable part of their own estates depends on the continuance of them; how stupidly senseless do they seem to be of the uncertainty of their own lives, when their preservation from immensely great, remediless, and endiess misery, is risked by a present delay, through a dependence on future opportunity? What a dreadful venture will men carelessly and boldly run, repeat and multiply, with regard to their eternal salvation; who yet are very careful to have every thing in a deed or bond, firm and without a flaw? How negligent are they of their special advantages and opportunities for their soul's good? How hardly awakened by the most evident and imminent dangers, threatening eternal destruction, yea, though put in mind of them, and much pains taken to point them forth, shew them plainly, and fully to represent them, if possible to engage their attention? How are they like the horse that boldly rushes into the battle? How hardly are men convinced by their own frequent and abundant experience, of the unsatisfactory nature of earthly things, and the instability of their own hearts in their good frames and intentions? And how hardly convinced by their own observation, and the experience of all past generations, of the uncertainty of life and its enjoyments? Psal. xlix. 11, &c. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever.-Nevertheless, man being in honour, abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly; yet their posterity approve their sayings. Like sheep are they laid in the grave.
In these things, men who are prudent for their temporal interest act as if they were bereft of reason: They have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; neither do they understand: They are like the horse and mule, that have no understanding. -Jer. viii. 7. The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming: But my people know not the judgment of the Lord.
These things are often mentioned in scripture as evidences of extreme folly and stupidity, wherein men act as great enemies to themselves, as though they loved their own ruin; Prov. viii. 37. Laying wait for their own blood, Prov. i. 18. And how can these things be accounted for but by supposing a most wretched depravity of nature? Why otherwise should not men be as wise for themselves in spiritual and eternal things as in temporal? All christians will confess, that man's faculty of reason was given him chiefly to enable him to understand the former, wherein his main interest and true happiness con
sists. This faculty would therefore undoubtedly be every way as fit for understanding them as the latter, if not depraved. The reason why these are understood, and not the other, is not that such things as have been mentioned belonging to men's spiritual and eternal interest, are more obscure and abstruse in their own nature. For instance, the difference between long and short, the need of providing for futurity, the importance of improving proper opportunities, and of having good security and a sure foundation in affairs wherein our interest is greatly concerned, &c. these things are as plain in themselves in religious, as in other matters. And we have far greater means to assist us to be wise for ourselves in eternal, than in temporal things. We have the abundant instruction of perfect and infinite wisdom itself, to lead and conduct us in the paths of righteousness, so that we may not err. And the reasons of things are most clearly, variously and abundantly set before us in the word of God; which is adapted to the faculties of mankind, tending greatly to enlighten and convince the mind: Whereas, we have no such excellent and perfect rules to instruct and direct us in things pertaining to our temporal interest, nor any thing to be compared to it.
If any should say, It is true, if men gave full credit to what they are told concerning eternal things, and these appeared to them as real and certain things, it would be an evidence of a sort of madness in them, that they shew no greater regard to them in practice: But there is reason to think, this is not the case; the things of another world being unseen, appear to men as things of a very doubtful nature, and attended with great uncertainty.-In answer, I would observe, agreeable to what has been cited from Mr. LOCKE, though eternal things were considered in their bare possibility, if men acted rationally, they would infinitely outweigh all temporal things in their influence on their hearts. And I would also observe, that to suppose eternal things not to be fully believed, at least by them who enjoy the light of the gospel, does not weaken, but rather strengthen the argument for the depravity of nature. For the eternal world being what God had chiefly in view in the creation of men, this world was made wholly subordinate to the other, man's state here being only a state of probation, preparation, and progression, with respect to the future state. Eternal things are in effect their all, their whole concern; to understand and know which it chiefly was, that they had understanding given them; therefore we may undoubtedly conclude, that if men have not respect to them as real and certain things, it cannot be for want of sufficient evidence of their truth: But it must be from a dreadful stupidity of mind, occasioning a sottish insensibility of their truth and importance, when manifested by the clearest evidence.
That Man's Nature is corrupt, appears, in that by far the greater Part of Mankind, in all Ages, have been wicked Men.
The depravity of man's nature appears, not only in its propensity to sin in some degree, which renders a man an evil or wicked man in the eye of the law, and strict justice, as was before shewn; but it is so corrupt, that its depravity either shews that men are, or tends to make them to be, of such an evil character as shall denominate them wicked men, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.
This may be argued from several things which have been already observed: As from a tendency to continual sin; a tendency to much greater degrees of sin than righteousness, and from the general extreme stupidity of mankind. But yet the present state of man's nature, as implying or tending to a wicked character, may deserve to be more particularly considered and directly proved. And in general, this appears, in that there have been so very few in the world, from age to age, ever since the world has stood, that have been of any other character.
It is abundantly evident in scripture, and is what I suppose none that call themselves christians will deny, that the whole world is divided into good and bad, and that all mankind at the day of judgment will either be approved as righteous or condemned as wicked: either glorified as children of the kingdom, or cast into a furnace of fire as children of the wicked
I need not stand to shew what things belong to the character of such as shall hereafter be accepted as righteous, according to the word of God. It may be sufficient for my present purpose to observe what Dr. T. himself speaks of as belonging essentially to the character of such. In p. 203. he says, "This is infallibly the character of true christians, and what is essential to such, that they have really mortified the flesh with its lusts;-they are dead to sin, and live no longer therein; the old man is crucified, and the body of sin destroyed: They yield themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness to God and as servants of righteousness to holiness."There is more to the like purpose in the two next pages. 228. he says, "Whatsoever is evil and corrupt in us we ought to condemn ; not so, as it shall still remain in us, that we may always be condemning it, but that we may speedily re
form, and be effectually delivered from it; otherwise certainly we do not come up to the character of the true disciples of Christ."
In p. 248. he says, "Unless God's favour be preferred before all other enjoyments whatsoever, unless there be a delight in the worship of God, and in converse with him, unless every appetite be brought into subjection to reason and truth, and unless there be a kind and benevolent disposition towards our fellow-creatures, how can the mind be fit to dwell with God in his house and family, to do him service in his kingdom, and to promote the happiness of any part of his creation."-And in his Key, § 286. p. 101, 102, &c. shewing there what it is to be a true christian, he says among other things, "That he is one who has such a sense and persuasion of the love of God in Christ, that he devotes his life to the honour and service of God, in hope of eternal glory. And that to the character of a true christian it is absolutely necessary, that he diligently study the things that are freely given him of God, viz. his election, regeneration, &c. that he may gain a just knowledge of those inestimable privileges, may taste that the Lord is gracious, and rejoice in the gospel salvation as his greatest happiness and glory. It is necessary that he work these blessings on his heart, till they become a vital principle, producing in him the love of God, engaging him to all cheerful obedience to his will, giving him a proper dignity and elevation of soul, raising him above the best and worst of this world, carrying his heart into heaven, and fixing his affections and regards upon his everlasting inheritance, and the crown of glory laid up for him there.-Thus he is armed against all the temptations and trials resulting from any pleasure or pain, hopes or fears, gain or loss, in the present world. None of these things move him from a faithful discharge of any part of his duty, or from a firm attachment to truth and righteousness; neither counts he his very life dear to him, that he may do the will of God, and finish his course with joy. In a sense of the love of God in Christ, he maintains daily communion with God by reading and meditating on his word. In a sense of his own infirmity and the readiness of the divine favour to succour him, he daily addresses the throne of grace for the renewal of spiritual strength, in assurance of obtaining it through the one Mediator Christ Jesus. Inlightened and directed by the heavenly doctrine of the gospel, &c.*
Now I leave every one that has any degree of impartiali ty to judge, whether there be not sufficient grounds to think that it is but a very small part indeed of the many myri
* What Dr. TORNEULL says of the character of a good man, is also worthy to be observed, Chris. Phil. p. 86, 258, 259, 288, 375, 376, 409, 410.