« FöregåendeFortsätt »
repentance and reformation, is now the only way to obtain pardon and forgiveness. Now unless a man repent, he cannot be sensible of the impurity of the act, nor of his danger thereby; and till this be done, he will not seek after his remedy, no more than a man will seek after a physician, that is not fensible of his disease, nor of his danger by means thereof. No man will go to Christ for pardon, unless he be sensible of the evil of sin and of which he doth repent, and condemn himself, and resolve against it ; for no true penitent doth allow himself in fin.
But farther, shall save his foul alive. From this we may understand of how great benefit the good use and improvement of our time is. Time, though it be of the flenderest entity, yet ’tis of the most moral consideration, because improveable to the highest advantage. Our time is a day of grace, for we are in a probation state : so that now it fairly lies before us, to make ourselves happy for ever. And we may alfo by the abuse of the grace of God, undo ourselves for ever. Therefore I say unto you in the words of Moses, Deut. Xxx 19. I set before you this day life and death, blessing and curfing, choose life, For when a wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doth that which is lauful and right, he fhall save his soul alive. But if he continue in wickedness, he fhall surely die.
How many are there that overlook the business, purpose and intention of life! We are here to run a race, and so to run, that we may obtain and therefore we are to watch over ourselves, both as
to the things of our mind, and body ; and so to keep under our bodies, and bring them into subjection, that we may not ruin and undo ourselves. Now this is another thing, than to gratify our sense, and live in a humour. No, no, we must run the race that is set before us, and as those that strain for the mastery, must be temperate in all things. This is our business, to serve the interest of our souls, in the state that is before us. Therefore I advise every man that is serious, to ask himself these queftions.
ist. Will this that I have done, or am doing, be accountable, when God shall call me to a reckoning? When any thing doubtful is proposed, or of a bad quality, then ask this question ; fhall I be able to give an account for this, when I shall stand before the tribunal feat of Christ? The
2d. Question is that which Abigail put to David 1 Sam. xxv. 31. This will be no grief of heart, nor of
fence unto thee.
3d. Question is, what shall I think of this, when I shall lie upon my death bed? What judgment of apprehension shall I have of it then? The
4th. Question is, how remediless will the consequence of evil be, when I shall have the least relief by my reason, and be least capable of advice ; and when I shall have the least assistance of God's grace and Spirit ? How shall I be then able to bear up against the intolerable burthen of evił and guilt too? Let us consider that we die daily in a threefold respect ; in respect of age, in respect of diseases, and in respect of hazard and danger. In respect of age,
we grow nearer and nearer unto death : and in respect of diseases, which is death in some degree : and lastly in respect of hazard and danger from abroad. For whosoever neglects God and the law, may be master of any body's life. How will men satisfy themselves, that take so little care how they pass out of time, into eternity? That live and die in such a frame and temper, which is altogether unfit for the business and employment of eternity ? For if we expect to be happy, and to attend upon God, and holy angels, and saints in glory ; it is necefiary that we free ourselves from all impurity and by holiness of life qualify ourselves for the enjoyment of God. For our Saviour hath told us, that unless we be converted, and become as little children, that are innocent and harmless, that may suffer wrong, but will do none, we cannot enter into heaven. These three things do utterly unqualify a man for the state of glory and happiness.
1. Earthliness, worldliness, and carnality. 2. A fpirit of malice, ill-will, and revenge. 3. Pride, arrogancy, and haughtiness.
1. Earthliness, worldliness, and carnality. The pfalmist tells us, Psal. xvii. 11. That worldly men have their portion in this life. They being unqualified for the state of eternity.
2. Then for those that live in the spirit of envy, malice, and ill-will. They have the very spirit and temper of the devil, who goes about seeking whom he may devour.
3. And for pride : the apostle Jude tells us, that this was the very temper of the angels that fell, that kept not their first state, but through pride and arrogance, did assume to themselves.
kept much ceed
But to draw to a conclusion. Since now we have such a declaration as this in the text, which contains the fulness of gospel knowledge : that when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his foul alive. Let us entertain good thoughts of God, let us have right apprehensions of him in our minds always think so of God, as to encourage our application to him. And never think that he is implacable ; but that he is ready to forgive, and is no hard master, nor difficult to please, nor backward to forgive. Yea, I will say more, that God is such a friend to our souls, and takes such delight in our conversion and turning to him, that he will not be wanting on his part, to afford us what is necessary, for our enablement and encouragement. And should we think otherwise of God, we should fret in our minds against him, and sit down in discontent and despair : just as you have an account in Rev. ix. 6. of some that blasphemed God because of their pains. This was the temper of Cain, who faid, my sin is greater than can be forgiven. By this a man doth put himself quite out of the way of forgiveness.
I add, that it is the special and genuine effect of the mercy of God to bring finners to repentance. But by every evil act that a man doth commit, his recovery is the more difficult; because sin doth put a man quite out of temper, and sets him at the greater distance from God. For fin hardens a man's heart, and spoils the modesty of intellectual nature, and
much more disposeth a man for evil, than he was before.
Now in the clofe of all, I will reinforce the ad. vice of the text, that the wicked turn from his wickedness. And let us not herein be mistaken, for we ought in nothing more to understand ourselves ao right; because it is the cafe of life and death. Therefore in these cafes, as I told you, men cannot be said to forfake their fins, when fin rather leaves them, than they their fins; when his turning from fin ariseth rather from abroad than from himself, and is rather the effect of his company, and those that have power over him. You cannot say that men turn from their wickedness, when 'tis not their own motion, nor what they would do if free and left to themselves. Nor when a man out of fear of former sufferings, doth not do as formerly he did. For you must know, that all vice and wickedness is first contrary to the reason of our minds ; and secondly, to the health of our bodies : for by fin and wickedness men lay the foundation of aches and diseases, and shorten their days. In thefe cafes a man cannot be said to turn from his fins : but in the other cases which I named, a man may be said to turn from his wickedness,
First, When the wicked man loaths his fin out of sense and judgment of the baseness and vileness of it. For the motion, ground, and principle of an action, doth fpecificate the action. And you can not upon a moral account, estimate an action from the materiality of it, but from the intention, motion, ground, and principle from which it doth pro