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turned his face, to the wall, and said, I beseech thee, O Lord, to remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. If we do not consider this, we shall be wanting to the true interest of our immortal fouls. We often read in scripture, of hardness of heart; which is nothing but want of consideration : for Mark vi..52.. we read, that they con, fidered not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardned: and Exod. vii. 23. we read that Pharaoh did not set his heart to consider things. But briefly to speak to these particulars. I. Sooner and later are not alike upon a spiritual account. For the time of life is the day of exercise and time of work for God, and for the publick : for God and the publick have a due of service from us all ; for we came not into the world to gratify sense, and to serve our lufts, but to serve God and the publick, not to promote our own ends and little designs, but the common good, and as we would not neglect our duty, so we must not mispend our time. Weare to be doing our duty to God, ourselves and others, as soon as we come to the use of reason and understanding ; for, motion of religion doth begin with reason ; and fa foon as a man is able to make use of reason and judgment, he ought to put himself upon motion of religion, for we are as capable of religion, as we are of reason ; and indeed no man can use his reason as he ought but religion will be predominant with him, and over-rule all his motions. Solomon faith, Prov., xvi. 3. That the boary head is a crown of glory ; but: how? if it be found in the way of righteousness; that
is, if a man hath used himself all his days, from the time he came to the use of reafon, to the time of old age, in ways of religion, his grey hairs will be a crown of glory to him. 'Tis of great advantage to begin well, for fo faith Solomon, Prov. xxii. 6. Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 'Tis true indeed that some do degenerate ; for these proverbs are not to be taken strictly, but only to signify what is most common and likely, and what is to be expected ; and this is of that nature ; and doth shew a man to be the greater finner if he depart from a good way that he was early brought into. For we eafily do what we have been bred unto, and used to do. It is true, that serious repentance, wheresoever it is, doth alter the case ; but then you must know, that late repentance is feldom true ; and this I am very sure of, that there is little or no proof of late repentance, because there is not opportunity to act. And they do mightily abufe themselves, that put off their repentance with hopes of being like the penitent thief, who begun ill, but ended well. But
pray consider, that this was an extraordinary case, a miraculous work of God's grace; and such as we cannot expect the like again, till the Saviour of the world shall come again, and fuffer.
And the apostle tells us, that there can be no more sacrifice for fin than that which hath been already offered. Others there are that do abuse that passage in the xx. of Mat. where we read, that the Lord of the vineyard went forth to hire labourers into his vineyard, and took some at the last hour of the day. But here I will observe four things
1. That they which were hired late, stood all. that time in the market-place in expectation.
2. They were no sooner hired, and appointed, but they went into the vineyarda
3. They had no plea at all for the wages of a day. For it was said unto them, I will give you what is right. Not the wages of a day : that was left whol- .. ly to the Lord's good pleasure.
4. It was beyond their expectation, or at least beyond the common ground of expectation. And we find their fellow-labourers were not satisfied in it, that they should have the recompence of a days work when they had not done the work of a day. Therefore let us not be so much mistaken, as to think we may defer the work of repentance, and making provision for eternity, till the last. They which do so, little understand what sanctification imports ; what reconciliation with the nature, mind, and will of God, and the law of heaven, doth signify. No less than this can we understand by it, to glorify God by a holy and unblameable conversation, and to do good, and serve God in our generations. For heaven is more a state and temper, than a place. That for the first : sooner and later are not alike.
II. Times of ignorance and of knowledge, are not alike : for, the time of ignorance, that is as the night, in which no man can work, John iv. 4. And the apostle tells us, Aets xvii. 30. That, these times of ignorance God winked at. And that if they had been blind, they should have had no fin, John ix. 41. which you are not to understand absolutely, that those that are ignorant and stupid are not guilty ; but that they
are not so great finners as those which pretend to know. And therefore it is said, that their sin remaineth, that is, it doth remain with all manner of aggravation. For you cannot say more or worse of any man, than that he doth evil knowingly, and against his conscience. It is universally acknowledged, that ignorance doth greatly excuse, and therefore we have charity for idiots; and where men have never heard and are without the pale of the church, we leave thein to God’s mercy, and exclude them not. But it is quite otherwise where men are a law to themselves, as the apostle speaks, Rom. ii. 14.
There are three things in which every man that is born into the world, and hath the use of reason, is a law unto himself; and if he do not observe that law in those particulars, he will be self-condemned and neither himself nor any other man can justify him.
1. As to the point of fabriety and temperance. That we do moderate our appetites, and not abuse ourselves, through exceffive and inordinate use of the things of this life.
2. A man is a law to himself as to justice and righteousness. And he will be self-condemned if he do not use fairness and equal dealing with other men: fuch as he would himself receive from others, he is obliged to give. If a man fail in these particulars, he goes againft the law that is connatural to him, and would be self-condemned though he had no other revelation from God, and had never heard of the bible. 3. A man is a law to himself in respect of that
fear and reverence which he owes to God. For a man knows nothing more certainly, than that he was not original to his own being, and that he did not make himself ; but that he was brought into being by fome agent, that was more able, wife, and powerful than himself. For he that knows how unable he is to continue himself in being, cannot but know that he did not bring himself into being but that he owes his being to another ; and that he ought to fear, reverence, and adore him from whom he received it, and if he do it not , he mustcondemn himself. Therefore I am sure there is no man shall be condemned by God, that is not first condemned by himself, in someorother of these particulars that I have named. In some other, and leffer matters, there may be invincible ignorance, and this inay excuse in those particulars; but in the great matters of religion and conscience, there is no invincible ignorance. If men are at any loss as to these things I have named ; their ignorance is affected, and 'tis through gross self-neglect, and practice contrary to knowledge. And in these cases their guilt is aggravated, and their case is not compaffionable. And that for the second. Times of ignorance, and the times of knowledge are not alike.
III. Before and after voluntary commission of sin, is not alike, upon a spiritual account. It is not imaginable the loss that a man sustains by consenting to iniquity ; how much he spoils his principle, mars his spirit, and spoils his parts. This
you knowledged in the counsel of Achitophel, which he gives to Abfalom, which is called the good counsel of