« FöregåendeFortsätt »
and tormented, though God hath forsaken him; because self-preservation is an inseparable principle of nature.
AND Now, the result and sum of this whole argument is this: That in order to the obtaining of eternal happiness hereafter, it is an excellent way, to be bettering our spiritual state every day in some respect and proportion. For the work a man hath to do, is great and difficult, and that which requires every day's care and diligence of him, especially if evil customs have got the start, and are beforehand with him. Nature alone is hard to be rectified; and a constant tenor of diligence is necessary to transform it so, as to make it represent the divine nature. But when evil habits also are to be contended and grappled with, every day's resolution and activity is little enough to conquer them as they should be conquered; that faith and virtue may carry the day, and triumph over them. Either they must be daily refifted, or most certainly they will get ground of us daily; And what people's
negligence will turn to at last, in old age, or upon a death-bed, God alone knoweth infallibly. It is not likely a man should be able to destroy that at his last hour, or in the time of weakness, which he fuffered to gather and grow to a great head in the days of health and vigour. More likely it is, that God will punish such negligence with utter forfaking, and with hardness of heart; against which no sufficient or sure provifion can be made, but by hearkening to his voice, while it is called to-day...
Let us therefore remember the advice of those ancient heathens I fpake of, who would have us to resolve and fix upon a good rule of virtue, (and none can pretend to be so good, as what our bleffed Saviour hath given us all); and 'every day examine our consciences, what we have omitted, and what we have done; what prayers we have offered up unto the Father of lights; what offices of righteousness, mercy, and goodness we have performed 'to men; what good we have done to our own fouls; what inordinate and irregular desires we have mortified; what pafsions
we have commanded and subdued; how low we have brought every lofty imagina: tion; how far we have put away all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, with all malice; wherein we have imitated the life of our blessed Saviour, who facrificed his own life for us; and to what degrees we have perfected our nature, unto a likeness of the adoreable perfections of the ever-blessed God, whose great and tender mercies are over all his works.
True religion doth not confist, in formal shews and professions, but in those divine endowments of soul, which make us approach nearer to the glories of our Maker. And by, taking ourfelves thus to account every night, we shall the better difcern, what we are to implore God's pardon and affiftance for, against the day following; wherein we have been wanting: what des fects we are to make up: what is to be the principal business of the next day; what graces we are to improve; what we are to practise, and what we are to avoid. In Thort, we fall easily know how, and be
easily calily able indeed, to redeem our lost times because it will be little, if due care and dia ligence be used every day.
By this method we may soon také an honest account of our actions s our repentance will be renewed day by day; the care we ought to have of our immortal souls will continually abide with us, and reft upon our minds; our heart and ways will be always under our own watchful eye as well as God's; the assistances and comforts of God's Spirit we shall never be without; there will be no room for those vicious habits, which bring others at last almoft to an impoffibility of repenting ; it will be impossible for them ever to be fixt, or to take root; hardly will an hour in any one day be quite lost; I am sure, à long tract of time will be saved, which is utterly dropt and forgotten by those, who leave all to the fad after-reckonings of a death-bed : The great mischief then is, that it is out of their power to recover their losses, though their hearts should earnestly desire it; so many months and years are impof. fible to be recalled ; and all this calamity 7
comes from the want of some diligence every day; it is men's great negligence as to this particular, that postpones the whole business of their falvation, and hinders that continual progress and proficiency, whereby otherwise they might have grown in grace unto a more perfect state, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Wherefore let us exhort one another daily, whilst it is called to-day; left any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of fin.