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(1.) Improve a season of the gospel. Some sermons have of late been the last to them that heard them. Some heard the sermon on the Lord's day in health, that were in eterpity ere the next Sabbath. This says, Hear ye every day as if it were to be your last.
(2.) Improve temporal mercies, lest God be provoked to take them from you. Health and strength, and other temporal conveniences, are to be wisely managed, for ye see we have no tack of them, Eccl. ix. 10.
3. To be upon your guard, and manage sickerly for eternity, while you live. Remember the parable of the wise and foolish builder, and how apt ye are to play the fool in these matters, while health and strength lasts.
(1.) Beware ye be not cheated out of your most yaluable interests, by a deceitful heart, a treacherous world, and a wily devil. Satan goes about many a poor simple one, till they are tricked of their souls, their part of Christ and heayen, and all the happiness of another world, Matth. xvi. 26. And wherefore do they part with them, but for the gratify. ing of a lust, which is a practice more foolish than if one should
part with an estate for a childish toy. So did Esau. Wherefore be wise in time.
(2.) Beware the best bargain slip not through your fingers, while ye are pursuing vanities, Prov. xvii. 16. Alas! there are not a few, who, being busied with vanities of this world, which pass away with the using, miss the opportunity of making the treasure hid in the field of the gospel their own. Therefore be wise.
(3.) Beware of feeding yourselves with dreams and fancies, wherein there is no reality. There are many foolish vir. gins with lamps without oil, and foolish builders on the sand, There are many whose life is but one continued dream, wherein they judge aright of nothing, neither God, heaven, hell, or the world. So that their awakening cannot be but terrible. But be ye wise,
4. To prepare timeously for death and judgment, Matth. xxiv. 44. It is certain that naturally we are quite oụt of case for that great change: and, alas! we are naturally unwilling to think of it, or provide for it. But necessity has no law, We must die; and we must either be provided for death, or we are ruined; and if we be not timely provided, our candle
be put out ere our work be done.
(1.) Get habitual preparation for death, in a gracious state, Rom. viii. 1. Be sure to get out of the state of nature into the state of grace. And then come death when it wili, it will but transport you into the state of glory. And there are two things here to be secured.
[1.] Get your title to heaven fixed. None will get thither but those who have a right to it, Mat. xxv. 34. 2 Cor. V. 1. To others the door will be cast in their face. But, ye may say, how may we get a title to heaven? Ans. Marry the Heir, and heaven shall be your dowry. The everlasting covenant is offered to you in the gospel, God to be your God in Christ, and Christ to be yours in all his offices. Therefore make a solemn deliberate transaction with God this night, embracing Christ in the covenant, and consenting to it, with an eye to death and eternity.
[2.] Get a fitness for heaven wrought in you, Col. i. 18. For ye cannot be meet for it, till your nature be changed. How may we get that fitness? may ye say. Ans. Believe and embrace Jesus Christ, for his spirit of sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30. There is a fulness of the Spirit in him to be communicated, and faith must eye Christ for his sanctifying Spirit. Put off the old man, and put on the new man: be new creatures, and let old things pass away, and all things become new. In vain do men pretend to faith without this, 2 Cor. v. 17. and in vain will men look for heaven without it, John iii. 3.
This is habitual preparation, which whoso have, if they should be struck dead in a moment, or immediately seized with deliriousness, and die raving, yet they are safe ; for . there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Je. sus,' Rom. viii. 1.
(2.) Get actual preparation for death, in a gracious frame for dying, that ye may die comfortably.
[1.] Make speed with your generation-work. Whatever piece of work is put in your hand, for God's honour, dis. patch it with all expedition, Matth. xxiv. 46. for if
de lay it, ye may loose the opportunity for ever.
[2.] Be habitually tender in your life, Acts xxiv. 16. And beware of any standing controversy betwixt God and you ; for if there be any such, it will readily stare you in a dying hour.
[3.] Be weaned froin the world, and hold a loose grip of all you have in it, that it may drop like Joseph's mantle.
(4.) Keep waking and watchful, Luke xii. 36. Be much in the thoughts of death, and the life to come, that ye be not surprised*.
[5,] Lastly, To prepare for more public and general trials and calamities. This is a piece of wisdom to be learned from such a dispensation. For lesser strokes are usually the forerunners of greater ones.
greater ones. Sodom and Gomorrah were tried with a lesser stroke, ere they were destroyed by fire from heaven, Gen. xiv. 10. And our Lord told the Jews, that unless -they repented, they should perish, Luke xiii. 5.; which threatening was accomplished in the destruction of Jerusalem. The day may yet come, wherein men shall praise the dead, that are already dead; and they may miss this stroke, włıq arne reserved for a worse, and shall meet with it ere all be done. In a time when the cup of God's anger is going through a land, they that drink first usually fare best. How .ave we to prepare ? may ye say. Ans. Keep your garments -clean from the sins and snares of the day, and place where ye live, and take up your lodging in the sure and unaltera.ble covenant of grace, and then no evil shall betal yoų.
TWO FORMS OF PERSONAL COVENANTING BY THE AUTHOR.
[As Mr Boston, has in his writings accurately explained the nature, and warmly inculcated the duty and necessity, of personal covenanting, or explicit entering into, or renewing covenant with God, by taking hold of God's covenant of grace ; it will not be improper to subjoin the two fol. loving specimens of that folemn transaction in his own practice : the first, dated August 14, 1699, a little before his ordination to the miniftry; the other, dated December 2, 1729, about two years and five months before his death. Both are priuted from the original copies.]
Mr Thomas Boston, preacher of the gospel of Christ,
being by nature an apostate from God, an enemy to the great JEHOVAH, and so an heir of hell and wrath, in myself
* See these directions amplified and illustrated in the Fourfold State, Rate 4. head 2. title, Directions how to prepare for Death.
utterly lost and undone, because of my original and actual Cuch
sins, and misery thereby; and being, in some measure, made sensible of this my lost and undone state, and sensible of my
need, my absolute need of a Saviour, without whom I must trials perish eternally; and believing that the Lord Jesus Christ,
the eternal Son of the eternal God, is not only able to save fore me, by virtue of his death and sufferings, but willing also to tried save me (though most vile and ugly, and one who has given her him many repulses), both from my sins, and from the load unles of wrath due to me for them, upon condition that I believe, which come to him for salvation, and cordially receive him in all
his offices ; consenting to the terms of the covenant: Therefore, as I have at several opportunities before given an express and solemn consent to the terms of the covenant, and
have entered into a personal covenant with Christ ; so now, going being called to undertake the great and weighty work of the
ministry of the gospel, for which I am altogether insufficient, I do by this declare, That I stand to and own all my
former engagements, whether sacramental, or any other way whatsoever, and now again do RENEW my covenant with God; and hereby, at this present time, do solemnly COVENANT and ENGAGE to be the Lord's and make a solemn resignation and upgiving of myself, my soul, body, spiritual and temporal concerns, unto the Lord Jesus Christ, without any reservation whatsoever; and do hereby give my voluntary consent to the terms of the covenant laid
down in the holy scriptures, the word of truth; and with my heart and soul I TAKE and RECEIVE Christ in all his offices, as my PROPHET to teach me, resolving and engaging in his strength to follow, that is, to endeavour to follow, his instructions: I TAKE him as my Priest, to be saved by his death and merits alone;, and renouncing my own righteousness as filthy rags and menstruous cloths, I am content to be clothed with his righteousness alone ; and live entirely upon free grace ; likewise I TAKE him for my ADVOCATE and INTERCESSOR with the Father : And, finally, I take him as my KING, to reign in me, and to rule over me, renouncing all other lords, whether sin or self, and in particular my predominant idol; and in the strength of the Lord, do resolve and hereby engage, to cleave to Christ as my Sovereign Lord and King, in death and in life, in prosperity and in adversity, even for ever and to strive and wrestle in his strength against all known sin; protesting,
that whatever sin may be lying hid in my heart out of my view, I disown it, and abhor it, and shall in the Lord's strength, endeavour the mortification of it, when the Lord shall be pleased to let me see it. And this solemn covenant I make as in the presence of the ever-living, heart-searching God, and subscribe it with my hand, in my chamber, at Dunsé, about one o'clock in the afternoon, the fourteenth day of August, One thousand six hundred and ninety-nine years.
A SECOND PERSONAL COVENANT.
LORD, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I confess from my heart, that I am by nature a lost and undone sinner, wholly corrupted, and laid under the curse, in Adam, through the breach of the covenant of works; and have ruined myself more and more by my innumerable actual transactions, whereby my whole life appears in mine eyes this day a heap of vanity, sin, and foolishness. I am fully convinced, and do from my heart acknowledge, that I am utterly unable to help myself, in whole or in part, out of this gulf of sin and misery, into which I am plunged; and that it is beyond the reach of the whole creation to help me out of it; so that I must inevitably perish for ever, if thine own strong hand do not make help to me.
But forasinuch as there is a covenant of grace, for life and salvation to lost sinners, established between Thee and thine own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as second Adam ; wherein, upon condi. tion of his fulfilling all righteousness, which is now performed, in his having been born perfectly holy, lived altogether righteously, and made perfect satisfaction to justice by his death and sufferings, thou hast promised that thou wilt be their God, and they shall be thy people, to the making of them holy and happy for ever; and that this covenant is, in Christ the head thereof, offered and exhibited to me in thy gospel, and thou callest me into the fellowship thereof, in