C. Alston R. P. D. Hen. Episc. Lond. à sacris Domesticis.

THE First Fruits OF REASON: OR, A DISCOURSE Shewing The Necessity of applying our selves betimes to the serious Practice of Religion.

By Anthony Horneck D. D. Preacher at the Savoy.

LONDON: Printed by F. Collins, for D. Brown at the Black Swan and Bible without Temple-bar; and are to be sold by John Weld at the Crown between the Temple-gates in Fleet-street. 1686.


THE following Discourse was occasioned by a young Man's being unfortunately kill'd in Bartholomew Fair, whose Friends, led partly by natural Af­fection, partly by [Page] love to the young Mans Vertues, were pleas'd to desire me to preach a Sermon at his Funeral, and because they would thereby be servicea­ble to the living, and more especially to men of the same age with the Deceased, entreated me to pitch upon the Text which appears in the front of the ensuing [Page] Treatise. Having gratified their desire in that particular, they gave me some Motives and Argu­ments to publish it, which I could not well resist. But the Discourse, as it was deliver'd at St. Sepul­chres Church on the 20 of September being too short to make a­ny thing like a Book of it, I resolved upon [Page] second thoughts to enlarge it, and with these enlargements & additions it comes now abroad; though in an age so fertile of excellent Sermons, I might be discoura­ged from adding any of mine own, yet since every man in his station is bound to contribute to the common Interest of Religion; having [Page] this opportunity, I was willing to em­brace it, because it's possible, that some or other who lights up­on these Papers, may think of the Contents, and by the assistance of the divine Spirit, be perswaded early to consecrate himself to unfeigned and impartial Devotion. The great debau­chery and looseness [Page] of the Youth of this Age, is enough to oblige us, and a suf­ficient call to do all we can to stem the floud of Impiety, which rages so much in the younger sort, and proves too of­ten the occasion both of their tem­poral and eternal ru­ine. All I shall add is this, to entreat the Reader to become a [Page] Supplicant with me at the Throne of Grace, that both this and other mens en­deavors of this kind, may prove ef­fectual to recal both young and old from the errours of their ways, and that God (as it is our Li­turgy) would shortly accomplish the number of his Elect, that we with all those who are depar­ted [Page] in the true Faith may have our perfect consum­mation and bliss in his Eternal and Everlasting Glory.

THE First Fruits of Reason.

ECCLES. 12.1.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.

THis Book of Ecclesiastes is generally looked upon as Solomon's recantation Ser­mon, in which he renounces his former Follies, and having seen the vanity of the world, and the pleasures of it, like a man come to himself again, aspires to nobler de­lights, and after a woful fall, lifts up his sinking head, and beholds, and re-embraceth the true and glorious liberty of Gods Children. Curiosity had led him not onely into a search of Nature, but into [Page 2] that of Sin and Impiety too; and while Greatness, and Riches, and a sawning Court flattered him with power to do what he pleased, he at once forgot the baseness of his slavery, and over-looked the hei­nousness of his Iniquity: As if it had been too mean for a Soveraign Prince to commit puny sins, he transgressed above the ordinary rate of Mortals, and if it be true what the Jewish Rabbins say, that his inquisitive humour made him even venture upon the mystery of the black art, it's like, that, together with his fondness of Heathenish Women, enticed him to Idola­try. If this Book be his peniten­tial Monument, we may believe his Repentance was great, and sig­nal, and that after this, his Cloathing was Sackloth, and he mingled his drink with weeping. Sins of a deep dye require profound Contri­tion; [Page 3] and it is impossible to be tru­ly sensible of monstrous, and un­paralell'd Ingratitude, and not to express that sence by very visible and eminent Humiliations. One great Character of true Repentance, is a hearty endeavour after the Con­version of others, and this excellent sign we find in this Convert or re­turning Prodigal. For not to mention the Counsel he gives to all degrees of men in the forego­ing Chapters; in that before us, his kindly Calls and Admonitions to young men, speak a [...] Ko­heleth, or a Soul earnestly desi­rous to gather all men into the Sheepfold of Grace and Mercy. And of these Calls that in my Text, is not the least: Remember now thy Creator in thy days of thy youth.

By way of Explication, I shall [Page 4] only tell you First, That what we render here in the days of thy youth, [...] is in the O­riginal in the days of thy Choice. So youth is called.

1. Because in that Age man chuseth his Employment, and when he first enters upon the Stage of the World, after he comes from under Tutors and Governours, he determines, what Calling, or Pro­fession he shall take to.

2. Because in that Age particu­larly, when Reason exerts its full strength, God sets the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil before us, Hea­ven and Earth, Paradise and the World, Righteousness and Sin, Life and Death, and leaves us to our choice, according to which our portion and reward will be, when [Page 5] the Soul appears before Gods dread Tribunal.

Secondly, As our youth is the Age wherein a Choice must needs be made, so the Wiseman here bids us chuse, remembring our Creator. Which the Chaldee Paraphrast ex­pounds, Remember thy Creator so as to glorifie him in the days of thy youth, which Paraphrase is so sound, that we need not search out for another interpretation; for as the serious practice of Religion is meant by that Remembrance, so that pra­ctice, is in a manner nothing else but glorifying God in our Souls and Bodies, called so by the Apostle 1 Cor. 6.20. And Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, saith our Saviour, Joh. 15.8. Nor need we wonder how God can be glorified by Fruits of righ­teousness [Page 6] that we bring forth▪ For as these point at the Sun which warms them into being, or at God, by whose Word, and Power, and Influence they grow, and ripen, and come to perfection, so they proclaim the glory of his Grace, and discover how kind, how mer­ciful, how bountiful, and how liberal that Supreme Being is in bestowing such gifts on men, gifts which Nature cannot confer, nor Angels distribute, nor the greatest Monarchs impart to their Favo­rites. And hereby the happy per­son, whose life bears such Fruits is encouraged to glorifie the spring and Fountain of them. Others also, that see them, and receive comfort or benefit by them, can­not but adore and admire the Di­vine Goodness, which is pleased to display its glory in such commu­nications of his Holiness; and as [Page 7] Angels rejoyce at a sinners Con­version here on earth, so they cannot but magnifie and glorifie God for the fruits, and good works which after their Conversion such men bring forth. Those mini­string Spirits are entirely intent upon Gods Glory, and the greater the number is of those that con­tribute to Gods Glory, the greater is their joy, and with their Joy, their Praises, and celebrations of the Divine Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness, are advanced.

This being premised, it will be easie to guess at the subjects of the ensuing Discourse, which if we follow the Text close, can be no other than these.

1. What it is to remember God; for that's implied here.

2. What force there is in remem­bring [Page 8] God under the notion of our Creator.

3. Why the strict observance of these two Lessons is particu­larly necessary in the days of our youth?

First, What it is to remember God.

1. So to remember his Omni­science and Omnipresence, as to stand in awe of him: For this is no speculative, but a practical Re­membrance. The Name of God speaks his being present in all pla­ces, and knowing whatever pas­ses in Heaven and in Earth. A truth which even the wiser Hea­thens were sensible of; and when they said, that Jovis omnia plena, that all places were full of the Supreme Deity, no doubt they meant, that [Page 9] God was present in Heaven by his Glory, on Earth by his Provi­dence, and in Hell by his Justice; that above us he stands as Judge, under us as our Supporter, and on both sides of us as an Assessor and Speculator of our actions whether they be good or evil. So that he who remembers God, must neces­sarily remember his Omniscience, and Omnipresence; and in vain are these remembred, except we stand in awe of him. And this was it, which God thought fit to put among the first Lessons he gave to Abraham his friend, Gen. 17.1. I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be perfect. i. e. Behave thy self in all places, like a person sensible of an all-seeing Eye above him, like one who be­lieves God sees him, and hears him, and is not far from him; that knows his down-sitting and [Page 10] his uprising, and understands his thoughts afar off! This Remem­brance is a necessary and essential part of the fear of God, and he that lays this Remembrance by, will stick at no sin he can commit with safety, without exposing his Credit, or Honour, or Interest. This Remembrance is a bridle for our Lusts, and he that sees God, where ever he walks or sits, or stands or lies, will not be easily ta­ken with the beauty of sin and vanity. It was therefore an inge­nious, as well as a religious reply, which St. Ephrem made to the Harlot, who enticed him to be naught with her, and was very ur­gent with him to assign her a place where she should meet him. In the Market-place, saith he, tomorrow at Noon-day. Fye, an­swered the Harlot, are not you a­shamed to be taken notice of of [Page 11] men, that will pass by, and see us. To this, St. Ephrem: Art thou a­sham'd to be seen by men, and dost thou not blush to venture up­on this villany in the sight of God? Can the eyes of men make thee afraid, and is the revenging Eye of God no disswasive from thy wickedness?

2. To Remember God, is so to remember his Goodness, his Mer­cies, and gracious Providences, as to live a life of love and grati­tude. We cannot name God, but we must understand by that ex­pression, one from whom every good and perfect gift descends, by whom all creatures are fed, maintain'd, and cherished, and preserved; who opens his hand, and filleth, the de­sire of every living thing, and to whom we in particular are behol­ding for all the necessaries, conve­niencies, [Page 12] accommodations, and su­perfluities we enjoy. But this remembrance is insignificant, and like sounding Brass and a tinkling Cymbal, except it touches the Heart, with a strong desire and en­deavour of gratitude. Kindnes­ses like fire must give heat, and as among men he is supposed not to remember what such a great man hath done for him, that shews him no respect, or doth what is preju­dicial to his Honour and Interest, so God looks upon him as a per­son that remembers neither him, nor his Mercies, in whom this re­membrance works no earnest care to please him. And whatever the pretences of remembring may be, where it doth not influence the life, nor produces love in the in­ward and outward man, it's Con­tempt, not Remembrance, Hypo­crisie, not Gratitude. He proper­ly [Page 13] remembers God, that takes no­tice of his Works, and the opera­tions of his Hands, sees his Fin­ger in the blessings he enjoys, and clings to his great Benefactor with ardent affections, that never thinks of his goodness without admira­tion, and whenever he considers how kind God hath been to him, ruminates in his mind with David, What reward shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? Psal. 116.12. It was therefore with respect no doubt to this practical acknow­ledgement that the same Psalmist gives this exhortation, Psal. 105.5. Remember ye his marvellous works, the wonders and the judge­ments of his wrath. They that heretofore painted the Graces with hand in hand, intimated, that one good turn requires another, and to neglect such returns among men, hath ever been counted o­dious [Page 14] Monster hath been the best name that hath been given to such persons in all Ages, and therefore none can suppose, that the neglect of them with respect to God, our kindest friend, will pass for a to­lerable infirmity. He that doth not return acts of love upon the remembrance of Gods preserva­tions, deliverances, and munifi­cence, will have the whole World and his own Conscience to boot for his accusers, and the crime is inexcusable, because the wretch e­ludes the force of the greatest charms, and the strongest motives to Love and reciprocal Affecti­on.

3. To remember God, is so to remember his Laws, and injuncti­ons, as to yield actual obedience. He that acknowledges a God, must acknowledge him to be the gover­nour [Page 15] of the World, and conse­quently that he governs by Laws agreeable to his greatness, and Ho­liness; and therefore when God tells the Israelites, how they should remember him, he chuses to word it thus: Remember ye the Law of my servant Moses, which I comman­ded him in Horeb, with all the sta­tutes and judgements. Mal. 4.4 Gods Laws would signifie nothing, if they were not intended, as a rule for his Subjects, and the imper­tinency of remembring God, as our Law-giver, without suitable obedience, is sufliciently shewn in that expostulation of Christ, Luke 6.46. Why call ye me Lord, and do not do the things which I say. Won­derful was the care God took, that the Jews should remember his injunctions. They were not only to be in their Frontlets and Wrist-bands, but the Fathers of [Page 16] their respective Families, were commanded to teach them dili­gently unto their Children, to talk of them when they were sit­ting in their houses, and when they walked by the way, and when they lay down, and when they rose again. They were to write them also upon the Posts of their Houses, and upon their, Gates, Deut. 6.7, 8, 9. And what could be the design of it, but to shew, that in vain we remember him, except we remember his Laws so as to be ruled and governed by them. And therefore we may just­ly conclude, that he who being tem­pted either to uncleanness, or drun­kenness, or lying, or injustice, or dissembling, or Pride, or ill-lan­guage, or neglect of Alms, and Prayer, and consideration of his ways, remembers the words of the Lord, and what God hath said [Page 17] in his Gospel, and trembles at it, and bids the Devil depart from him, will be applauded in Heaven for an admirable Memory more, than if with Themistocles he could tell all the names of the Citizens of Athens; or with Mithridates remember two and twenty Lan­guages. To arrive to such a re­membrance, there is no need of studying the art of Memory. The Laws are generally known: The application is all in all; and he that knowing his Masters will ap­plies the rules of it to the parti­cular actions of his life, and by them regulates his thoughts, and desires, and words, and actions, is the happy man that remembers God to the comfort and edifica­tion of his Soul. And to all this, he will be engaged more readily if he remembers that God is his Creator, which brings in the se­cond point.

[Page 18]Secondly, What force there is in remembring God under the notion of our Creator.

1. To remember God as our Cre­ator, is to think of him as the Au­thor of our being and well being, that we have nothing we can claim as our own, and that all we are and have is his charity; that ori­ginally he did frame us of nothing, and by and in him we live and breath, and move in the sphere appointed for us. That we as well as the vast Fabrick of the world, are the product of his ex­uberant goodness, and that all things in Heaven and in Earth were formed by the word of his power. He that seriously thinks of this, will think no service too costly, no Incense too sweet, no Present too great, no Sacrifice too [Page 19] pretious to lay upon his Altar. He that raises a Slave out of dust, and advances him to an honou­rable employment, expects he should think nothing too good for the promoting of his interest, who hath so generously lifted him up from the Dunghil, much more may he, that speaks a creature from nothing into being, and gives him a view of all the glorious things, his powerful hand hath wrought, which he must have been forever ignorant of, if he had continued in the shades of nothing. He that creates gives all that the Creature hath; and it's hard, if he that makes the Tenant and gives him Lands and Houses, may not reserve to himself a quit-rent, or a Pepper-corn rather, as an ac­knowledgement, that the Crea­ture is the Usufructuary of his pos­sessions. All the service man can [Page 20] do, or that God requires of us, is nothing but a small and inconsi­derable Rent, our great Land­lord reserves, whereby we may own him the Maker and Author of our welfare. Creation imports, that we are made for his glory, and a wonderful dignity it is, that God will make use of such poor worms to promote and advance his glory. To be made for his glory, and to dishonour him; to receive our breath on purpose that we may shew forth his praise, and to act, as if we had no relation to him, are things inconsistent, and imply a contradiction. He denies that he hath his being from God, that will not consecrate himself to do him service, and is an Infidel un­der the divine influence, while he refuses to hearken to his Counsels. It was therefore a very rational in­ference [Page 21] which David made, Psal. 100.2, 3. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God, it is he that hath made us, and not we our selves, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

2. To remember God as our Creator, is to be importunate with him to create in us clean hearts, and to renew right spirits within us, that we may be capable of conversing with him forever. The innocence which the first creation gave us, was lost and tarnished by the Fall. The glory of righteous­ness and holiness in Paradise, the joy of Angels, and the envy of Devils, went off, and vanished with our Apostacy, and only some ruines of it do remain, to shew how bright and splendid our Souls [Page 22] were in that state. Hence comes a natural proneness to evil, and that sinful inclination prompts us to greater contempt of God. Hence it is, that an aversion from goodness sits heavy on our Souls, and when we would do good, e­vil is present wi [...]h us, and in this state we cannot please God; this is the bar which forbids access to his Throne; and the Soul that con­tinues in this condition to the end, is out of all hopes of ever enjoying his beatifick presence in Heaven. This misery discovers the necessity of a new Creation, the rather, be­cause with God neither Circumci­sion availeth any thing, nor Vncir­cumcision, but a new creature, Gal. 6.15. When I say, a new Crea­tion, I do not mean it of new Fa­culties, but of new Qualities and Endowments of a new byass, and bent, and inclination of our bet­ter [Page 23] part; and this is the work of God, and to effect it, the same power must be employed that spoke the World into being; for as there, so here the Chaos and the shapeless matter must be separated and divided, the power of dark­ness dissipated, and a new Light must [...] our Understandings, a Light whereby spiritual things and th [...] excellency, necessity, and t [...]endency above subluna­ry comforts may be discerned, and the Soul look into things that are not seen. The Spirit of God must move here too, and upon waters too, even on the waters of repen­tance, and penitential Tears. This Spirit must supple, and warm, and cherish the feeble parts, make the Soul brisk and agile, and ready unto every good word and work, and a new face of all things must appear, new Thoughts, new De­sires, [Page 24] new Breathings, new No­tions, a new Language, new De­lights, and new Affections too. The sins that were loved before, must be hated now; and the Fol­lies which caused laughter, must now cause grief and sorrow. And this new Creation God is ready to bestow, if our earnest Addres­ses knock at Heaven Gate. The Soul that watches at his door, shall not be sent away empty; he that is able to create this new Heart, hath promised it too, if our lazi­ness and love of the world, and contempt of the mercy, doth not discourage him. So that to re­member our Creator, is not onely to reflect upon his power, but our duty too.

3. To remember our Creator, is to think, that he who hath crea­ted a Heaven for the tractable and [Page 25] docile, and sincere, hath created a Hell too, where he means to lash the stubborn and impenitent man. This Solomon alludes to in the last Verse of this Chapter, where he tells us, that God shall bring every work into judgement with every se­cret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Tophet is or­dain'd of old, saith the Prophet, Isai. 30.33. And when God pro­vided Mansions sweet and pleasant for his Favourites, it was but ne­cessary to create and make a Goal too, where the despisers of his grace might to eternal Ages be­wail the loss of infinite and eter­nal mercy; Mercy which now entreats, and courts them, and comes to them in all the soft dres­ses of comfort, and sues to them in the still voice of a tender Fa­ther, offers them Crowns, and Em­pires, and an endless Felicity, lies [Page 26] weeping at their feet, runs after them, pulls them by the sleeve, and beseeches them not to neglect so great Salvation. He that seri­ously thinks of this, surely cannot run into the Devils arms, nor be in love with the broad way, where so many thousands post into Per­dition. These thoughts must needs be great motives to prevent the accomplishment of Gods threat­nings, who will not let that Pri­son he hath created stand empty, when so many do deserve it, and in despight of all his endeavours to the contrary, run into it, and make haste to be miserable. The Creator of all things beholding e­very thing that he had made, saw that all was very good, and there­fore you'll say, surely he did not create a Hell, for that cannot be re­conciled to the Standard of good­ness. But it's one thing what Suf­ferers [Page 27] or Malefactors, and another what Magistrates and Wise men do say. There is scarce a Prisoner but finds fault with his confine­ment. But doth any wise man therefore judge that Prisons are not for the common good, or that they are needless in a Common­wealth? If God were to take ad­vice of men, that make them­selves Vessels of his wrath, not one but would condemn him for ma­king or ordaining a place of tor­ment; but his Justice requires o­ther things, and that's a good At­tribute as well as his Mercy, and punishment makes for his Honour and Glory, as well as his gentle­ness and compassion. He that re­members God as his Creator, must view the everlasting Fire prepa­red for the Devil and his Angels, as well as the house made without hands eternal in the Heavens; and [Page 28] if he do both, he is in the greatest probability of entring into invin­cible resolutions, to shake off the yoak of Ungodliness and world­ly Lusts, that he may be capable, of entring into his Masters joy. But then these resolutions, if they shall be to any purpose, must be made in the days of his youthful vigour, which leads me to the last particular.

Thirdly, Why the strict observance of these two Lessons is particu­larly necessary in the days of our youth.

1. Because sin is more easily mortified, when these motives are applied early in the days of our youth. The load that hinders us from entring in at the strait Gate, may then be thrown off with grea­ter facility than afterward. The [Page 29] tenderer the Branch is, the sooner it is bowed; and the softer the Rust is, the more easily it is scou­red away. Sin in the youthful age, is but in its bud as it were, and therefore more easily nipt; and Corruption not being come to any great hardness yet, is the soo­ner dispersed, and discountenan­ced. The Devil doth but then begin to act his part in the Soul, and therefore is more easily dislod­ged; and though one or two evil Spirits may have already taken up their habitation there, yet the num­ber not being advanced to a Le­gion yet, they may be crushed with greater ease. But sin being by age, as it were, caked and ba­ked together, mocks the Fullers-earth, and the help of Soap and Snow-water. The blackness be­comes purely Ethiopian, and the spots turn into tokens of the Leo­pard, [Page 30] which makes the change more difficult, if not impossible. It's true, some that have streamed out their golden days in voluptu­ousness and luxury, have yet at last proved eminent Saints; but as this is an argument of the extraordi­nary Grace of God, so no conse­quence can be drawn from it, that what God doth for special reasons for some, he will do for all. Some few grow rich after fifty, but that gives but small encouragement to men that do not thrive in the world before; and whatever luc­ky hits some may have, that makes but few expect the like: The sooner the Antidote is applied, the greater hopes there is that the power of the Poison will be weak­ned; and the longer it lies in the bowels, the more difficult grows the cure. This stands to reason, when sins are young, the children [Page 31] of Edom may soon be dash'd a­gainst the stones; but being be­come men of War, they defie all opposition. Habits become a second nature, and when follies are become natural, and mingle with the complexion and Spirits, they are over look'd as harmless, or men despair of rooting of them up. The horrour of any sin goes off by custome, and when men are used to it, they are so far from re­penting that they are apt to look upon themselves as innocent; when Lions are not yet used to range abroad for prey, they may be tamed; but being become lu­sty and strong, all endeavours of cicuration are vain; and though we are told of Androdus his Lion, that grew tame when he was of full age, yet as one Swallow doth not make a Summer, so neither is it advisable to venture into the [Page 32] Sea without skill in swimming, be­cause one or two, ignorant of the art, have been saved from drown­ing by a Miracle. Men give God but little encouragement to em­ploy his miraculous power to con­vert them, when during the vi­gour of their age, they have moc­ked all his Stratagems, and defea­ted his Methods of Compassion, and whatever God hath done up­on extraordinary occasions, and under extraordinary circumstan­ces, we are assur'd by the Psalmist that he sware in his wrath, that they who had grieved him Forty years in the Wilderness should ne­ver enter into his rest, Psal. 95.10, 11.

2. Except a man remember his Creator in the days of his youth, he is not in a likely way to com­pass all those graces which are fit [Page 33] and proper for a Candidate of E­ternity. The vertues which the Holy Ghost faith, are necessary for a Christian, are not to be ac­quired or purchased but by long striving, frequent encountring of Temptations, assiduous labour, and constant endustry, and indefatiga­ble circumspection. Shadows of Graces are compassed in a shorter space, but habits of Goodness are the work of time. One Virtue may possibly be got this year, a­nother the next, another the third. Of Ammonas we read, that he was fourteen years conquering his an­ger and passion, and others have laboured many more before they arrived to a habit of meekness and patience. Before a man can say that he is master of such a Virtue, he must have several tryals, and those tryals, occur not all in one week, or in one month. He that [Page 34] is free from a temptation this year, may have enough of it three years hence. By little conquests way must be made for greater, and he that overcomes his little peevish­nesses for some time, prepares for overcoming bigger affronts and injuries. We read of no Ex tem­pore Saints, and those who have arrived to qualifications which have made them fit for the bliss of ano­ther world, have spent many years to bring themselves to a spi­ritual relish of the power of god­liness. Heaven is not to be gained by a single vertue, but there must be adding unto our faith vertue, unto vertue knowledge, unto know­ledge temperance, unto temperance godliness, unto godliness patience, unto patience brotherly kindness, and unto brotherly kindness charity, 2 Pet. 1.4, 5. He is no Christian that knows not what it is to grow [Page 35] in grace; and when we are to la­bour after perfection, it's evident that we must begin betimes. So that if a man doth not begin this practical remembrance of his Cre­ator in the days of his youth, he hath not time enough to become master of this art, or to commence Graduate in this piece of Philoso­phy.

3. This early remembrance of the Great Creator invites the early manifestations of Gods love, and is the Key to the choisest comforts and consolations. Of all the A­postles St. John alone is called the Disciple whom Jesus loved. He lo­ved them all, but this with greater tenderness than ordinary, because, as most Divines observe, he was the youngest, and in the days of his youth remembred his Masters will and his own duty. When Israel [Page 36] was a child, i. e. when in his tender age he followed me with all his heart, studied my Laws, and walked with God, I loved him, that is with a higher love of com­placency than others, faith God, Hos, 11.1. The youthful David, when in the wilderness he liv'd retired from the world, contemplated things celestial and sublime, made the Creator of all things the darling of his Soul, and found no such de­light any where, as in meditating of Gods testimonies, felt what the kinder influences of Gods Spirit were, and what was the exceeding greatness of his power, whereof that extraordinary assistance he speaks of to King Saul, was a signal testimony: Thy servant kept his fathers sheep, and there came a Lion and a Bear and took a Lamb out of the flock, and I went out after him, and delivered it out of his mouth; [Page 37] and when he arose against me I caught him by his beard, and smote him and slew him, 1 Sam. 17.34, 35. When Joseph's innocence and tender years led him to the fear of God, and made him have that aversion from sin in himself and others, that he told his Father of his brethrens faults; God favour'd him with more than ordinary tokens of his love, which appear'd afterward more visibly, by his making him Vice-Roy of Egypt. Early Fruit is ever most acceptable, and an early remembrance of our Crea­tor comes before him as Incense, smells sweets as the morning Sacri­fice, and vies with the morning Rose for fragrancy.

Practical Inferences.

First, Though we allow not of the Platonick notion, that all our [Page 38] knowledge is nothing but remi­niscence, yet Religion may justly be called a Remembrance of things we knew and heard of before. The lines of good and evil are en­graven upon our hearts. The Finger of God hath written them upon our Souls, and education to­gether with the various Sermons we hear, make these Characters much brighter. So that if at any time we are to abhor that which is evil, or to cleave to that which is good, if we are tempted to a­ctions doubtful and uncertain, whether they be agreeable or disa­greeable to the will of God, it's but remembering what an Almigh­ty hand hath imprinted on our hearts, or what formerly we have treasured up there, and thus we may by the Grace of God resist and overcome the temptation. Nay, if we remember how at [Page 39] such time our Consciences checkt us for such actions, and what re­luctancies we felt, when prompted to the commission. If we remem­ber how at another time our pious Neighbour reproved us for such a fault, told us, it was as affront offered to God, and a snare to ru­ine our immortal Souls. If we re­member how vehemently the Mi­nister of the Ordinances of God declaimed against such a sin, what Arguments he alleadg'd against it, what disswasives he produced, what obtestations and entreaties he used to discourage us from the Of­fence, all this will signally help to restraine us from yielding to the evil motion. For this we need no extraordinary memories we make use of in our civil affairs, when we remem­ber what we did or what hapned such a year, will serve to put us in [Page 40] mind of our duty. It's love to a thing that makes us remember what may contribute to the pro­moting of it. And if our love to Religion were but as strong as it is to our Riches, we should very easily remember the arguments that God and his Ministers have given us to disswade us from the sins we are inclined to. Were we truly concerned for our Souls we should soon remember what we have heard out of the Word of God, and which makes for the practice of the vertues, necessary to salvation. When we are temp­ted to Pride or Anger, if we did but remember how we have hated these sins in others, and how odi­ous they have appeared to us, when we have seen our Neighbours fall into them, it would be a sufficient discouragement from the commis­sion. That we have no memo­ries [Page 41] in this case, is not so much a defect of nature, as our will. We are wilfully forgetful of our duty, and that makes us excuse the neg­lect of it; we will not remember our sins, and that tempts us to impenitence. Thus we cheat our Souls, and that's but an ill prepa­rative for the tremendous audit at the Bar of Gods Justice. The day will come when we shall remem­ber our offences and neglects whe­ther we will or no. There is not a sinner now, who willingly forgets what he hath been going against God and his own Soul, but will be forced to remember it to his cost and sorrow, when an angry God shall look him in the face. And is it not our greatest interest then to remember now in this our day the things which belong unto our peace; to remember our Errours, that we may turn from them; [Page 42] to remember our duties to God and man, that we may conscienciously discharge them; to remember what our Creator, our Father, our greatest Benefactors requires of us; to remember the Exhortations, the Entreaties, the Expostulations, the Adjurations of a merciful God, that the Great Jehovah may re­member us in that day when he makes up his Jewels, and spare us as a man would spare his Son that serves him?

Secondly, There is hardly any place of Scripture that is more vulgarly known than this I have discoursed of; our very Children learn it almost as soon as they can speak, and imbibe it with the or­dinary questions, Who made you? Who redeem'd you? Who sanctifies you? But when men are grown up to just strength, and vigour [Page 43] of Age, it fares with this Motto as it doth with Scripture Sentences written upon Walls in Coun­try Churches; not one in forty minds it. Youth (thus pleads the Age) must have its swing; and what should the sprightly Lad do, but follow his Amours and Vani­ties? The bloud that dances in his Veins prompts him to gayety; and to restrain him in his frollicks, would be to torment him before his time, and looks like an intole­rable affront offered to his bloom­ing years. Young men must be merry; and though that mirth for the most part is nothing but licen­tiousness, yet as extravagant as it is, it is but a trick of youth. Re­ligion is generally accounted only as a proper attendant of the aged and feeble; and when men are un­fit for any business in the world, they then think themselves fit to [Page 44] think seriously of the Kingdom of Heaven. But surely this is no Gospel-Divinity, but a Doctrine taught by the Father of lies the Prince of Devils. Those that can think so, never considered the im­port of Christ's Law, nor the pains the Primitive Believers took to arrive to happiness. The whole Bible is against these dangerous positions, and the Holy Ghost knows of no other Repentance, but what is begun betimes, and prosecuted by a strict obedience. There is not a word of comfort in all the Scriptures for men who have been baptiz'd into Christ and never begin to remember their Creator seriously, till either old Age or a Death-bed refreshes their memories. We read indeed of fruits brought forth in old Age, and those highly commended too; but then it is in such men as have [Page 45] been early planted in the House of the Lord, and flourish in the Courts of our God, like Cedars and Palm­trees, that discovers their early ver­dure and fragrancy, and continue it to the last, Psal. 92.12, 13, 14. And let no man tell me here, that this is to drive old Penitents into despair. No, it's rather a motive to double their pains, to redeem their time, and to give all diligence to make their Calling and Election sure. What should men do who have lost much time, but husband the remainder to the best advan­tage? And indeed if they seri­ously consider what opportunities they have lost, how many years they have thrown away upon things that do not profit; what Calls they have rejected, what checks of Conscience they have baffled, what Mercy, and Love, and Pity they have despised, and [Page 46] how refractory they have been under the most powerful argu­ments that have been suggested to them, they have no reason to loiter much, nor to cry a little more sleep a little more slumber in the ways of sin. They had need pray har­der than other men, and labour more than others, and give grea­ter demonstrations of love and charity than their Neighbours, who have been wise much earlier, that if they cannot arrive to any high degrees of Glory, they may how­ever save themselves from the wrath to come, and from everla­sting burnings.

Thirdly, Hear this all ye, in whose Veins healthful and vigorous bloud doth slow. Fancy you hear the deceased Party here call to you from his Grave, or rather from the Regions of [...], from the [Page 47] other world. Fancy you hear him say, O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn your glory into shame, how long will ye love Vanity and seek after leasing? In this other world, where my Soul is now, the Scene is changed, and all things look with another face. Here all things appear big and dreadful, and in amazing shapes. Here is a glo­rious God, that will not be put off with Forms and Schemes, and lit­tle complemental Devotions, but expects conformity to the Image of his Son, even to the same mind, and temper, and contempt of the world, which was also in Christ Jesus. O flatter not your selves with hopes of easie accounts, or fancies that God will not be so cru­el as to condemn a company of poor Sinners to the bottomless Gulph. Rest assur'd he is no re­specter of persons. He is not [Page 48] frighted by crowds, and numbers, and multitudes from making them feel the weight of his anger. Be advised, be entreated, be perswa­ded to remember your Creator in the days of your youth. O do not put the evil day far from you! Let the great Creator be ever in your minds. Where-ever you are carry his Image in your Bosom, that you may do nothing unwor­thy of his goodness and holiness. Make him your dearest and your greatest treasure. Cling to him as your onely refuge in the evil day. Make it your business to be guided by his Eye, and to be in­structed and governed by his Coun­sel. Be ye not as the Horse and Mule that have no understanding. Be not afraid of any troubles that may befal you upon the account of your obedience. Be confident, he hath rewards infinite, unspeak­able, [Page 49] incomprehensible rewards, to recompense all your losses, though you should lose life it self for his Names sake. Remember your Reason was given you on purpose to remember him. Re­member that therefore he distin­guished you from Bruits and Beasts, that you should think of his will and do it. Remember you are his Creatures, and he your Lord, your Master, your King, and your Supreme Governour. Remember you have not a better friend in all the world than him. Remember with what tenderness and gentle­ness he uses you, what offers he makes you, and how dreadful it will be to undervalue such expres­sions of love. Remember the thousand Deliverances, Preserva­tions, and gratious Providences he hath sent you. Remember the danger you are in. The Devil [Page 50] like a roaring Lyon walks about seeking whom he may devour. You have Enemies on every side of you: All lie in wait to devour you. Remember the veracity of God; he will not vary one tittle from his word. O do not trespass upon his patience any more. A­buse his Mercy and Long-suffer­ing no longer. But let his good­ness lead you to a serious, speedy, and universal Reformation. The Judge is at the door, and seeing that all these things shall be dis­solved, What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conver­sation, and godliness! Should the person deceased appear to you at this time, and preach these Lessons to you, would not you tremble and fear, and stand astonished, and go home, and take care that you might not be barren nor unfruit­ful in the knowledge of our Lord [Page 51] Jesus Christ? Why Sirs? these things are as true, as if a Ghost from the other world did repeat them to you. And if they be e­ternal Truths, O foolish Galathians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been e­vidently set forth, crucified among you? And therefore

Fourthly, If the Remembrance of your Creator cannot melt your hearts, O let the remembrance of your Redeemer make you wiser. Remember what the Son of God hath suffered for you. Remem­ber what Agonies, what Torments, what bitter Scoffs and Reproaches he endured to rescue and free you from the bondage of sin and of the Devil. Remember you are brought with a price, with the precious bloud of the immaculate [Page 52] Lamb. Remember you were bought to be his peculiar people, and bought that you should be your own no more; that you should not live to your selves, but to him that bought you at the ex­pence of his Bloud and Labour. Remember he bled for you. Re­member he laid down his life for you. Remember, greater love can no man shew than that he lay down his life for his friends. Remember he died for you when you were ene­mies. Remember he thought no­thing too good for you. Remem­ber who it was that did all this for you, even the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the eternal Son of God, that could have glorified himself in your endless misery, but would no; and to let you see the exceeding riches of his Grace, humbled himself to the [Page 53] death of the Cross, that the asto­nishing Mercy might work in you a loathing of every weight, and every sin, which doth so easily be­set you. Can you remember all this, and feel no resolutions within, to shew forth the Praises of him who hath called you out of dark­ness into his marvellous light. Can you remember all this and forbear crying out with the Apostle, I count all things dross and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord?

Fifthly, Would we know, how we may lay a foundation for a long and healthy life. The principle here laid down is it. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. In youth we commonly lay the Foundation of future Diseases, which shorten our days, and fill our lives with various Distempers; [Page 54] and while people trespass upon the vigour of their Age, and offer vi­olence to Nature when young, they consider not how by this means they give death an oppor­tunity to enter, and the bloud in that age is commonly so corrupted, that all the Medicines afterward cannot abolish the corruption, or eradicate it out of the Bowels. This early remembrance of God will help to restrain that extrava­gance, and as it contributes to the soundness of the Body, so it cannot but be an excellent preparative for the long continuance of it. Set aside some distracted persons, the desire and endeavour of mankind is to live long. To this end they use Preventives, Preservatives, Ca­tharticks, Diureticks, Emeticks, Restoratives, shun all things that they apprehend noxious, and hear­ken to every little story that di­rects [Page 55] them how to free them­selves from too early approa­ches of fullen death, that King of Terrours. Indeed under violent Pain, or extream Poverty, or into­lerable Disgrace, some do wish for death, but that's only a sudden pas­sion caus'd by the present pressing misfortune, but if that were once over, they would be content with the Collier in the Fable, to carry their burthen, even the burthen of their flesh about them a little lon­ger. We are told of strange en­deavours used in India by the Pa­gan Kings, and the Grandees in their Courts to prolong life. Some do even spend their Patrimonies to find out the Vniversal Medicine, and an Antidote against death; some with Pearls dissolved in the purest Dew of Heaven seek to lengthen out our days; but this remembering our Creator in the days [Page 56] of our youth, will do more than all Drugs and Medicines, more than all the Cordials and Julips in the world, and whatever either the Wisdom or Folly of man hath in­vented to procure longevity. It's evident, that by this remembring our Creator is meant nothing but the Fear of God, for thus Solomon explains himself, v. 13. of this Cha­pter; where to reinforce the ad­monition v. 1. he onely changes the Phrase, but means the same thing, Fear God, and keep his com­mandments, for that's the whole du­ty of man; and to assure us, that this early remembrance of God in the way to long life, he adds, Prov. 10.27. The fear of the Lord pro­longs days. But because this truth is believed but by very few, it will not be amiss to give such demon­strations of it as may convince a­ny rational man of the weight. [Page 57] and moment of it. And

1. The Duties Religion enjoyns, if seriously and conscientiously practised, tend to health and pro­longation of life, as will appear from an induction of particulars. Religion enjoyns Temperance in ea­ting and drinking; and all the world agrees in this, that Tempe­rance is not onely the best Physick, but the best Physician too. Glut­tony, and Drunkenness, and Exces­ses in meat and drink, are fruitful Parents of Diseases, and how men do thereby precipitate themselves into Gouts, Dropsies, Surfeits, Fe­vers, &c, which are great promo­ters of an early death, none can be supposed ignorant. Religion forbids all extravagant Passions, which being let loose hugely debi­litate Nature. It enjoyns Meek­ness, Patience, Contentedness, and [Page 58] a reasonable service; and where the Passions are kept in good order, in all likelihood the temper and frame of the body will be preser­ved in health, and a sweet and ad­mirable harmony. From letting the Passions run beyond their just bounds and limits, innumerable mis­chiefs flow; some by immoderate & inordinate love have kill'd them­selves, others by inordinate An­ger have fallen into Epilepsies: Some by immoderate grief con­sume the marrow in their bones; and History tells us of several, such as Leo X, Pope of Rome, and some Roman Ladies, that have in fits of immoderate laughter expired, and given up the ghost.

Religion forbids all anxious and tormenting cares, and carkings, great enemies certainly to health and life; for they not only make the Bloud stagnate, clog the Spi­rits, [Page 59] hinder a free circulation, but too often have been, and are, the causes of mens laying violent hands upon themselves. This admini­sters Ingredients which make up a good Conscience, and that's a per­petual Feast. It bids us rejoyce in the Lord always, and a constant cheerfulness cannot but be a very great preservative of health, and the vital flame within. It for­bids all Fornication, Adultery, Las­ciousness, and exorbitant Lusts; prescribes the modest and mode­rate use of Marriage, or com­mends perpetual Virginity; all which is very conducive to health and longevity; and this we need not doubt of, when we see men, who give themselves li­berty in hankering after strange Flesh, what work they make for Surgeons and Physicians, how they poison their Bloud, and are so ma­ny [Page 60] walking Graves. Religion prescribes frequent Fasting, and Abstinence, and how beneficial this is to health and a long vigorous life, The examples of the ancient Hermits, and since their time, of other religious men, are ample te­stimonies. Simeon Stylites by this means arrived to the age of 109. Anthony the Great to 105. Paul the first Ascetick to 103. Arsenius to 120. Venerable Bede to 92. Remigius the famous Archbishop of Rhemes (who enjoy'd his Bi­shoprick 70 years, which is more I think than can be said of any man in publick Office for a thou­sand years) to 96. Epiphanius (not the Cyprian Bishop, but ano­ther) to 115. Not to mention any more, and most Historians a­gree in it, that one great means to prolong their years was their spare diet and frequent abstinence, and [Page 61] Fasts in obedience to Religion. Besides, Religion commands Obe­dience, Respect, and Tenderness to Parents, and to that a special blessing of long life is affixed by promise in the fifth Command­ment. Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy days may be long, in the Land which the Lord thy God gives thee. It bids us also shun all apparent occasions of mischief, particularly of evil company, where great rudenesses, insolen­cies, debaucheries, and many times Murthers are committed, to the endangering both of health and life. Add to all this, that Religion doth peremptorily prohibit all ill language, which is too often the unhappy cause of quarrels, strife, fighting, blows, duelling, and as­sassinations, which signally shor­ten the life of man; in allusion to which David tells us, Psal. 34.12, [Page 62] 13. What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. So that if a man remembers his Creator betimes, makes Conscience of the duties Religion prescribes, and continues in doing so, he lays a foundation for a long and healthy life.

2. This early remembrance of God, gives a man a title to Gods special Providence, and what the effect of that is, the Psalmist will inform us, Psal. 91.14, 16. Because he hath set his love upon me, there­fore will I deliver him, with long life will I satisfie him, and shew him my salvation. That there is a spe­cial Providence attending those who fear God, is the unanimous voice of all the inspired Writers; and they all agree in this, that the [Page 63] eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the world, to shew himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is upright toward him, as it is said, 2 Chron. 16.9. And with respect to this special Providence it is that Solomon gives this advice to the Disciple of wisdom, Prov. 3.1, 2. My son forget not my Law, and let thy heart attend unto my commandment, for length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add unto thee. By this special Provi­dence a man is preserved from numberless dangers, which other­wise would crush both health and life. Its this blesses his meat and drink to him, be it more or less, wholesom or unwholesom, re­moves from it what is noxious and pestilential, gives it a nutritive power, and many times preserves him without meat and drink; for man doth not live by bread alone, [Page 64] but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, as we are told Matth. 4.4.

However, this serious remem­brance of our Creator, or which is all one, the fear of God makes a man immortal, more effectually than Books and Monuments, or Pillars, or Tombstones, or Fabricks, or Pyramids. For these onely keep up an empty name; but this conscientious fear makes the man himself immortal. Such a per­son leads a happy life here, and his natural death makes no other alte­ration in that happy life, than that it gives it greater brightness, grea­ter splendour, greater lustre, and adds to it higher degrees of hap­piness. And of this Fear, or seri­ous Remembrance of God, it may be said, as it was of the Bread which came down from Heaven, that it is Meat indeed, and Drink [Page 65] indeed, and he that feeds upon it shall never die. For such a mans Soul, which is the principal part of him, at the end or period of his days here, is onely transplanted into a richer ground, and convey­ed to a nobler Soil, to better Land, to a larger House, to more plea­sant Mansions, and to a more am­ple Theater: And being removed from hence, it doth not change its nature, but onely her abode; from a Prison, from a Cave, from a Cot­tage, from a Dungeon, to a more spacious Pallace, where she hath more Elbow-room, and like a Bird freed from her Cage, acts with greater liberty, and sings with greater cheerfulness. And her Bo­dy too, sleeps onely for a few years, lies down upon a bed of Turf, till the Soul is throughly setled in her new Habitation, and then even that at the sound of the [Page 66] Arch-Angels Trumpet shall awake to a happy immortality, as Christ assures us, Job. 11.26.

And though it's true that ma­ny who sincerely remember their Creator, and fear him, are cut off in the prime and flower of their age, and live but a short time in this world, yet that early remo­val contradicts not the natural tendency of the Fear of God. Still this is the natural course of that stream, and if it met with no ex­traordinary stop, it would certain­ly prolong life even here upon earth. But God for special reasons puts a stop sometimes to its natu­ral course, as he hindred the Sun from going down in Joshua's time, and from shining out at noon-day in our Saviour's time, and the Iron from sinking in Elishah's time, and the Fire from scorching in Nebu­cadnezzar's time, and the greedy [Page 67] Whale from consuming or devou­ring Jonas. These creatures, had they been left to their, natural course, would have acted other­wise; but an Almighty hand in­terposing its power and influence, they were restrained in their natu­ral bent and inclination. So the Fear of God, though its natural tendency be to prolong health and life, yet God doth not so tie him­self to the natural course of things, but that sometimes, for reasons best known to himself, he may and doth make an alteration in that natural tendency: nor is that al­teration any just discouragement from the Fear of God, no more than a mans being sometimes dis­appointed in his designs is a dis­couragement from prosecuting his Trade, or Calling, or Profession. So that when God makes an alte­ration in the natural course or ten­dency [Page 68] of this holy Fear, and cuts off men that conscientiously re­member him, in the prime and slower of their age, it may be ei­ther to advance his own Glory, or to accelerate their happiness, or to keep them from the evil to come, or to chastise their Rela­tives, who were too fond of these outward Comforts, or to wicked men, who as they are by the death of such persons deprived of examples and monitors, and means of grace, so through just Judgement of God, thereby hardned in their sins, which brings on their everlasting misery. Though if we consider the happiness of the next world, in conjunction with this present, as it makes one entire thred or web in a person that truly fears God, still there can be no greater truth than that the Fear of God [Page 69] prolongs life, for it prolongs it to all Eternity. Not to mention that a­bundance of persons who seem to fear God, do fear him very imper­fectly, or not exactly according to the Rules before laid down, which may be the reason, why they do not see this promise fulfilled to them in all the measures of its la­titude.

It is confest, that even men that do not trouble their heads about Religion, Swearers, Drunkards, A­theists, Blasphemers, Beasts and Brutes, live to a prodigious age sometimes without the Fear of God, yet is not therefore the con­scientious man that lives long in the world a loser by his fear; for though he that fears God, and he that lives in contempt of his Laws, do both enjoy the same blessing, even long Life, yet there is a vast difference in the causes of this [Page 70] Blessing; for in the former Blessing comes from a Father's hand, in the other from a Judges In the former it is a gift of love in the other of meer generosity In the former it comes by promise, in the other by a large and diffusive bounty. To the former it is gi­ven, that he may be a blessing to his Neighbours, to the other, that he may be a Scourge and Rod to those who live neer him. In the former it is an effect of vertue in the other of natural constitu­tion. The former receives it be­cause of his universal Obedience the other hath may be done some little inconsiderable service to Gods Church or Servants, which God scorns to leave unrewarded, and as the service will bear no big­ger reward, so God puts him of with a blessing of his left hand.

And from hence it follows, that [Page 71] there must be a great difference in the comforts of this blessing. In the former this long Life is in or­der to greater Mercy; in the o­ther, in order to his greater con­demnation. In the former, like a gentle River, which hath run ma­ny miles and enriched the neigh­bouring Grounds, it mingles at last with the vast Ocean of Glory; in the other, though like the River Jordan it hath extended its course a great way, yet falls at last into the dead Sea, into endless howlings. In the former it is a spiritual Bles­sing as well as a temporal; in the other only a temporal. In the former it is a sign that a great deal more is to be added to it; in the other, that after that, all his Bles­sings are at an end, and that he shall have no more.

By all which it appears, that this Remembrance of God is no [Page 72] useless thing. It is profitable to the Body as well as the Soul; and by what I have said, it should seem it is the best Physick in the world. So wisely hath God ordered his Laws and Precepts, that they sig­nally advance the welfare not onely of the inward, but outward man too. O the blindness of poor Mortals that will not see this truth! How calmly, how sweetly, how contentedly may a man live with the Fear of God, while sin, and pleasing his extravagant Lusts hur­ries the sinner on to a thousand troubles and inconveniencies! Nay, the unwary man sees how his sin­ful courses, his drinking, and kee­ping ill Company breaks his E­state, his Body, and his Health, and perhaps the Heart of his Wife and Children. The Fear of God would preserve all these, yet the heedless wretch will take no war­ning. [Page 73] Do these men believe ano­ther life do you think? No, if they did, they durst as well eat fire, as we say, as venture upon sins, to which the Almighty Judge hath affixed damnation by an irreversi­ble Decree. But what do we talk of another life? If their tempo­ral interest, and the interest of their Bodies, and Estate, and health cannot make them wiser, I know nothing but feeling the flaming anger of a just God, that will do it. To see men run into death and misery, and diseases, as if they were angry with their lives, and took it ill that God hath given them a being in the world, what can a man think but that they are distracted and out of their wits? But it were well if their madness were invincible, and that they could not help it; but now have they both seen and known, and [Page 74] might prevent their danger and will not; therefore their sin re­mains.

But I will not stand upon the long and healthy life, which the Re­membrance of God or a holy Fear of his name procures in this life. I will carry this motive far­ther, as this long Life relates to everlasting and endless life. Be­hold Christians, this prize, this mighty Commodity we set before you in his Name who hath sent us to be Embassadours for Christ Je­sus. Men, Fathers, and Brethren, and ye that fear God, give audi­ence: The God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath raised his Son Jesus from the dead, who hath brought life and immortality to light. This im­mortal Life he offers you, and by us entreats you to accept of it. [Page 75] He doth promise you, that you shall live eternally in his Bosom, in the Sunshine of his Favour, in the Beams of his inaccessible Light. He doth promise you, that you shall live eternally without Fear, without Want, without Poverty, without Trouble, without Sick­ness, without Care, and without Anxiety. He doth promise you, that vou shall live eternally in all the Ease, and Plenty, and Prospe­rity that reason can desire. He doth promise you all, this, not that he stands in need of you, or is in distress for your company, or that this eternal Life lies like a Drug upon his hands, or that he knows not what to do with it. No, but his Almighty, Immense, and infi­nite love moves him to offer all this; and by way of exchange, he requires not an Oblation of the Beasts of the field, or of a thou­sand [Page 76] Rivers of Oyl; but all he ex­pects at your hands, is this early Remembrance of your Creator; a Remembrance without which you cannot live happy here, with­out which you can never relish that eternal Life he doth promise you, without which you are incapable of conversing with him, and with­out which it is impossible you should ever be his Friends and Fa­vourites. And have you no am­bition to live as long as Angels live? Are you so low-spirited that you have no desire to live eternal­ly? Ye young people, ye are loth to die, behold, this conscien­tious Remembrance of your God will make your days like the days of God, whose Years do not fail, and who endures from one Gene­ration to another. Ye that are stricken in age, as old as ye are, ye are unwilling to die. If you [Page 77] are loth to die, behold here is a Tree of Life, if you stretch forth your hand and eat of this Tree, you shall live for ever. This Re­membrance of God, this Fear of his Name, is the true Antidote a­gain Death, aye, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against you. And will ye refuse so great a Mer­cy, and a Pearl of that inestima­ble value? Did any of the dam­ned see you loth and unwilling to embrace this offer, what strange Creatures would they take you to be? O then, see that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they es­caped not that refused him who spake on Earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from Heaven, Heb. 12.21.

Sixthly. It is rational to believe, that if God were always in our [Page 78] thoughts, we should not dare to sin. We put him out of our minds, are loth to reflect on him, loth to think of him; or if he thrust himself into our Understandings, we force him out again, and that's the reason why we venture to of­fend him. God hath done all that was fit for a wise Creator to do, to make us always remember, and always think of him: His Im­press and Stamp is upon every vi­sible and created Object. We see him in Heaven and in Earth. How can we look upon the Sun, and not behold him by whose order he shines, and warms this Nether­world? How can we view the Moon and Stars, and not see him that calls them all by their names? He is to be seen in every Flower, in every Tree, in every sprig of Herb, in every Shrub, in our Souls and Bodies; and whatever we [Page 79] touch or handle, we may see him in whom, and for whom, and through whom are all things; and then surely here are great oppor­tunities to think of him, to have him in our minds, and to keep him in our thoughts, and with that remembrance to banish all things that are contrary or offen­sive to his Nature! But so stupid are the generality, that though God as it were thrusts himself upon them, and hath made the way to forget him in a manner unpassa­ble, yet they look not upon him, see him not, pierce and dive no farther than the Shell or outward Rind, think only on the Effect, and dis-regard the Cause, fix their eyes on what is before them, but mind not him that is invisible. They can do it, but they will not, they have reason given them to take notice of him, but they use [Page 80] it not. And while God is not in all their thoughts, how should they fear, how should they stand in awe, how should they be restrai­ned from doing ill? Not thinking of him, they dread him not. Ta­king no notice of his Majesty, and Greatness, and Power, and Good­ness, they pay him not that re­spect which is due to that everla­sting Being. Banishing him out of their minds, they reflect not on his Laws, do not mind his threatnings, and remember not what the consequences of this neg­lect will be, which makes them rush into sin, as a Horse rushes in­to the Battle. This is to have eyes, and not to see; which as it is at first a mans sin, so it becomes afterwards his punishment, as Pha­raoh's induration was first his crime, but came to be seal'd upon him afterward by a Decree from Hea­ven [Page 81] What a Philosophical, or ra­ther Angelical life might we lead if we would taste and see in eve­ry thing, how sweet and how gra­cious the Lord is! This would not onely fright us from breaking his holy and wholesome Laws, but be­come a Treasury, a Repository of admirable Comforts. This would qualifie every affliction, give an allay to our sorrows, mitigate every trouble, support us in di­stress, relieve us in our wants, and direct us in perplexities. This would make us submit to the di­vine Will in all things, and say with him, I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because thou did'st it, Psal. 39.9. This is to converse with God, and never to want company. This way solitude may be improved, and he that where­ever he is, beholds the divine Wis­dom, Goodness, and Power, which [Page 82] he may see in every Animal, in his Meat, and Drink, and Clo­thing, but chiefly in his Reason, can never be in distress for want of Company. For God is always with him, and by seeing him in the various Objects before him, and admiring his powerful Arm, and the excellent designs he hath in these Dispensations, he doth as it were speak to him, address himself to him, and gets assurance that God is pleased with him: For whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindnesses of the Lord, Psal. 107. ult.

Seventhly, Remember Now thy Creator. Sinner, it must be now or never. Thou hast no time but the present time. What is past and what is to come is out of thy power. This is all the stock thou [Page 83] hast: If thou neglect this, thou art not sure thou shalt have any more. Now when thou readest these things; Now, when thou hearest these truths; Now, when these admonitions are suggested to thy mind; Now, when the voice of God sounds in thine ears; Now is the time to give earnest heed unto the message of Grace and Mercy. Now thy Memory serves, now thy Reason is strong, now eve­ry thing invites thee to close with thy God, dare to do it. Now is God ready to seal thy Pardon. Now he is willing to give thee an Interest in his love. Now he calls, now he entreats, now thy Conscience checks thee; Now thou hast good inclinations, now thou may'st make thy self now thou may'st be advan­ced to heavenly places. Now work, now labour, now resist, now fight, now strive, now contend, now bestir [Page 84] thy self, now rise; now take pains. now secure Gods loving kindness, and thy happiness.

After this life there is no Purga­tory, no middle state, where the Prayers of the living, or Masses said by Priests can attone for your past or former Errours. They that can feed themselves with such Popish Dreams, or have any opi­nion of these fancies of Nuns and Friars, must be wofully forsaken of God and of their Reason. Nei­ther St. Francis's Girdle, nor St. Simon Stocks, his Scapulary, nor the Rosary of St. Dominick, nor all the Trinkets and Rellicks the Ro­man Church doth boast of, will do ye any service here. To hope for such helps, contrary to Scripture, and ridiculous in the eyes of ra­tional men, is an argument of a distempered Brain, and unaccoun­table stupidity. Thou confessest [Page 85] the Scripture to be the Word of God, and to contain the perfect Will of God; and if so, God ha­ving revealed not one syllable of his intent of being entreated by the Prayers of the living, or thine own after thy departure, why should'st thou feed thy self with Wind and Air, or believe that when thy Now hath been neglected, thy Hereafter will save all. This is to play with Religion, not to be­lieve it, if now thou remembrest not the great work thou hast to do, thou onely art, but livest not. Thou hast onely a Being in the world, but art a useless thing. Thou livest not, except thou livest in a sense of the future account, and securest Gods favour, and the safety of thy Soul, by departing from the way that leads to destru­ction. And if the Roman in Dio thought no years part of his life, [Page 86] but those he had spent in retire­ment, and conversing with God and himself, and therefore caused it to be engraven on his Tomb­stone; Here lies Similius, who hath been Seventy six years in the world, but lived but Seven, what must be written on thy Monument who regardest not the example Je­sus, nor the lives of Saints, nor the Precepts of the Gospel, now in this thy day? What must be written I say, on thy Monument, but that thou hast lived pondus utile ter­ra; That thou hast been a dead weight in the world, and hast not lived one day to the comfort and welfare of thy immortal Soul? This present time is the, time that God prescribes thee to watch a­gainst sin, to resist temptation, to get the ornament of Grace and Vertue. If thou fanciest any o­ther time may do better, thou [Page 87] reckonest without thy Host, buil­dest Castles in the Air, and only deceivest thy self with pleasant Il­lusions. Who should know it so well what time is fittest for this work as the all-wise God? Shall thy shallow brain pretend to know better than he who made thy frame, or considers and ponders things in the Ballance of his eter­nal Wisdom? Canst thou imagine that a God bent so much upon thy good, would prescribe any thing prejudicial to thy interest? Doth he affirm, and protest, that the present time is the best and only time, and darest thou contradict him, or act as if he were mistaken, and thy choice were best? What insolence, what rudeness is this? and if it were no sin, can any thing be more contrary to good man­ners? What time would'st thou set apart for this necessary work? [Page 88] What! the age of infirmity, of sickness, or of dotage? Go and offer it to thy Governour, and see whether he will accept of such weak endeavours? Nay, art thou so fond of weak services, that thou wouldest expect none from thy Servant but when his strength fails him? Wilt thou give that to God, which Man would scorn, and thy self do'st not care for? Hath thy God deserved so little at thy hand, that thou canst serve him so? Is this the return thou ma­kest him for the thousand Mer­cies he bestows upon thee? Doth he take care of thy Soul and Body with all his strength, and shall such a crawling Worm refuse to offer him that which is found and whole? Hath he given his Son for thy ransome, broke down the Gates of Hell to free such a slave as thou art from the Prison, and [Page 89] shalt thou think much of remem­bring him with all thy heart? Wilt thou make Bargains with him, as Pharaoh did with the Children of Israel, and limit him how much he shall take at thy hands? Canst thou think so and be fearless of his anger! is Vengeance asleep, or is his Justice, do'st thou think, sunk into a fatal slumber? Can God see thee thus refractory, and for­bear preparing his Arrows upon the Bow against thee? Need he court his Servant to do his work, who hath Flames enough to force him to it? Wilt thou deal so basely with him who hath acted so generously for thy good? What mighty purchase doth he get by thy remembring of him? Is it any advantage to him when thou workest in his Vineyard? Is it not thy profit he seeks? and shall he after all be scorned and under-valued [Page 90] for his pains? Hast thou any spark of Reason left, and dost not thou blush at these do­ings?

What vanity, or what frenzy rather hath possessed thy mind, that thou talkest of being serious hereafter? Mightest not thou as well say, that thou wilt forbear wholesom Food some years, and eat and drink hereafter? If thou wouldest not cheat thy Body in this manner, what hurt hath thy Soul done thee that thou wilt wrong it thus? Must thy Body feed, and thy Soul be starved? Hath not that need of nourish­ment, as well as thy corruptible Flesh? Or do'st thou think that thy Soul will be contented with the trash thou feedest thy Body with? Thy Soul stands in need of the love of God, as much as thy Body doth of meat and drink; [Page 91] That's her food as much as Bread is of the ignobler part? If she wants this she dies, and falls a Prey to Wolves, to ravenous Birds, e­ven to hellish Furies. And shall so noble a Creature be undone for want of a little care?

Sinner! Do'st thou know what Salvation means? Is being hap­py for ever nothing? Is it so light a thing that thou needest delibe­rate, whether thou shalt prepare for it? When the Saints of old have left Father and Mother, and Lands and Houses, and lost Life it self for it, dost thou stand mu­sing whether thou shalt accept of it upon the conditions of the Go­spel? Art thou afraid of remem­bring thy Creator, when everla­sting Treasures depend upon the choice? Do'st thou believe Sal­vation is the confluence of all Fe­licity, and dost thou dread an [Page 92] early consideration how thou shalt arrive to it? Is it the Mercy that ever was Mankind, and dost not thou think it worth accepting upon any terms? Was it purchased by the Bloud of God, and shalt thou think any thing too dear for it? It is that which Angels wonder at, that God should condescend to take a handful of dust and ashes into his bosom, and dost not thou think it worth while to enquire what thou shalt do to be saved? Salvation! which to get, and to at­tain to, St. Paul runs through Fire and Water, through Honour and Dishonour, through a good Report and an evil Report, and counteth all things dross and dung in com­parison of it, dost thou prefer dross and dung and a sinful careless life before it?

What a contempt dost thou put [Page 93] upon God in valuing that so little which he prizes at the highest rate? Do'st thou contemn God, and hope to escape? Do'st thou make nothing of his Promises, and Threatnings, and think to go un­punished? If thou allowest God to be a greater Prince than thy King, will he sit silent dost thou think while thou tramplest his Au­thority under thy feet? A temporal Prince will not suffer himself to to be baffled thus, and canst thou imagine that a jealous God will connive at it? It's true, God is merciful, but art thou a fit Ob­ject of Mercy, that despisest the riches of his goodness? Will he have mercy on a sinner, that had rather wallow in mire and dirt, than be washed, and justified, and sanctified in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spi­rit of our God? Why should he [Page 94] shew mercy to a person that thinks his mercy a buthen, and his kind­ness troublesome? It is Mercy that calls thee to remember thy Creator now. It's Mercy that would save thee from perishing in the Deluge with ungodly men. It's Mercy that would draw thee away from thy Vanities, from thy admiration of the world, and from sinful compliances. It's Mer­cy that invites thee now to chuse the better Part, and to lay up thy Treasure in Heaven. If this Mer­cy be counted a drug, and instead of being priz'd, look'd upon as a thing needless, and impertinent, how shall Mercy plead for thee in the last day? Or what apolo­gies can Mercy make for a person that had rather have the wrath of God than that Mercy for his portion? How must this please the enemy of mankind, to see a [Page 95] Creature whom God would love, run away from him, and instead of remembring his Creator, for­get him and his Laws, which are his Cordials and Restoratives? God surely cannot be pleased with it. He protests against thy refu­sal. He complains of it, he sees the wrong thou dost to thy Soul, and seems even at a loss for a rea­son why thou wilt do so. He that puts thee upon the neglect of this early and serious remembrance of thy God and Creator, he it is that rejoyces at it: His Agents thy evil Companions, may rejoyce at it; men as senseless as thy self may rejoyce at it, but Angels mourn, and all good men grieve to see thee so obstinate. The De­vil onely takes delight in it: It doth him good to think that the number of his Infernal Compani­ons will be encreased by thy com­pany. [Page 96] He lays Snares for thy Soul, and is glad when thou art taken. His envy is gratified to see thee averse from this early Fear of God. He was afraid thou wouldest chuse the Wisdom which is from above; and to see thee chuse that which is earthly and sensual, that's it, which is some ease to him in his torments.

Why? wilt thou be worse than other Creatures? All other Crea­tures betimes prosecute the end for which they are created, and wilt thou alone forget the end for which thou camest into the world? The end for which thou wert crea­ted was to seek the things which are above, and wilt thou directly contrary to that design, and in that age too, which is most pro­per to do it in, like a Beast seek the things which are below? Sure thou must take God to be some [Page 97] strangely tame and easie Deity, that can see thee cross his Designs, reverse his Intentions, and walk opposite to the scope of all his wonderful Works, and set thy self against his Purposes in thy Creation, and sit down quietly un­der these abuses.

Thou believest some persons in the world, why shouldest not thou believe good men, who have tried this early remembrance of God, found the greatest comfort, and the strongest support in it, and can testifie by experience, that nothing is so beneficial, so pleasant, or so useful, as an early self-denial; such men are too honest to deceive thee, they dread lying, as thou dost the severities of Religion; and they would not for a world assert and affirm these things, but that they know these ways to be ways of pleasantness, and these Paths end [Page 98] in peace. Indeed that's the hap­py Exit of these ways, and when so many thousand wise men have said, and do say so; O Remember them which have spoken to you in the Name of the Lord, whose faith follow, knowing the end of their con­versation.

Eighthly, Our Remembring our Creator here is the way to have God remember us hereafter. It is not with him as with Pharaoh's Butler, who being lifted up to his former place, forgot what Joseph had done for him. His turn was serv'd, and the others kindness signified no­thing to him now. God remembers what hath been done here for his Honour and Glory, and this Re­membrance he will at last express in rewards suitable to his Greatness and Majesty. Darius, before he sat on the Throne of his Ancestors, [Page 99] had received a Garment, as a Pre­sent from Syloson. He remem­bred it when he was King, and made him Governour of Samus. Thus God will remember our re­membrance of him here. Not that we ascribe gratitude to God, which would suppose him indebt­ed to man, a thing impossible; For Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? Rom. 11.35. but his remembrance of our Services is gratuitous: He remembers them, not because they deserve it, but because he will, not that they merit it, but that he is pleased to do so. It is not their worth, but his goodness; not their intrinsick value, but his abundant Mercy that moves him to this re­membrance. The last day, the great day of Judgement, is that day of remembrance, and even a cup of cold water given to a Disci­ple [Page 100] in the name of a Disciple, shall be remembred then, Matth. 10.42. Rejoyce Christians, for God is not un­righteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shew'd toward his Name, in that ye have ministred to the Saints, and do mi­nister, Heb. 6.10. Your Tears, your Prayers, your Alms, your Feeding the Hungry, your Clo­thing the Naked, your Visiting the Sick, your going to Prisoners, will all be remembred one day, not one of these works shall be forgot­ten. God sets them down in his Book, and they shall be proclaim­ed in the last day. The Chronicles shall be open'd, and the faithful Mordecai shall be remembred; though for many years his good works have lain dormant, yet at last they shall be brought forth as the light, and his Righteousness as the noon day. There is nothing [Page 101] that Christ seems to remember in the last day more effectually than our bounty to the poor and needy, and the way and manner of his remembring it, is lofty and great. Come ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, Matth. 25.34. He remembers our Cha­rity here, if it be great and signal, and from a cheerful heart, For the liberal Soul shall be made fat, and he that scatters in a charitable way, increases; and of this, experience is a sufficient witness; so that it may well be said, that Alms-giving is the gainfullest art, and the right course to thrive. But after death God remembers it more solemnly. I shall not lay any great stress here upon the Examples of Stephen King of Hungary, and Oswald some­time King of England, of whom it is reported, that their Right [Page 102] hands after after their death never putrified; but while the rest of their Bodies mouldred into dust, this part was preserved sound and entire, because in their life-time they had made much use of their Right hand in bestowing their Goods on the indigent. These may be reckoned among Gods miraculous Providences, which though they appear but seldom, yet may serve to confirm our Faith, of Gods remembring hereafter what we do here for the houshold of Faith. Of this nature is the famous story of Euagrius, Vid. Mosch. prat. Spir. c. 195. re­corded by credible Witnesses. This Heathen Philo­sopher, being a great acquaintance of Synesius Bishop of Cyrene, the Bishop frequently argued with him about the truth of the Christian Religion, and was often at him to receive Baptism, but all in vain. [Page 103] One day the Bishop being very earnest with him to use no further delays or excuses, the Philosopher told him, there were several things in the Christian Religion which his reason could never digest, and among the rest these two, That men shall rise at last with the same Bodies that they carried about them here on earth; And that what a man gives to the poor here, God will repay it him in the other world. The Bishop told him that all this was very true, and that they had all the reason in the world to believe it; insomuch, that what with the Bishops confidence, and what with the Arguments he used, the Philosopher at last was perswaded to be baptized; and though he wavered much in his belief, yet the Bishop thought it convenient to wash him with Wa­ter in the Name of the Lord Je­sus, [Page 104] not doubting but in a little time he would come to a full assu­rance of Faith. Some weeks be­ing past, the Philosopher comes to Synesius and deposites three hun­dred pounds in his hand, ordering him to distribute it to the poor; yet with this Proviso, that Synesius should give him a Bill under his hand, that Christ should repay it him in the other world. The Bi­shop cheerfully writ him a Bill, and subscribed it, and Euagrius goes home. Not long after the Philo­sopher falls sick, and finding death approaching, calls his two Sons to him, charging them to put the Bill Synesius had given him betwixt his fingers, and so bury him, which was done accordingly. Three days after his death a Ghost in Euagrius's shape appears to Syne­sius by night, bids him not be a­fraid, but gives him thanks, assu­ring [Page 105] him, that the Bill was abun­dantly paid, orders him to go to his Grave, and in the Coffin he should find his Receipt subscribed with his own hand. Synesius asto­nished at the sight, and more at the Spirits words, immediately repairs to the Philosophers Sons, asks them what they had done to their Fa­ther? They replied, that they had performed his will, and according to his order put a Bill he named to them betwixt his fingers. The Bishop desirous to know the ut­most of it, causes the Grave and Coffin to be opened, and there finds the Philosophers acknowledg­ment of having received what Sy­nesius had promised him, and his name Euagrius written under it. The Spectators wondring at the mighty Providence, run presently to Church, and sing a Kirieleison or Lord have mercy upon us.

[Page 106]Though this passage may be of some use; yet we have a surer word of Prophecy to establish our be­lief of Gods remembring our acts of Charity in the life to come. He that is the Truth, and the Life, hath given us so many promises of it, that there is no room left to doubt of it.

Nor is it onely our Alms that God will remember in the next life, but all the good we have done: Our Repentance, our turning from our evil ways, our contempt of the world, our contemplations of the future Inheritance, our love to God, our Prayers and Praises, our Obedience, our watchfulness over our Hearts, our endeavours to con­vert and comfort our Neighbour, the Admonitions and Exhorta­tions we gave them, the Mortifi­cations we used, the pains we took to subdue our Lusts, our attempts [Page 107] to follow the best Examples, our self-denials, our Temperance, our Meekness, our Humility, our Sighs and Groans under the burthen of our sins, our hunger and thirst after Righteousness, our peaceable­ness, our sufferings for Righteous­ness sake, our doing his Will, our self-resignation, our affection to his Ordinances, our delight in the House of God, our rellish of his Word, our frequent use of the ho­ly Communion, and our readiness to every good word and work. There is a Register kept in Heaven of all these performances: Men may forget them, and our Neigh­bours may take no notice of them when we are dead and gone, but God doth not forget them. He takes notice of them here, and he'll take notice of them hereaf­ter. He'll remember them, to crown them, to reward them, to glorifie them.

[Page 108]In the Parable of Barlaam and Josaphat there is men­tion made of a Coun­try,Damasc. Hist. Barl. & Jos. where every year the people chuse a new King, and whoever is chosen reigns for a year, and after that is banished into some howling Desart, or barren Island where he perishes with hunger. A silly fellow being chosen one year, surprized with the sudden al­teration of his fortune, gave him­self over to all manner of debau­cheries, and spared no cost, no pains to satiate his lustful desires and bru­tish appetite; the present plenty made him forget the years of sor­row, that were to ensue, and when his year expired, he was sent ac­cording to custom to the unfortu­nate Island, where he spent and en­ded his days most miserably. A­nother year a wiser man than or­dinary being elected by the multi­tude, [Page 109] he began to use his Royalty with great moderation, and the thoughts of the dismal years that were to come, made him reflect how he should live when all the present pomp and grandeur should vanish. Having therefore a Coun­sellor of great prudence about him, and demanding of him what he should do to make his future solita­tary life easie to him, he received this advice, To engross what trea­sures he could during his splendid Fortune, and send it away by tru­sty Officers to the place he was to be in till he died. He did so, and when he was forced to quit all his magnificence, and commanded a­way into a desolate Country, his Exile proved his happiness, and he lived in great content to his dying day.

He that remembers his kind Creator here, sends his goods away [Page 110] before him into another world, makes provision for his Soul, when it enters into Lands unknown and invisible, and by the Carriages that arrive there, the man is known and remembred by God & his holy An­gels. His good works mount up to Heaven before him. These keep him from starving when he quits his accommodations here. These are the food he lives on when he leaves this world; not that their natural strength and vertue is so great, as to give him eternal Life, but being perfumed with the me­rits of the Son of God, they are remembred by God with Praises and Commendations, and made e­verlasting food.

Ninthly, Notwithstanding all these encouragements, we cannot but with grief behold how little God is remembred by young and [Page 111] old; and though he be in the midst of us, and by his Providence upholds and supports us every moment, how wretchedly he is forgotten by most men. It's true, he is not so forgotten that his Name is never so much as men­tioned; some will do that if it were onely in their Oaths and Imprecations. But how few will or have courage to remember him in their actions, and think; This God hath forbid, and I must not do it; this is against his Law, and I must not venture upon it; this clashes with his Word, and I must avoid it; this will displease his purer eyes, and I must abhor it; or this is ac­ceptable to him, and I will embrace it; this is to act like the Children of God, and I will follow them; this is my great Master hath expressly commanded, and I will obey. All other remembrances without this [Page 112] are Complements, not Devotions. This Remembrance God values more than a thousand formal De­votions, repeated as Papists do their Ave's. This is to remem­ber him rationally, like persons who understand the right use and end of their reason. He that doth not so, forgets him; and whatever his pretences may be of remembring him, God looks upon it as oblivion while in his conversation abroad, and at home his greatness and holiness is not thought of; and those that for­get him thus, cannot expect God should remember them in the day of Recompense as a Father doth his Children. Great will be the terrour, when the thoughtless Soul comes to appear before an all-see­ing God, and greater yet, when to such forgetful sinners he shall say, I know you not; for so we are told Matth. 7.23. Then will I profess [Page 113] unto them, I never knew you; De­part from me ye that work iniquity. How! I never knew you? How can any thing be hid from him, when it is expresly said, Known un­to God are all his works from the be­ginning of the world, Acts 15.18. True, he knows them as his works, but not as his Friends. He knows them as Traitors, but not as faith­ful Subjects. He knows them as Creatures, but not as his Children. He knows them as Prodigals, but not as Heirs of Heaven. He knows them as Strangers, but not as Dome­sticks. How should he know them when they have lost the Chara­cter of his Sheep, the mark where­by the Flock must be distinguish­ed, which is to hear his Voice? And what a dismal condition must that man be in, whom God will take no notice of, and whom he doth not remember, that ever he [Page 114] was of his Family! If God knows him not, no Angel in Heaven will know him, no Saint, no Spirit made perfect will know him. He is shut out from Heaven, excluded from the best and noblest Compa­ny; no Society will receive him, but that of hellish Spirits. You may laugh at these Terrours now, but when they come to pass, what wise man would be under your circumstances? As a Father pla­gued with a disobedient Son, for­gets that ever he had such a Child, so God will forget that ever you had any relation to him. He will remember your sins indeed, he'll remember how you have fought against him, how you have doted upon the world, how you have pleased your Flesh, and counted his Laws as strange things, how you have slighted his thunders, and looked upon his offers of Mercy [Page 115] as words in course; How you have enslaved your Souls to your Lusts, and made the Mistress wait upon a pitiful Hagar; how you have gone on in sin when your hearts have smitten you for it, and thought your jolly life would never be at an end; how you have loved unrighteousness more than goodness, and turned the truth of God into a lie; how you have thought the duties of Reli­gion below you, and put off God with the lame and with the blind for sacrifice; how soon you have been weary of serving him, and how you have looked upon your duties, as things needless and un­profitable, how you have had mens persons in admiration because of advantage, and hearkned more to the perswasions of a Sot, than to his wholesome Counsels; how dear your credit and honour hath been [Page 116] to you, and how you have valued it above his honour and glory; how you have derided him that hath reproved you in the Gate, and been wise to do evil; how you have made the riches of the world the great end of all your endeavours, and set your affections upon things perishable and incon­stant.

This he'll remember with a witness, and none of all the hard Speeches you have vented against him, or the power of godliness shall be forgotten: But this Re­membrance will be your misery, and his thinking on your faults and wilful errours, your condem­nation. Flatter not your selves, that once you did remember his Will, and Laws, and Mercies with great sincerity, though afterward tempted by the Devil, and enticed by the frailty of your Flesh, you [Page 117] departed from the holy Command­ment delivered to you; for he hath made already a Proviso a­gainst that Plea, and protested, that if the righteous man turn away from his righteousness and commit iniqui­ty, and doth according to all the a­bominations that the wicked man doth, shall he live? all his righte­ousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned, in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die, Ezek. 18.24. , He'll forget all your little Services, and your pet­ty hypocritical Devotions; indeed they are not worth remembring, fitter to be scorned than to be re­membred. To remember them so, as to crown them with bliss, is a thing they are not capable of, for Love, the great principle and sap that must feed them, is wanting.

[Page 118]Suppose you were in danger of losing all you have, even life it self, and stood in need of some great Princes assistance who had formerly expressed more than or­dinary kindness to you, and should he upon your address turn away his face from you, not onely make himself strange to you, as Joseph did to his Brethren by way of tryal, but be really so, what a fright and confusion would you be in? Be­hold God is that puissant Prince, who hath formerly courted you by Kindnesses, and Mercies, and Entreaties. If you forget him in your Conversation here, you will certainly be in danger of losing, not onely all your Goods, but e­ternal Life to boot. Before this powerful Prince, who alone can save you from perishing, you must stand e'er long, his help and assi­stance will be more needful and [Page 119] advantageous to you than all the Advocates that Heaven and Earth can afford. And if this immortal King, instead of remembring you, shall frown upon you, be strange to you, acknowledge no such for­getful Creatures for Members of his Family, or Objects of his pa­ternal care and tenderness: Can any Language express the astonish­ment your Souls will be in? when he shall put you in mind of all the sins you have forgotten, and of all the secret Follies you kept concealed from the world and the eyes of men, when he shall re­member, and lay open all that you have buried in oblivion, and make the wounds you gave to your Souls, and skin'd them over, bleed afresh, how dumb, how pale, how surpriz'd will ye be at the tremendous Charge! O consi­der this ye that forget God, lest I [Page 120] tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver, Psal. 50.22.

But after all, methinks this Dis­course is incompleat, except I add something concerning our Deceas­ed Brother, whose death hath brought us hither. Though I had no personal acquaintance with him, yet I have some reason to believe that the account given me of him is impartial, and agreeable to truth. He was, it seems, a per­son faithful in his Generation, a man of Conscience, a pious Chri­stian, a good Church-man, a lo­ving Brother, and an excellent Servant. Onely of his Death it may be said as David said of a far greater man: Did the Lad die as a fool dieth? Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters, but as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. In a word, [Page 121] Murthered he was, by men brui­tish and barbarous; and who, like the Judge in the Gospel, neither feared God, nor regarded man. I will not be too inquisitive into the reasons of this Providence, though it be natural enough when such accidents befall good men, to wonder at the strangeness of the Dispensation. But when we see a good Prophet killed by a Lion for a meer mistake, as it appears to us; and Josiah an excellent Prince, slain in battle for a rash act; and an Vzzah struck dead upon the spot for stretching forth his hand to uphold the tottering Ark, all admirable men, and whose Salva­tion we do not question, we need not wonder that Providence hath permitted a Murther to be com­mitted upon this innocent person; for as in the aforesaid examples, their violent death was onely a [Page 122] temporal affliction, such as sicknes­ses and other Diseases are, so the accident in our deceased Friend was of the same nature, and such calamities in good men do but help and advance them the sooner to their everlasting harbour. And yet I cannot altogether excuse our Brother here departed. For as the Murther was acted in a publick Fair, where great disorders, rude­nesses, and insolencies are commit­ted, and excesses, and vain Shews are all the entertainment, so it's probable, and I fear, that when he went to this place, he ventured in­to one which he had no lawful call to be at. The Primitive Bishops and Christians were very much a­gainst such vain and foolish Shews, and forbid their Disciples to fre­quent them; and as Peter fell by going into the High Priests Hall, so it might be very just with God [Page 123] to let so sad a Providence befal our deceased Friend, to give warning to other good men to keep ever in Gods ways, that they may be con­fident of the Angels bearing them up in their hands, lest they dash their foot against a stone. But though there might be inadverten­cy, and infirmity, in our deceased Brothers going to a place he had nothing to do at; to be sure it was onely a single act, not a habit of juvenile vanity; and though he was thereby deprived of the far­ther comforts of this Life, yet that can be no impediment to his en­joyment of a better; for God judges of us not by an accidental incogitancy, but by the stream and current of our lives. His mortal wounds, though procured and cau­sed by very bad instruments, yet did not put him into a rage and passion, but he freely forgave his [Page 124] Murtherers, and like St. Steven pray'd that God would not lay this sin to their charge, and when he had said so he fell asleep. His death is a Sermon to us all; and though he be dead, yet he calls to us in Christ's language, Watch therefore, for ye know not when your Lord comes, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cock crowing. and what I say unto you I say unto all, watch.


GReat, Glorious, and Incompre­hensible God! with thee is terrible Majesty; touching thy Es­sence▪ we cannot find it out; thou art excellent in Power, in Judgement, and in plenty of Justice. Thy ways are always equal, and the most pier­cing, as well as envious eye can spy no fault in thy proceedings. Thou art infinitely pure and holy, and the Light, thou art deckt withal, ad­mits no spots, no variableness, no shadow of turning: Thou art the most worthy Object for my thoughts and memory to fix upon. Thou de­servest [Page 126] to be remembred in all the actions of my life. And to forget thee, without whom I cannot breathe is an Indignity, I cannot answer, I have too long pass'd by thee as if I had no relation to thee. I have been able to remember a frivolous story of my Neighbour, and my me­mory hath serv'd me well enough, to preserve a wrong or injury done to my Name and Person; but thy lo­ving kindnesses and gracious Provi­dences, and what ever concerns my everlasting welfare, I have suffered to slip out of my mind. How many years have I spent in the world with­out any serious thoughts of the great mystery of Godliness? Thou hast gi­ven me Line upon Line, and Pre­cept upon Precept, and how like wa­ter have I suffer'd them to be spilt on the ground! I have looked upon my remembring thee as a thing in­different, which I might observe or [Page 127] neglect at my pleasure? I have li­ved thou knowest, as if the world had been the onely object of my hopes and desires! my best and golden days, how have I squandred them away as if they were things too pre­cious to be consecrated to thy ser­vice! How vain hath my mind been! How hath it ranged and ro­ved, and fluttered up and down a­mong the contents and comforts of this present life! How greedily hath it applied it self to these fading Flowers, and thought, that here lay all the sweetness I could hope for! How late do I begin to love thee! How late do I begin to be wise! Had I improved the Talents thou hast given me betimes, assoon as I was capable to understand what Re­ligion and an everlasting interest meant, what good might I have done! How many might I have drawn by my example to thy pleasant ways! [Page 128] How great a portion of thy love and favour have I lost! and how much earlier might I have enjoyed the in­fluences of thy Charity! How justly mightest thou have doomed me to a reprobate mind, or struck me dead in my vanities! I remember Lord, how thou hast called, and I have re­fused; how thou hast stretched forth thy hands unto me, and I have not regarded! How justly mightest thou laugh now at my calamity, and mock when my fear comes; when my fear comes as desolation, and my de­struction like a Whirlwind! But O my God, in the midst of thine an­ger remember Mercy! Remember O Lord, thy tender Mercies, and thy loving Kindnesses, for they have been ever of old! Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my Trans­gressions; according to thy mercy re­member thou me for thy goodness sake, O Lord! Good and upright [Page 129] is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way. O my God! I am dull, I am ignorant, I have stood in the way of sinners. O teach thou me, teach me to remember thee at my lying down, and mine uprising. Teach me to remember thee in my going out, and in my coming in! Let thy remembrance for the future be very sweet to me, and let me ne­ver think of thee but with pleasure and delight. Let me forget what is behind me, and put me always in mind of the recompense that is be­fore me. Call not my sins to remem­brance; and as for my transgressions, forget them, and cast them behind thy back. Teach me to remember what thou hast done for me, and make that remembrance powerful to engage me to gratitude and obedi­ence. In death there is no remem­brance of thee, and who will give thee thanks in the Grave? The li­ving, [Page 130] the living, they shall praise thee. O let my life be a continual remembrance of thee. Morning, E­vening, and at Noon, let me remem­ber thee; and in the Night let my song be of thee, who art the God of my Salvation. Let me remember thy love, and how thou hast humbled thy self for my sake. I am apt to forget thee, O refresh thou my memo­ry with a sense of thy goodness; and when the world would drive any serious thoughts out of my mind, keep them in, O Lord, by thy mighty power, and make them agreeable to my Memory and Vnderstanding. Remember how frail I am, and up­hold me with thy free Spirit. For­get me not, O my God, though I have forgotten thee. Deal not with me according to mine iniquities, neither reward me according to my trans­gressions. Remember thy promise un­to [Page 131] the penitent, and how graciously thou hast offered Pardon and Salva­tion to those that turn from their e­vil ways. O God, it is the desire of my Soul, and the real purpose of my Heart, to turn to thee, to seek thy face, to walk in thy ways, and to bid farewel to all the sinful Plea­sures of this life. Put me in mind of all the Motives, and Argu­ments thou hast given me to make my Calling and Election sure. When they wear out in my Mind, write them there afresh, and renew them still, that being ever before me▪ they may lead me to thy holy Hill: O bring to my remembrance every Precept and every Duty I am to perform, and when ever I am to per­form any, say unto me, call to me, This is the way, walk in it, and turn neither to the right nor to the left, then shall I praise thee [Page 132] with joyful Lips, and give thanks at the remembrance of thy Holi­ness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


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