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Printed for Sam: Lownds neare ye Sauoy. 1677.

THE GREAT LAW OF Consideration: OR A DISCOURSE, Wherein the Nature, Vsefulness, and Absolute Necessity OF Consideration In order to a truly Serious and Religious LIFE, is laid open: By ANTHONY HORNECK, Preacher at the SAVOY.

Psal. 119.59.
I thought on my wayes, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
Lactant. Lib. 1. Instit.
Benè dicere ad paucos pertinet, benè autem vivere ad omnes.

London, Printed by T. N. for Sam. Lownds near the Savoy in the Strand. M.DC.LXXVII.

IMPRIMATUR,

Guli. Sill R.P.D. Henr. Episc, Lond. à Sacris Domesticis.

TO HIS GRACE Christopher, Lord Duke of Albemarle, &c. Lord Lieutenant of the Counties of De­von, and Essex, Gentleman of His Majesties Bedchamber, one of His Majesties most Honourable Privy Council, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, &c.

My LORD, May it please your Grace,

I Dare not call this Ad­dress Presumption, the usual Compliment men give to Persons of Honour in Dedicati­ons of Books, but Du­ly, and the greatest Service, I can pay you, It's the cause of God, and the [Page ii] cause of Mens immortal Souls, I am defending in this Treatise, a Subject, which claims attention from all degrees of men, and wherein the most puissant Prince is as much concern'd, as the meanest Vassal. It is a future estate, and what becomes of men, when their bodies do drop from them, and what they must do to inherit that eternal glory, which a merciful God hath been pleas'd to pro­mise them, that I intend to speak to; and if there be such a thing, as a retribution after Death, and our Souls, When they leave their earthly Tabernacles, must come to an after-reckoning, and appear before the dreadful Tribunal of a just and infinite Majesty, certainly that man is unjust to himself, and an enemy to his own preservation, that dares neglect his preparation for that great, and tremen­dous Audit, and prefers not meditation on that last account before all the sensual enjoyments of this World.

[Page iii] My LORD, We are fall'n into an Age, wherein some few daring men (in­deed their number is inconsiderable, com­pared with the more sober part of Man­kind) have presumed to mock at a pu­nishment after death, and term'd that a Bugbear, deriv'd from the tales of Priests, and the melancholy of contem­plative men, which the wiser World here­tofore was afraid to entertain, but with most serious reflections. When the ripest and most subact judgments for almost six thousand years together, by the instinct of Nature, and Conscience, have believ'd a future Retribution, it's pretty, to see a few raw Youths, who have drown'd their Reason in Sensuality, and scarcely ever perus'd any Books, but Romances, and the lascivious Rhapsodies of Poets, assume to themselves a power to controul the uni­versal sense, and consent of Mankind; think themselves wiser, than all the grave Sages, that have liv'd before them; and break Jests in their Riots and Debau­chery's, [Page iv] upon that, which not only Christi­ans, but Jews, Mahometans, and Hea­thens, the subtilest, and most knowing of them, have ever since we have any Re­cord or History of their Actions, and Be­lief, profess'd, and embrac'd with all ima­ginable Reverence.

And are not things come to a fine pass, My LORD, when Christianity, the clearest Revelation that was ever vouch­saf'd to men, hath been receiv'd, con­firm'd, and approv'd of in the World above sixteen hundred years, and the greatest Philosophers in many of those Countries, where it hath taken Root, have not dared to doubt of the truth of it, the convincing power that came along with it, proclaiming its Divinity and Majesty, that these bold Attentates should now be­gin to arraign its Authority, and put us upon proving the first Principles of it, as if the World were return'd to its for­mer Barbarism, and we had once more to do with Infidels, as if men had divested [Page v] themselves of Humanity, put on the na­ture of Beasts, and were sent into the World to understand no more, but the matter, and motion of the Malmsbury Philosophy.

I confess I have sometimes blamed my self for accusing these Libertines of Athe­ism, when I have understood, what mortal Enemies they were to Lying, and Non­sence; for how should not they believe a God, that cannot speak a sentence, but must swear by him, or the truth of the Christian Religion, that put so remark­able an Emphasis upon 's Wounds, and Blood; or another World, that do so often imprecate Damnation to them­selves, or the being of a Devil, who do not seldom wish, he may confound them? Would not any man conclude, That Per­sons who do so exclaim against every mistaken, and misplaced word, and are such perfect Masters of Sence, and value themselves so much upon their Veracity, must needs believe the existence of those [Page vi] things, they make use of in their ingeni­ous Oaths and Curses, the pompous Orna­ments which in this Licentious Age set off the Glory, Wit, and Gallantry of such accomplish'd Pretenders? But though we must not be so unmannerly, as to ac­cuse these Wits of contradictions in their discourses, yet any man that doth not love darkness better than light, may soon perceive how faulty this way these Scepticks are; there being nothing more common with them, than to smile at the Notion of that God, by whom they swore but just before; and to raille that day of Judgment, which they seem'd to acknow­ledge in their absurd wishes and impre­cations.

Some have I known, who in a serious Fit have been pleas'd to tell me, That if they could be sure, there was another World, and a Retribution for Good and Evil, none should exceed them in strict­ness of Conversation, and exact piety of Life; and I am so charitable to believe,

[Page vii]that these spoke the sense of most of the rest, and that the imaginary want of cer­tainty in this dubious Point, diverts them from venturing on that innocence and purity, which was the glory of the primi­tive Christians. But may it not be re­quisite to enquire, whether these Doubters have ever taken the right way to be sa­tisfied? If one, that had never heard of such a City, as Exeter, should be told, that a Friend of his lately deceased there, had left him a Thousand pound, and he should reply, that if he were certain, there were such a City, he would repair thither, and yet would not enquire of those, that are able to inform him, might it not be presu­med, that such an one had no mind to be satisfied? And I durst appeal to the Con­sciences of these men, that doubt of an after-retribution, whether they did ever sincerely, and impartially desire or endea­vor to be satisfied about it? Did they ever do, what every rational man ought to do, that is willing to be ascertained of [Page viii] the truth of a common report? Did they ever put themselves to half that trouble, to be convinced of the certainty of a fu­ture judgment, that they put themselves to, when they would know, whether the Title of the Estate, they would buy, be good or no. Do not they trudge from Lawyer to Lawyer to advise about the Evidences, that relate to it? And by this we guess, that they are willing to be sa­tisfied.

To scoff at a Notion of weight and moment before examination, is a great sign of indiscretion and folly in those that do it, whil'st the prudent man, that de­sires to know the truth of it, enquires what solidity there is in it, whether any wise men were ever of that opinion, what reason they had to think so, and what en­ticed, or moved them to embrace it? he is so far from exclaiming against it at the first hearing, or arraigning those that re­ceive it as too facile, and credulous, that he'll consult with men, whom he may ra­tionally, [Page ix] suppose to be at least as wise, and learned, as himself, and see, what Argu­ments they can alledge for it, and whether those arguments be satisfactory, or no; Nor would I require more pains, or industry in the case in question, than such an applica­tion of prudence to be satisfied in the truth of a future state, and he that would thus proceed, must, be strangely stupid, if he be not convinced of the verity and ra­tionality of it.

But when I speak of enquiring into the truth of the Notion before us, I do not mean a slight, or superficial survey of it, not a flash of conception, which like Light­ning (to ufe Plutarch's phrase) dies as soon, as born, but a serious weighing, and pondering the matter; for it would seem a strange effect of arrogance, and self con­ceitedness, to undertake at first sight, to comprehend, and refute all the reasons of a Point, wherein very wise men have em­ploy'd the contemplation, and study of ma­ny hours. In all disputes, there are To­picks [Page x] of greater, or lesser weight, and if some of these pregnant Wits find them­selves able to refel some of the waekest arguments, it's ill Lugick to infer, that threfore they can as easily answer the strongest, and most judicious; And yet this is the usual method, whereby these vain men discipline themselves into un­belief; They are careful to pick out such additional proofs, which men of Reason super add to their weightiest observati­ons, and these they take the boldness to cavil at, whilest they avoid those more material evidences, which would stagger their understandings, and write a Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin upon their Lusts and Passions, which careless disposition I can ascribe to nothing so much, as want of CONSIDERATION. And in­deed it's lamentable to see men endued with Reason, sink so much beheath it, and live in the reverse of those Principles, which the Supreme Architect of Heaven and Earth hath engraven on their Con­sciences. [Page xi] To reduce such and other sinful men to a se­rious Consideration of their spiritual Con­cerns, is the chief design of this Work and all I shall request of your Grace, is, that you will be pleas'd to peruse it sometimes at your hours of leisure, not that I pretend to have writ more or better on this Sub­ject, than far more Learned Authors have done before me, but as the mighty Artaxerxes accepted of a cup of water from the hand of a Peasant, so your Grace will let the World see, how great a Master you are in the Art of Condescension, by countenancing the poor Present of,

MY LORD, YOUR GRACES Most faithful, and most obedient Servant, and Chaplain, Anthony Horneck.

THE Preface.

THe great Foes of Religion, which have in all Ages oppos'd its progress, and undermin'd its glory, are Hypocrisie and Prophaness. Between these two Thieves, the Jewel hangs, as its great Master on the Cross; and they both revile it, the one under the character of a familiar Friend, the other un­der that of an open Enemy: which of these doth the greatest harm, is something difficult to determine. Hypocrisie commonly ushers in Prophaness, and as a Lad thrust in at a Window, opens the door to the greater Mon­ster; for there is nothing more common, than for men, who are not very discerning, to con­temn all Piety, when they see the blackest Crimes prosecuted under that silken Mantle, and men with the Temple of the Lord in their mouths, abuse both the Temple, and the God, that dwells in't. People, whose un­derstandings are weak, observing men to car­ry Daggers under their Bibles, and to make use of the noblest means for the worst, and [Page] basest ends are apt to think they may with authority laugh at all, that's sacred, and fancy they are excused from all devotion, when they find the greatest pretenders make it on­ly a trick to cheat the world. Whether that Prophaness, which hath too much of late incroach'd upon this Western World, do not owe its original to such Religious pretences of men, who under the name of justice and sanctity have dared to do that, which Hea­thens would have trembled at, I leave to wi­ser men, than myself to judge.

Only I cannot but take notice of a strange effect, which our Sermons have accidentally, as the Sun doth Snakes and Serpents, when shining upon unclean Dunghils, produced in the Lives of too many, of whom we might justly have expected better returns in Reli­gion; for while we have been discouraging them from Hypocrisie, they have run out into Debauchery; and while we have endeavor'd to clear our Church from such as have but a form of Godliness, they have made our at­tempt an opportunity to indulge themselves in their Lusts, and thought that the way to approve themselves true members of our Church, was to drink, and swear, and be lewd, and to commit those sins openly, which the other may be did in secret; Excellent Sons of the Church! that Viper-like, tear up her [Page] bowels, and by their gallantry fetch'd from Hell rail at their Mother more, than Shimei did at David. I may be bold to affirm, That there is no Church this day in all the Chri­stian World, that in her Doctrine doth either encourage real goodness more, or strives more to keep the balance even, that God may have the things which are Gods, and man the things which are mans, than that we live in; yet to our sorrow we find, that while we have given People leave to laugh at Religious dissimu­lations, they have laught themselves into Li­centiousness; and while they have taken li­berty to cavil at a false Religion, they have at last learn'd to be averse from all that looks like Holiness. This hath made me some time admire, what these men do with their rea­son, and they that do not presently forswear buying any more Pearls, because some there are, that sell counterfeit ones for true, strange! They should to avoid one extreme run into another, and to shun deceptions in Religion, run as far from it, as the Devil can mislead them: How soon might the folly of both ex­tremes be discover'd, if men were but wil­ling to think more than they do! But while they go on in a road of a few outward du­ties, and consider not, how unworthy of that Church, and Gospel they live, whose Friends they profess themselves to be, no marvel, if [Page] they fright men away from our Assemblies, and bring darkness upon all the Land of Goshen.

The just indignation, I have taken, at the injuries, our Church suffers from these scan­dalous men, hath been partly the occasion of this Treatise. For I see mens Cures lie within their own breasts, and that so many are sick unto death, and ready to perish, the reason is, because they will not reflect, what unreasona­ble men they are; nor represent to themselves the wrong they do to their own Souls by a lively Consideration, as will evidently ap­pear in the ensuing Discourse.

I confess, divers accomplishments, which render a Book acceptable to curious Palates, such as are, Rhetorick, Elegancy of Stile, Fan­cy, Wit, and quotations of Authors, &c. will be found wanting here, but as I profess no skill that way, so my design was not so much to fill mens heads with Notions, as their hearts with Fire. It was to engage the igno­rant, and careless, to a substantial improve­ment of their reason; and if what I have said, can prevail with those that have lived like Beasts, to recover themselves into men again, I both undervalue the little Censures of supercilious men, and content my self with that success. We cannot all shine as stars of the first magnitude in the wide Firmament of [Page] the Church; those that cannot, must give such light, as they are able to dispense; I en­vy not our Eagles in Divinity, that they see far more, than I, but thank God, I see so much; and while the greater Sages offer Gold, and Myrrhe, and Frankincense, I am happy enough, if I may be allow'd to bring Goats hair, and Badgers skins, towards the accom­plishment of the Tabernacle. A critical eye may spy faults in this Free-will offering, and I do not wonder at it, for my duller sight, now I have done, discovers more than I wish, there were in't, But my discourse is fitted to my end. Doing good is my intent; if I succeed not, it's no more, but what greater men have failed of. Farewell.

The Contents of the Chapters contained in this Treatise.

  • CHAP. I. THE Nature of our Souls. The Eternal State, they are design'd for. The Means God hath made use of, to fit Men for Ever­lasting Bliss. All these Means ineffectual without Consideration.
  • CHAP. II. Consideration no transitory view of spiritual things, imports laying the Heart and Mind close unto spiritual Concerns; resembles mag­nifying Glasses, which discover things imper­ceptible by the naked eye. The great Ingre­dients of it, Self-Examinatian, Expostula­tion, and strong Resolution.
  • CHAP. III. The absolute necessity of Consideration in order to a serious life. Gods frequent commands to that purpose. Our Reason, and the power of Consideration we are furnish'd, or endu'd [Page] with, prov'd to be given us for this end. Without it, Men have cause to suspect, that their Reformation is counterfeit.
  • CHAP. IV. Of the various impediments and remora's of Consideration. Men fancy greater difficul­ty in't, than there is indeed. Are continu­ally employ'd about sensual objects. Loth to part with their sins. Ignorant of the pleasure of Consideration. Reflect upon the danger of lasing their unlawful gain. Fear they shall fall into, melancholy, or go distracted with so much seriousness. Are of opinion, that Conversion, in that sense the Scripture speaks of it, is needless. Mistake the nature of Consideration. Are discouraged by evil company. Neglect consulting with Ministers about this necessary work. Delude them­selves, with the Notion of Christ's dying for the sins of the world.
  • CHAP. V. Of the various Mischiefs arising from Neglect of Consideration. The want of it prov'd to be the Cause of most Sins. Some Instances are given in Atheism Vnbelief, Swearing, Pride, Carelesness in Gods-Service, Luke­warmness, Covetousness, &c.
  • [Page] CHAP. VI. Of the various advantages of serious Conside­ation; it's that, which makes a man master of all Christian Duties; it helps a man to improve Sublunary Objects into Heavenly Contemplations. It's the greatest support un­der afflictions; disposes a man to be a wor­thy Receiver of the Lords Supper: Prepares him for an Angelical Life on Earth; makes him prudent and discreet in Secular Affairs, and Businesses.
  • CHAP. VII. A pathetical Exhortation to men, Who are yet strangers to a serious, religious Life, to con­sider their wayes; the wilfulness of their neglect; how dangerous it is; how inexcusa­ble they are; how inhumane to God, and their own Souls; how reasonablel God's re­quests are, and how justly God may turn that power of Consideration, he hath given them, into blindness, and hardness of heart, since they make so ill a use of it, &c.
  • CHAP. VIII. Of Retirement, and Prayer, the two great helps to Consideration. Retirement proved to be necessary, to make Consideration of our spi­ritual state more quick, and lively. Prayer call in the assistance of Gods Spirit, and renders the work effectual. A Form of Prayer to be used upon this occasion.

ERRATA.

PAge 39 l. 6. for harden r. charm, p. 59. unseasonableness r. unreasonableness, p. 108. l. 28. not r. no. p. 117. l. 15. immediately r. mediately. p. 118. l. 14. tears r. teazes. p. 127. l. 26. prepares r. prepare. p. 148. l. 16. sleeping r. pleasing. p. 195. l. 26. blown-balls r. blow-balls. p. 198. l. 16. pass. r. compass. p. 200. l. 8. nearer, r. meaner. p. 207. l. 3. Love God r. How! God, p. 219. l, 24. wherein r. who is. p. 238. have perswaded r. have as well perswaded, p. 293. l. 26. in r. is. p. 310. l. 10. when r. where. ibid. then r. there. p. 337. l. r. saciety r. society. p. 340. l. 26 Friends r. Fiends. p. 372. l. 4. reasons r. reason. p. 385. l. 25. Zachans r. Zachaeus. p. 400. l. 12. delivered r. deliveredst.

Other literal faults, and mlstoppings, the Reader is desired to Correct as he reads.

[Page 1]CONSIDERATION, THE Nature, Usefulness and Necessity of it, in order to a Serious Life.

CHAP. I. The Nature of our Souls. The Eternal State, they are design'd for. The Means God hath made use of, to fit Men for Everlasting Bliss. All these Means ineffectual without Conside­ration.

THat we are design'd for Nobler Employments, than Eating, and Drin­king, and Sleeping, and Playing, and following our Trades, and Busi­nesses in this World, a happiness which Beasts arrive to as well as we; the great Souls [Page 2] which we carry in our Breasts, do evidently demonstrate. These being capable of know­ing God, of delighting in him, and conver­sing with him for ever, we may rationally suppose, That those, who suffer the Profits and Pleasures of this present World, to en­gross their Affections, go astray, and Err from the great End of their Creation.

While the Atheist laughs at the immortali­ty of his Soul, and the Prophane selis his bet­ter part to the Devil, the Religious, who will prove the onely wise Man in the end, and who hath none of those clouds and mists, the other are troubled with, before his eyes, sees clearly what a Treasure the bountiful hand of Heaven hath bestow'd on him, in shedding so excellent, so angelical a Being into his Body. A Soul that can build it's Nest among the Stars of Heaven, walk through yonder Mansions, and taste of the Rivers which make glad the City of God. A Soul which can wing it self into the Clouds, and survey the Crowns and Scepters laid up for those that dare despise the World, and have their Conversation in Heaven. A Soul which can enjoy a Paradise, while the Body is in trou­ble; and rejoice in him, who is All in All, while the fierce Winds are whistling about her ears.

The vast reach of these Souls, we have, [Page 3] their fitness to receive Divine illumination their strong desires after Immortality, their secret actings without the help of a Body, their hopes of Heaven, their fears of Hell, all proclaim, the certainty of an eternal state or condition, they are intended for.

This eternal state imprinted on our Na­tures, discover'd to the Gentiles, proclaim'd by the Son of God, preach'd by Angels, con­firm'd by Apostles, reveal'd to Christians, be­liev'd in the World, as it relates either to Bliss or Misery, to Joy or Torment, to Honor or Dishonor; so how to enjoy the one, and avoid the other, must in all probability be the great object which God design'd Mens Souls should be chiefly employ'd about.

For as there cannot be a thing of greater moment than Eternity; so he must be a Sot, a Beast, that can imagine, that God, who ever intends the noblest Creatures for the noblest Ends, will give Men leave to busie themselves altogether about picking of straws, and pleasing a few sensual Lufts, when he hath given them Souls capable not only of labou­ring and seeking after, but obtaining a King­dom which fades not away. And when we sweat, and toyle, and labour, to make provi­sion for twenty, thirty, forty years, what do we do, but proclaim our obligation to be in­finitely [Page 4] more concern'd, how to provide for that state, which must never have an end?

And as it was the goodness and wisdom of God to make us capable of an everlasting duration, so we should be injurious to both, if we did not suppose that God hath order'd and appointed means, whereby it's possible to save our selves from the wrath to come.

He that takes a view of Gods proceedings, and dealings with Men, ever since the Crea­tion of the World, cannot but stand amaz'd at the cost and labour, and pains, and means, and motives, and arguments, God hath us'd to make Men sensible of their everlasting in­terest, and to engage them to a serious pre­paration for that World, they must live for ever in.

This serious preparation must necessarily be a holy, blameless, spotless life, for the means must ever be sutable and agreeable to the nature of the end. And Heaven being a ho­ly place, perlect holiness reigning there, it's not to be imagin'd, how perfection of holi­ness can be enter'd upon, without a conside­rable progress in holiness here, no man reach­ing the highest step of a Ladder without the lowermost; and one might as well flatter himself, that his Trade by such a time will bring him in Ten thousand pounds, when he [Page 5] is so far from minding his Trade, that he con­trives only how to run with others into ex­cess of Riot.

And indeed to plant this holiness in Men, the means have been so various, so numerous, so potent before the Law, under the Law, and under the Gospel, that one may justly ad­mire, the whole World doth not stand candi­date for Heaven, and all the Inhabitants of the Earth do not take the Kingdom of God by violence.

Before the Law, the continual pleadings of the long-liv'd Patriarchs with sinful Men, to improve the light of Nature, that Primar of Divinity, the many Visions, Revelations, Dreams, Signs, Wonders, Voices from Hea­ven, the Ministry of Angels, Gods Patience, Forbearance, Long-suffering, and sometimes Exemplary Justice, the Examples of holy Men, Gods love to those that honour'd him, the signal blessings he bestow'd on those that made him their highest, and chiefest good, what were all these but so many calls and en­treaties, that Men would by holiness prepare for a future happiness.

Under the Law, God was so far from being weary of using means, and taking pains with Men in order to this end, that he seem'd to have reserv'd those Ages for larger and fuller Demonstrations of his Power and Munifi­cence; [Page 6] and if the people of Lystra had any ground for their exclamation, the Jews had far greater reason to cry out,Note: Acts 14.11. That God was come down to them in the likeness of men. For while other Countries were left in darkness, and like Moles, suffer'd to wander in the shadow and vally of death, they, as if they had been made of purer Clay, seem'd to be the Darlings of Provi­dence, and the Favourites of Heaven. Hea­ven bow'd to them, and under its protection they went, as under a Canopy of State, and might, with greater reason than the Sultan, have challeng'd that lofty Title, The shadow of God: And with that Persian Emperor, stiled themselves, Kinsmen of the Stars. Their eyes saw Miracles almost every day; and with their daily Bread, they receiv'd daily Prodi­gies; and in the midst of their Rebellion, God, like the Sun when smiling through a Cloud, shew'd them a merciful Face; not that he approv'd of their Impiety. but be­cause by these Beams he would warm their hearts into obedience. Their Blessings came down upon them not in drops, but in show­ers; and their Prosperity, like the Cinnamon Tree, was so fragrant, that strangers might smell it a great way off, before they saw it. The Waters of Life were continually flow­ing into their Bosomes; and though God [Page 7] now and then frown'd upon them, (what Father would not sometimes chide his Son?) yet his Indignation, which, like Flints, sent out Fire, upon their penitential Tears, strait way return'd to its former coldness. The Rocks poured them out Rivers of Oyl, they wash'd their Feet in Butter; and one might say of their Land, as he *Aen. Sylvius. of the Isle of Rhodes, They were bless'd with a continual Sunshine. Their Prophets, what mighty, what powerful Men were they? Men that, like Lamps, consum'd their own Oyl, to light their Auditors to Heaven; or like Silkworms, spun out their own Bowels, to deck their Hearers with Garments of Righteousness. Where words could not prevail, Tears were the means to supple and affect them; and, it seems, there is not stronger Rhetorick in the World than these? Here one Prophet spoke like an Ora­tor, there another like a Logician. Here one endeavour'd by Eloquence to charm them, there another by clear Reason to convince them. Here one threatned, there another promis'd. Here one wooed, there another thun­dred. Here one came with a Scepter of Love, there another with a Trumpet of War. Here one offer'd his hand to save them, there an­other made bare his arm of revenge. Here one offer'd an Ark to those that desired mercy, [Page 8] there another rain'd down floods of Curses to drown the obstinate. Here one repre­sented God with his Sword drawn, a smoke going up out of his nostrils, Note: Psal. 18.8. and de­vouring fire out of his mouth, there another follow'd sinners to the very gates of Hell, with offers of mercy in his hand; and while Vengeance was knocking at the door, and the Sword was at their heatts, call'd to them, Turn ye, Turn ye, why will ye dye? And what was all this, but to lay invincible obli­gations on Men to Reform, and by Reforma­tion of their Lives, to arrive at last to that Harbor of Bliss and Immortality, which the great preserver of Men hath prepar'd for those that fear him.

Under the Gospel, as if beyond this there were no other remedy to engage Men to ho­liness, the Son of God himself comes down from Heaven, and turns Preacher. He that commands all the powers of Light and Dark­ness, appears in a Pulpit. He by whom the Worlds were made, leaves the brightness of his Fathers glory, to tell Men, what a Mon­ster Sin is, how odious, how loathsom in the eyes of God; how lovely, how amiable, how beautiful the wayes of God are: con­firms the sayings of all the Prophets of old, assures Men (and certainly he could not tell a lye) that all those Messengers of old were [Page 9] in the right, when they profess'd, That Ini­quity would be Mens ruine, and that at yonder gate no unclean thing should enter, and that God must be prefer'd before all the Riches, Honours and Pleasures of this World, a favour for which we want expression, and which we must draw a vail over, as Timantes the Painter did over the face of Iphigenia's Father, because we cannot reach it with our colours. If a King should send a Messenger with a Pardon to a Malefactor that's ready to be turn'd off of the Ladder, there is no Man but a stranger to pity and compassion, but would speak in commendation of the Royal mercy; but should the King himself approach the place of Execution, and ab­solve him, it's like the unexpected bounty would cast the Malefactor into a Swoon. And then, when the great God of Heaven and Earth made his favor exstatical, went out of the common road of mercy, stept beyond all precedents and examples, encreas'd his kind­ness into perfect miracles, miracles which the Ages before cannot parallel, and the Son of God made his way through all the Clouds of Heaven, to tell Men how God long'd for their society and happiness, we cannot suppose a possibility of greater condescention. And that which still encreases the Wonder, this Son of God entreats, wooes, and beseeches [Page 10] Men to bethink themselves, and dress up their Souls for the next Worlds glory. He that might have come (as one day most certainly he will) with flames of fire, and taken ven­geance on the obstinate, and terrified and startled them into seriousness, and might without a Metaphor as it is, Psal. 45.3. gir­ded his Sword upon his Thigh, and look'd stern on the Rebels, that would not have him reign over them, and frown'd them into Hell. That this Son of God, this Sovereign Prince, whom all the Elements serve, at whose command the Waters drown, and the Fire burns, and the Earth swallows up, that he should come, and draw near the City, and instead of consuming, weep over it, as if he meant to quench the fire of Gods indigna­tion against it; and instead of dooming it outright to eternal vengeance, wish, O that thou hadst known in this thy day, what belongs unto thy peace! Call like a tender compassio­nate Father, How often would I have gather'd you, as a Hen doth gather her Chickens under her wings, and ye would not! That he should bear affronts, and in the midst of those inju­ries, entreat Men to be reconcil'd to him, and seek for a Pardon! That he should conjure Mankind by Tears, and Wounds, and his own Blood, by those very Torments and Agonies he endured for them, to have mercy [Page 11] on themselves, to take a view of the burning Lake beneath, and run away to look upon the joyes above, and be ravish'd with the sight! That he should court them by the sweetest invitations, and the kindest calls; by the greatest offers, and the softest promises; promises of assistance, and of his holy Spi­rit, of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and seal his strong desires and longings after their holiness with his own death, and after his death, being risen again, sends Apostles, and whole Armies of Confessors and Martyrs, to establish those desires, ordain a Function of Men, that might preach those Desires in Mens ears to the Worlds end, this indeed is a con­descention, which the great ministring Spirits in Heaven stand amaz'd at, and may justly be look'd upon to be one of those things, the Angels desire to pry into.

By such astonishing means hath the great immortal God endeavour'd to effect that holiness in Men, that Seriousness, that Piety, that Heavenly-mindedness which he hath appointed to be the only way to endless bliss. Glorious means indeed! But then they are no more but Pearls thrown before Swine where Men consider not how far they are concern'd in the heavenly Call. And what can be the meaning of all these arts and stra­tagems of Divine compassion, and what [Page 12] should make God thus sollicitous and care­ful to procure mans happiness, and how dreadful it must be to neglect so great a sal­vation? To lay all this labour and industry, and indefatigable pains of God before their eyes, where they will not fix their contem­plations on the Remedies intended for their recovery, what is it, but to make a learned Oration to a flock of sheep, to talk to a blind Man of Colours, to discourse Mathema­ticks to one in a Fever, and to prepare Elixirs, and Cordials, for Men depriv'd of life and sense? Without Consideration, we have lit­tle but shape and speech left us, to distinguish us from Beasts; and God clearly loses the virtue of his exhortations and entreaties, ex­cept Consideration sets them home, digests and applies them to the Soul, and the inward thoughts, like Sun-beams in a burning Glass, unite and continue so long upon these spiri­tual objects, till they set the heart on fire.

CHAP. II. Consideration no transitory view of spiritual things, imports laying the heart and mind close unto spiritual Concerns; resembles mag­nifying Glasses, which discover things imper­ceptible by the naked eye. The great Ingre­dients of it, Self-Examination, Expostula­tion, and strong Resolution.

HOW Consideration, Thinking, Pon­dering, Meditation, Contemplation do differ, is not material to enquire. Conside­ration includes all these, and is nothing, but exercising and improving that rational Fa­culty, the great Architect hath bestowed on us, to the glory of God, and the felicity of our immortal Souls. The character St. Ber­nard gives of it, may help to illustrate this Description. It distinguishes, saith he, things confus'd, collecteth such as lie dispers'd, searches and dives into such as are conceal'd and hid, examines probabilities, reflects upon what is done, resolves what to do, and presses towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The Schoolmen are in the right, when they call it, employing the whole understanding [Page 14] about a thing; for indeed a flash of Thinking is no more Consideration, than a few wan­dring sparks can be said to warm a spacious Room: and as in cold Weather Men do not get themselves a heat by a step or two, but by such exercises, as put the Body into a vio­lent motion; so neither will a careless thought now and then, heat the heart within, but Consideration, which puts the Soul into a strong and vigorous motion or agitation, is that which must kindle the holy fire, and shed life into all the faculties of the inward Man.

Not to mention here, that the word was originally us'd to express the industry of Astronomers, who, by diligent contempla­tion, and observation of the stars, their Mo­tion, Position, Conjunction, Influences, &c. gave a judgment of the several Phaenomena, or appearances they met withall, from whence it was afterward applied to Men who seri­ously and attentively ponder things of mo­ment, whether Civil or Sacred. The Scri­pture usually expresses it,Note: [...] Hagg. 1.5, 7. by laying our hearts close to our wayes, as if it were with Con­sideration, as it is with Mens listening to a confus'd noise, and laying their ears close to a Wall, with design to get a more distinct knowledge of it.

[Page 15]And indeed without Consideration, Eter­nal Life, and our Duties in order to it, appear no very great attractives. Consideration clears up those Notions, dispells the Clouds and Mists that dwell upon our Reason, wipes away the Dust, discovers unknown Worlds, and makes even such things as were vulgar obvious before, look with a new face, they being found upon Consideration things of greater consequence, of greater comfort, of greater necessity, of greater virtue and efficacy, than before they were believed to be.

It is much with Consideration, as it is with Microscopes and Magnifying Glasses; what contemptible Creatures do some little Ani­mals▪ and the smaller sorts of Plants appear, while beheld with our naked eye, but view'd through Dioptrical Glasses, what curious Fa­bricks do we spy? How inconsiderable an Insect is a Flie? How despicable a Creature is a Mite? Yet he that through such Glasses, beholds in them all the perfections of the largest Animals, the multiplicity of their parts, the variety of their motions, and how curiously every limb is wrought, how mathe­matically all their little members are framed, and set together, cannot but wonder at the spectacle, and break forth into admiration of the immense Wisdom of their Maker.

[Page 16]Consideration is that Glass, which repre­sents spiritual objects in other colours, than before were observ'd and detected in them. Sin, that look'd but with a faint red before, through this Glass, appears all Scarlet, and Crimson. Gods Laws, which before were hardly regarded so much as humane Injuncti­ons, through this Glass, appear so beautiful, so rational, so wise, so wonderful, so suited to an intelligent Nature, that a Man with Da­vid cannot hold, but must cry out, O how I love thy Law, it is my meditation all the day. The New Jerusalem, which look'd but like an ordinary Building before, when view'd through this Glass, the Towers and Bulwarks of it are seen glittering afar off, the Pearls and precious Stones, it's paved withall, shine with more than ordinary lustre; and that which look'd but dull and weak before, now dazles the Spectators eyes with its oriental bright­ness.

But this will further appear, if we enquire into the essential parts, or necessary ingredi­ents of these spiritual Opticks. Considera­tion, as it is the Sun, that enlightens this Microcosme Man, and irradiates the benight­ed faculties of the Soul so, that it may have this virtue, there is required (and it cannot be Consideration without it) Self-Exami­nation, Expostulation, and strong Resolution.

[Page 17]I. Self-Examination. That man, who ex­amines not his spiritual estate or condition, whether he is that sinner, that shall be ever­lastingly miserable? whether the threatnings of the Gospel concern him? whether he finds those qualifications in himself, which the Son of God requires of all that shall be Heirs of glory? whither he feels those things in his Soul, which men that have a title to the great Inheritance are sensible of? and whither he walks in that strait way, and strives to en­ter in at that narrow gate, the Holy Ghost doth speak of?

He that with Gallio, cares for none of these things, is so far from considering, that he doth not believe the immortality of his Soul, or another World. For were his heart sea­son'd with a sound belief of that future state, he could not but enter into his Closet, and reflect. In this Bible, in this Book, which I do believe contains the Oracles of God, and his peremptory Will, concerning the salva­tion of men, I find stubborn, careless, uncon­verted sinners adjudg'd to eternal torments; I find God protest, he will know none in the last day, so as to shew them favor, but such as dare deny themselves for Heaven, and hearti­ly endeavor to do the Will of their Father, which is in Heaven; I find God swear, that men who prefer their Farms and Oxen, and [Page 18] secular Concerns, before his Injunctions, and Commands, shall never taste of the great Supper of the Lamb.

Am I one of these stubborn, unconverted, careless men or no? Why should I be afraid to ask such a question, when there is no less than Eternity in the case? If I am none of this number,1 Sam. 15.14. What means the bleating of Sheep, and the low­ing of Oxen in mine ears? What means my earthly mindedness? What means my living in wilful Contempt of so many commands of the Son of God? I take no pains to be sav'd; some little formalities and complements of Religion serve my turn, and satisfie my Conscience. I can put off the great God of Heaven with the Worlds lea­vings, and throw him a dull heartless prayer at night, when I have been wallowing in sin all day. I am for no devotion that's either expensive or troublesom to flesh and blood, and such ejaculations as do not molest me in my pleasures; and as my flesh can easily spare without any detriment in its satisfaction, I am willing to lay upon Gods Altar. I feel little or no sorrow for sin, no remorse, no compunctions, when I offend a gracious God. A temporal advantage affects and revives me more, than all the joyes of Heaven. If I do sometimes resolve, to leave either my grosser [Page 19] vices, or my more secret iniquities, the next company or divertisement takes me off again; and I make no more of breaking my solemn promises of better obedience, than if God were a meer stock, or stone, that takes no notice of affronts, and injuries. Self-denial I am so great a stranger to, that I know not what it means. The graces and fruits of Gods Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Faith, Temperance, Meekness, Patience, Long-suffering, have so little of my desires and af­fections, that I think it but time and labour lost to bethink my self how to be Master of any of them. Why should I flatter and de­ceive my self? Why should I sooth my self into kind thoughts of my condition, that is so apparently dangerous? Thus it is with me, why should I deny it? Why should I call light darkness, and darkness light; put bit­ter for sweet, and sweet for bitter? Whom do I cheat all this while, is it not my own Soul? And what shall I gain by it in the end? Shall I think my self sufficiently holy, when I am so little acquainted with the first rudi­ments of Holiness? Shall I think my self a Child of God, when that which I do, is fitter for a Child of the Devil, than for a Favou­rite of Heaven? Conversion, or turning to God, which the Holy Ghost doth so often and with that vehemence and earnestness in­culcate, [Page 20] implies an universal change of my disposition, and inclinations. And where is that alteration, that renovation of the Mind, Will, and Affections? My Affections are car­ried out after Froth, and smoke as much as ever. My Love is set on Trifles, and is re­gardless of the highest and chiefest good, as much as ever. I hate Seriousness, and delight in childish, impertinent Gayeties as much as ever. The promises of the Gospel are as in­considerable in my eyes, and the riches of this World as glorious and ravishing as ever; and I can dispense with the want of spiritual consolations, while I have but my share in these outward comforts. My feet run in the wayes of destruction, and my eyes are dazled with external pomp and grandeur as much as ever. An amorous Song is more pleasing to me, than the most harmonious Psalm. The Word of God is but a dead Letter to me, while a Romance, or a Book that Treats of Folly and Vanity, Transports me into more than ordinary content and satisfaction: And what I must eat? And what I must drink? And wherewithall I shall be cloathed? Are questions I have a far greater desire to be re­solved in, than to know, what I must do to please God, and to be happy for ever? If I have made light of the Thunders and Threat­nings of Scripture, I do so still. If I have [Page 21] prefer'd my secular Interest, before Gods Ho­nour and Glory, I do so still. If I have feared Men, more than God, I do so still. If I have been loth to do good with the Temporal blessings God hath confer'd upon me, I am so still. And what Sins I leave, it's more because I have no inclination to them, or because I am afraid they'll spoil and blemish my Repu­tation in the World, than because I love that God who made me, and hath obliged me by a thousand Favours to esteem and prize him above all. And is this the Coat of the Sons of God? Is this the Livery of a Christian in­deed? Is this done like a Man that lives upon Gods Bounty, is fed by his Charity, supported by his Alms, and maintain'd from his Store­house, and cannot subsist one moment with­out his Concourse, and hath not a better Friend in all the World than him, who is the Fountain of living Waters? Consideration, one great design of it being to know how the case stands between God and our own Souls, such a Self-examination must of necessity be the Corner stone of this spiritual Building, and comparing our Lives with the Rules of the Gospel, and the proper characters of such as are in a likely way to enjoy God for ever, may justly challenge the first Seat in this in­tellectual Paradise. But then as building of a stately Gate without a House answerable [Page 22] to it, doth but expose the Builder to derision and contempt; so Self-Examination, with­out a serious Expostulation with our own hearts, is but to make the Accuser of our Brethren laugh at our vain attempts, and God scorn the endeavour, that could be crusht in the Bud, and tired before half its Race is run.

II. Expostulation rouzes the Soul from her Slumber, and drives it away from the soft Doune it would have rested and repos'd it self upon, and gives the first blow (for Self-Examination only threatens it) to that Tree of Death, I mean, to the reigning power of Sin; and I see not how Sin can shelter it self any longer, or what excuses it can make for its stay and continuance, where the Soul doth summon it to appear before the Bar of Con­science, and enters into such reasonings and interrogations as these: Are these things so, and do I stand trifling with my salvation? Do I run the hazard of everlasting flames, and do I lie playing in the Suburbs of destruction? Either I believe an eternity of Torments, that shall attend a careless sinful life, or I do not: If not, why dare not I profess my de­nial? Why do I play the Hypocrite, and make the World think I do believe it? What's the reason that I cannot shake off the fears of [Page 23] it, if I would never so fain? Why does some­thing within me check me, when I would be so profane as to deny it? Can I ever be seri­ous, and not believe it? But then if I believe it, what a mad Man am I to loyter, when the Candle I am allow'd to work by is almost burnt out, and I know not how soon it may please my great Master to extinguish it? Do I lead a life which is the readiest way to eter­nal Vengeance, and shall I not step back and prevent it? Can I imagine God will blow out that everlasting Fire, to gratifie my vici­ous temper? or destroy that Tophet, out of tenderness to my Lusts and Corruptions? Can I conceive it possible, that God will go from his Word, to please a stubborn Sinner? or prove a Lyar, that I may go with greater ease to Heaven? Do I know that I shall be mise­rable, if I continue in that course I have held on in hitherto, and am I in love with eternal ruine? Am I certain that Iniquity will be my confusion, and am I resolv'd to dye? I have all the reason in the World to believe, that it was the Son of God that was the Author of those Threatnings and Comminations I find in the Gospel: Do I believe him to be the Son of God, and can I imagine that the least tittle of his words will perish? I have run up and down in the World these many years, and hunted-after those Vanities which [Page 24] sensual Men do dote upon: But will these save me when I dye? Will not the remem­brance of my eager pursuit after these But­terflies and Gaudes, fill me with anguish and sorrow? Have I liv'd in the World all this while, and am not I nearer Heaven than I was some years ago? Must my body engross all my endeavours, and must my Soul be star­ved? I have a Soul that cannot dye, and must not dye, and must shortly appear before Gods Tribunal, and shall not I study its safety and happiness as much as I am able? Lord God! should Death arrest me before I have made my Calling and Election sure, how fear­ful, how wretched would my condition be? should it fall to my share to howle in out­ward Darkness, how should I curse the day that ever I was born! should those Tortures the Damn'd feel be inflicted on me, how should I wish that I had liv'd all my dayes in Desarts and Wildernesses, and spent my whole time in praying and praising of God, and given all my Goods to the Poor, and liv'd upon Bread and Water, and undergone the greatest hardships and severities, out­pray'd a Saint, and out-fasted a Hermit, ra­ther than ventur'd my Soul in so slight a bot­tom, as worldly mindedness must necessarily be! should that burning Lake be my Habita­tion for ever, O how I should imprecate all [Page 25] my merry Companions that did allure me to run with them into Folly and Vanity! O how I should wish that my eyes had never seen them; that my ears had never heard their names; that my tongue had been torn into a thousand pieces, when first it entertain'd Discourse with them; that my Arms had been cut off, when they embrac'd those plea­sures, which like Syrens cheat men into mi­sery and calamity! O how I should curse the place where my Sins were committed, the persons that occasion'd them, the hour that ever I thought of them! O how I should wish that I had improv'd those opportunities I do now make light of, and believed Moses and the Prophets that gave me warning, and turn'd to God, while the doors of Grace stood open, and applied my self to the Mi­nisters of the Gospel, and taken directions from them what I must do to be sav'd! How should the possibility of such misery fright and terrifie me into watchfulness and serious­ness? Is not Eternity more to me, than a mo­ment of time? Can that Gold and Silver I enjoy and do so much prize and adore, be any motive to the great Judge of Life and Death to absolve me? Can the pleasures of Sin be antidotes against Sin? or my Jollities procure a pardon in that day, when God shall judge men according to the Gospel? [Page 26] What makes me thus stupid, that I should forgo the Milk and Honey of Canaan, for the pitiful Garlicks and Onions of Egypt? What Devil doth possess me, that I should prefer Dancing and Revelling for a few hours, be­fore endless joy? where is my reason? What's become of my understanding? Am I be­witch'd, besotted, beguil'd, that I should be­lieve a few flattering motions of flesh, and blood, before all the Oracles and Inspirations of the Holy Ghost? Can there be any thing more reasonable than Christs precepts? What is there in them that should discourage me? If God had commanded severer things, is not Heaven recompence enough? I that forbear the greatest Delicacies, shun the choicest Dainties, will not be tempted to eat of the most palatable Dish, when I am sensible it will bring upon me the pain either of Collic or Strangury. Nay, I that lying under a ra­ging painful Distemper, wish my self a Beggar, or the poorest Body alive, and would be con­tent to stoop to the meanest offices, so I might be but freed from the Malady which tor­ments me, can I scruple to obey these Laws, when it is to avoid an eternity of pain and flames? Was not Dives as stubborn as I can be, and have not I reason to believe if he were on earth again, he would think the Law of Charity the easiest and the reasonablest [Page 27] Law imaginable? Have not I reason to believe he would go beyond Zachaeus, leave himself but just enough to live on, and study how to do good with the rest? Have not I reason to believe, that the Lawes of Christ would seem very facil and practicable to him? Can I think he would say, A Little more sleep, and a little more slumber, and delay his obedi­ence? He that hath felt the misery of another World, would think nothing too good, no­thing too dear, nothing too costly, to sacrifice to him who is the King immortal, invisible, blessed for evermore. God that gave me these Laws, and hath entail'd everlasting bliss on my sincere obedience, certainly knew best what was fit and expedient for me; and he [...]hat is acquainted with my sitting down, and mine uprising, and had a hand in my frame, can I think he would prescribe me any thing prejudicial to my happiness? These pre­cepts, as they are effects of the greatest wis­dom, so they cannot but be highly beneficial, and promote my spiritual interest, for they drop from a God that's infinitely good, as well as infinitely wise; so that not to submit to them, is not only to stand in my own light, and to hinder my Soul from its proper food and nourishment, but to make my self wiser than the Almighty, and to extol my reason above his Omniscience, and to accuse his im­mense [Page 28] wisdom of rashness and folly, and shall I add blasphemy to my disobedience? Am I afraid God is not enrag'd enough against me, or that his Anger is not red enough? shall I throw brimstone into the flame, to make that consuming fire more terrible? Is it such a pleasure to have God my Foe? Is it such a sa­tisfaction to have him, that can destroy both Soul and Body into Hell, for my Adversary? such Labyrinths, such Inconveniences do I cast my self into by my sinful life, and are these encouragements to continue in it? Is this the Wedding garment I may triumph in? Shall I sing in Chains, rejoyce in Fetters, glory in my Shackles, be proud of the Devils Service, boast of my Slavery? When is it that I in­tend to be clean, shall I delay it one moment longer, that know not but I may be in Hell before the Clock doth strike again? Dull blockish heart, what dost thou mean? Dost thou stand upon the brink of destruction, and art thou not afraid? Dost thou see a cru­cified Jesus stretching forth his Arms to em­brace thee, and dost thou feel no warmth, no heat, no zeal, no affection? Dost thou see the great burning Lake before thee, and dost not thou quake and tremble? Dost thou see the Revenger of blood upon thy heels, and wilt not thou run into the City of Refuge? Dost thou see the Angel of the Lord preparing to [Page 29] rain down Fire and Brimstone on thee, and wilt thou not save thy self in Zoar? What hinders thee? What is it stops thy progress? Art thou still in love with that which will undo thee? Why should Father and Mo­ther, Wife and Children, Brethren and Sisters, Lands and Houses make thee lose a Crown? Hath Gods Favour no Temptation? Is there no Charm in his Love? Hath Heaven no Beauty? If thou must be miserable, hadst thou not better be so here, than hereafter? Shall the present Food flatter thee into eter­nal hunger? And because the Tree is pleasant to the eye, wilt thou prepare for being ex­pell'd out of Paradise for ever? Will a few pleasant Cups counterballance thy everlast­ing Thirst? Wilt thou venture an everlasting storm, for a present calm? And run the hazard▪ of an endless Tempest, for a few months Recreation? O Wretch that I am! the Devil was never crucified for me, never spilt one drop of blood for me, never endu­red Agonies for me; he never wore a Crown of Thorns for me; he never tasted of the shameful death of the Cross for me, and shall I flie into his Arms? How often hath he dis­appointed me in my hopes and desires, and shall I fawn upon the Enemy? lay force upon his Kingdom of darkness, in despight of all the Bars and Bolts, and Guards which the [Page 30] great King of Heaven puts between me and Damnation? I have been abused and cheat­ed by Sin these many years, and shall I be cheated still? Does not my blood rise at the very thoughts of it? I that will not be cheat­ed in my Trade or Dealings with men, shall I suffer my self to be imposed upon by a lying Devil? And when I study how to be reven­ged on him that hath sold me a Peble for a Pearl, a Bristol stone for a Diamond, and en­deavour to prevent the like deception for the time to come, shall I in these great con­cerns of my Soul, where the Cheat is so ap­parent, where to discover it, I need do no more, but open my eyes, where God and his holy Angels, and all the Ministers of the Gospel assure me of the fallacy, where the Cheat is of that dangerous consequence too▪ borders upon eternal Damnation, shall I be so disgenerous, so base, so low-spirited, as to suffer my self to be thus grosly abused, and deceiv'd? O Monster! Why so cruel to my own Soul? Why so barbarous to my immor­tal part? Why so inhumane to my spiritual interest? Why so mad to run into the fire? Why such an enemy to my own good? Have not I enemies enough, but I must make my self my greatest Foe? Shall I join with that roaring Lyon, and teach him how to devour me? Shall I give him advantages against my [Page 31] self, first let him deceive me, and then laugh at me? first let him seduce me into the Net, and then punish me for being taken? I be­lieve my Children, if they tell me that they have seen such a House on fire; and believe my Neighbors, if they assure me there are Thieves broke into my House; and believe a Physitian, who affirms, That such a Powder or Herb is perfect Poyson; and shall not I believe that God who hath prepar'd, and fore-ordain'd these everlasting burnings I hear and read of, and must needs know the terror of them, shall not I believe him, when he tells me, and protests upon the word of a God, that if I do not betake my self be­times to another course of life, I shall assu­redly fall a Prey to those endless burnings? Shall not I believe that God that feeds me, and protects me, and knows all things, and can do all things, and never intended me any harm, but hath given me such evidences of his kind inclinations to me, that I must de­ny my own Being, if I question his willing­ness to have me come to the knowledge of the truth: I choose a present Agony to keep off an After-evil, and am content to prolong torment, so I may but prolong this mortal life; and shall not I, to avoid those endless tortures, mortifie a silly Lust, subdue my ex­travagant Desires, and inflict so much Pen­nance [Page 32] on my self, as to cashier all darling and bosome iniquities? What means my Con­science, it's not quiet under all the pleasures of sin, it's ready to accuse me; when it gets me alone, it twitches me, I find it is a hard matter to rock it asleep; and when I think it's fast, like a Gyant it awakes again, and frights me with flashes of the next Worlds flames, and shall I break through all those Funeral Torches, to invade Damnation? Such Expostulations, if the heart be not all Rock and Adamant, cannot but startle the Sinner in his Licentiousness, make him stamp with his feet, and force him into other resolutions, which is the third ingredient of this great Art, Consideration.

III. Strong Resolution. This is the neces­sary consequent of the preceding Expostu­lations, if they be serious, and not used only out of formality; and the Soul, that is by this time stung into a sense of its danger, and cryes out, Lord, what have I done? will soon fall from thence into such resolutions as these. Does the case stand thus, and must my sinful life expire into the Worm that dies not? must my Frolicks dye into endless howlings? and must my sport of sin be crusht into never dying anguish? and my wilful contempt and neglect of Gods Will, be tur­ned [Page 33] into Chains of Darkness for ever? Is it so as God hath told me? (And why should he tell me so, if it were not so? Why should he fright me with painted fire? And how could it consist with his Wisdom and Integri­ty to deceive me with Bugbears, and Chime­ra's?) If this be the fate of a sinful life, then tell me no more of Dalila's, tell me no more of Impediments or Excuses, or Delays. If this be the fearful Exit of Sensuality and Irreligi­ousness, there is no dallying with sin, I'll get rid of it, whatever it cost me; I'll hearken to its soft Airs no longer; I'll be charm'd no more with the lovely looks of that Harlot; its curious Dresses, its trcacherous Glances shall commit a Rape upon my Affections no longer. I will not for a few jolly hours ne­glect my eternal safety, Eternity is not a thing to be made light of; I believe there is such a thing, and why should I be such a Changeling as not to provide for it with all imaginable care and industry? I am gone. Farewell Applause and Greatness of the World. Farewell ye little shooting flames of sensual pleasures, which serve only to de­lude, not to revive or enlighten an immortal Soul. Farewell my old Acquaintance, that cocker'd and helpt to please those Lusts I now abhor. Farewell ye dangerous Friends, that would have drag'd me into Hell, and would [Page 34] have had me kind to you even into eternal fire. Farewell unhappy men, who would have had me venture on that burthen of Gods anger, which Devils cannot bear, and tempted me to be miserable for companies sake, I must either have no peace with God, or none with you. The friendship of God and the World are incompatible, and would you have me leave my God, my happiness, my joy, my comfort, my refuge, my hiding place, my riches, my treasure, to follow you to a place of endless torments. I see, I see, what all your follies will come to; I am convinc'd, that if there be a happiness hereafter, as I am persuaded there is, the course ye take, cannot be the way to that Paradise. Molest me no more, I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep Gods righteous judgments. I see a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God, I behold afar off a House made without hands, eternal in the Heavens. Farewell temptations, farewell corrupted de­ceitful heart, I'll believe thy false suggestions no longer, I have a surer word of Prophecy to lay hold of. How often hast thou taught me to cover my sins with plausible names, that I might not be forc'd to leave them? How hast thou prompted me to call my Pride, De­cency; my Covetousness, Frugality; my Drunkenness, Good Fellowship; my Revenge, [Page 35] Vindication of my Honour; my Unclean­ness and Lasciviousness, impossibility of re­sisting the Dictates of Nature; my slander­ing of others, saying, but what I hear: as if God did not see my inside, as well as out­side, or could be deceiv'd with shadow and varnish, and were not resolv'd to wash away these curious Colours with Rivers of fla­ming Brimstone. How often hast thou bid me call my greater enormities, little sins, and made me look on them, as men do on objects, through the wrong end of a Perspective Glass, as if God were altogether such an one as my self, and would therefore be contented to call my Favourite Vices Peccadillo's, be­cause my self was loth to call them by ano­ther name. How often hast thou flatter'd me with deceitful riches, if I would but give my self that liberty my irreligious Neighbors use. How often hast thou tempted me with the famous examples of prosperous men, that have been strangers to Seriousness, and Hea­venly-mindedness. How hast thou dispara­ged Piety to me, as a sneaking qualification, and represented Sin as the Royal way to Credit and Reputation? Away with these Fables, I'll be trepann'd and sooth'd no more; tell Children of such bables, I know too much to be ravish'd with these borrow'd glo­ries. How often hast thou promis'd me long [Page 36] life, and ease and plenty, if I would stream out my golden years in vanity, and brutish delight; as if my youth had been too good for God; and God, when he woo'd me to obedience, came but to torment me, like that evil spirit in the Gospel, before my time, as if I were the great disposer of my time, and could command my age to flourish at four­score. How hast thou bid me delay my Re­pentance and Seriousness, and given me hopes that I should find a convenient time hereafter, when I could keep Sin and the World no longer? as if Repentance were in my own hands, and I could command it to attend me at my pleasure, and as if it were a work to be dispatch'd with a sigh or groan How hast thou tempted me to sin, under a pretence that none should see it; or if the Sin could not be kept secret, none should know that I had a hand in't, as if God did not see by night as well as by day, and a private corner could keep out Omnipotence; or as if God sate like an idle Pilot in Heaven, with­out regarding how the great ship of this World is governed? How hast thou, under the colour of a single sin, involv'd me into a necessity of adding another, and been rest­less till I have added more to support the rest? And how treacherously hast thou bid me walk in the counsel of the ungodly, when it [Page 37] was but to engage me to stand in the way of sinners, and then to make me sit down in the seat of the scornful? How hast thou prompted me to palliate my Offences, and to lay them at other mens doors? How hast thou bid me trust to broken Reeds, and lean on props which were rotten and decay'd? I have seen enough of thy falshood and in­constancy, I'll be held no longer, I'll stay no longer in Sodom. These flowry meadows, this enamel'd grass shall make me lie down no more, I see there is Death in the Pot, and the great day will be upon me for all the seeming delay, before this poor besotted World is aware of.

I come Lord, I'll stand out against thy calls no longer; I do hear thy voice, and I'll harden my heart no more. O my God, wilt thou receive a Wretch that hath sin'd thus long, and trampled on thy Laws, and played with the bread which should have nourish'd him for ever? Wilt thou take him into thy bosome, that hath been a Rebel, a Traytor against thee these many years? I know the World will laugh at me for this resolution. But I'll give them leave to mock; if I can but get into yonder blessed and everlasting Man­sions, laugh on ye mad men, I have a God will honour me. If there be a future judg­ment, and men shall be rewarded according [Page 38] to their works, and God will be so severe against stubborn sinners as he hath threatned, (and indeed he cannot be God without it, God, and not be true to his word, implies a contradiction:) then sure I am, the rich, the voluptuous, the carnal men of this world, that make such provision for the flesh, to ful­fill the Lusts thereof, must certainly be in a more miserable condition than I. Methinks I see how they tremble before the Throne. They thought it below them here on earth to make Religion their business, methinks I see how asham'd they are of their folly, how the wretches blush to see that God hath cho­sen the foolish things of the world to con­found the wise. Methinks I hear them cry out to Rocks and Mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. O how their thoughts at that time will all be changed, and all their Triumphs be turn'd into Funerals? I'll be wise before it be too late, I will not hazard my Soul as most men do, O how I blame my self for serving Sin and the World thus long? Had God snatcht me away in that dismal service, how dread­ful would my wages have been? Blessed be God, who hath been thus patient with me, I'll trespass no longer upon his Long-suffer­ing. Come ye Ministers of the Gospel, teach [Page 39] me what I must do to be saved; lead me, di­rect me, I'll follow, and neither Men nor De­vils shall draw me away. I have done with these stolen waters; I see no felicity that ri­ses from bathing in those dangerous streams; they may lull and harden for a while, but leave the Soul empty. If any Man had rea­son to find satisfaction in them, Solomon had, who had Riches and Power, and Lust enough to range where he pleas'd, yet when he had walk'd through the whole Garden of sensual Pleasures, cropt the choicest Flowers, fed up­on the most luscious Fruits, left nothing un­attempted to know the utmost reach of that Fools Paradise, search'd all the by-places and corners, where they said the treasures of sa­tisfaction lay, unravel'd all the secret In­trigues of sin, ransack'd all the hidden my­steries of it, when he had thus wander'd up and down, and almost lost himself in that unhappy Labyrinth, the Verdict he gives of all, is this, Vanity of Vanities, mighty No­things, perfect Trouble and Vexation of Spi­rit; and then protects, that the only satis­faction that's solid, and like to last, lies in fea­ring God, and keeping his Commandments. That's it, I see, Men are forc'd to confess at last, and too often when it is too late. I see most Men are of another mind when they come to dye, to what they were in the time [Page 40] of their strength, and health, and liberty, and that seriousness, they formerly derided, they then wish for, when the Sentence is passing upon them, Cut them down, why do they cumber the ground? The Pearl they might formerly have had at a reasona­ble price, and would not, they now would purchase with ten thousand worlds, if they had them, and cannot. This it is, to turn the grace of God into wantonness, to play with the glorious message sent to them by the great Bridegroom of their Souls, and to make light of invitations to the Sup­per of the Lamb! O folly! O madness! O monstrous stupidity! O my Soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united. I'll take warn­ing by these sad examples. Their Imprudence shall make me wise. Their indiscretion shall make me take another course. I see there are snares laid for my Soul. I am beset with Temptations. If I tremble at the main O­cean, a shallow Puddle is offer'd me to drown my self in. What should make the Devil so busie, so earnest, so industrious to draw my Soul away from the Fountain of living waters, without all peradventure he fees, what happiness it's capable of, even of a happiness, which knows neither measure nor end. He sees the inclinations and pro­pensions [Page 41] it hath to take up with God alone; and to divert the stream, he dresses out sin in several garbs, that if one will not tempt me another may. But, O my God, sin shall insinuate into my favour no more, it shall creep into my bosome no more; I'll avoid all familiarity with it; I'll hugg the Mon­ster no more; I'll take it no longer for a harmless thing; it shall be my Darling, my Benjamin no more, my eyes shall be no lon­ger pleas'd with viewing of it, my tongue shall commend and praise it no more; I'll open my door to the fatal Guest no more. My faint oppositions shall be turn'd into stronger resistances, I'll call up my blood and courage to withstand its juggles; I have re­solv'd, and my heart shall be carried out after this Idol no more. It was resolution made the three Men, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abed­nego, adventure into a fiery Furnace. It was resolution made St. Paul ready not to suffer only, but to dye at Jerusalem for the Name of Jesus. It was resolution made David's Worthies enter into the Camp of the Phi­listines, and draw water out of the Well of Bethlehem. It was resolution made Ignatius despise Fire, and Sword, and wild Beasts, to procure the favour of him whom his Soul did love. It was resolution made that [Page 42] Grecian *Tertullian. Apolog. c. 50. Woman endure the Rack, and when prompted by the Executioner to confess her Asso­ciates in the Treason, bite her tongue to pie­ces, that she might not be in a possibility of betraying her Partners in the Conspiracy. It was resolution made *Id. Ibid. Mutius stand still, and unconcern'd while his right hand burn'd. It was resolution made Empedocles sacrifice himself to the flames of Aetna. It was resolution made Anaxarchus, when his bones were crusht, make sport with his torments, and cry out, Break, break the Carcass of Anaxarchus, but his mind you shall never break. It was resolu­tion made Regulus fling himself into the merciless Arms of his Enemies, and suffer himself to be stung and prickt to death. It was resolution made Job bear his losses and ulcers with invincible magnani­mity, and as *Tertull. lib! de patientia. c. 14. Erumpentes be­stiolas in eosdem specus & pastus foraminosae car­nis ludendo revo­cibat. he said, play with the Worms that bred in his sores, and as they were craw­ling out, drive them back into the holes and pastures of his putrified flesh. It was resolu­lution made David run through a Troop, and leap over Walls, Psal. 18.29. It was his reso­lution made these words drop from him, I [Page 43] have sworn, and will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I will speak of thy testimonies before Kings, and will not be a­sham'd, and I will delight my self in thy Com­mandments; my hands will I lift up unto thy precepts which I have lov'd, and I will meditate in thy statutes, Psal. 119.46.106. And why should not my resolution prompt me to the same generous enterprizes? Why should o­ther Men, to purchase an immortal same, re­solve to lose their ease, and lives, and estates, and all that's dear, and pleasing to them here below, and I not resolve to lose my sins, my lusts, my pleasures, to gain an everlasting in­heritance? My heart is ready, my heart is ready: A gracious God invites me, a loving Saviour calls to me from his Cross, wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, a holy sanctifying Spi­rit beckens me. The great God that might laugh at my calamity, and mock when my fear comes, because he hath call'd; and I re­fus'd, because he so often stretched forth his hands unto me, and I have not regarded, This great, this tender Father, after all the wrongs, and injuries, and abuses, and inso­lencies I have offer'd him, is willing to re­ceive me, provided I'll be faithful to him, run no more after other Lovers, and resign [Page 44] my self to be guided, govern'd, and directed by him. And can I resist that Love? Can I harden my heart against these Charms? Can I refuse this kindness? Spurn at this favor? Slight this stupendious blessing? And pro­voke him to swear in his wrath, That I shall never enter into his rest!. No, no, I yield, I render myself Captive. I am convinc'd, that Gods service is perfect freedom. He that enters upon it, is under the government of a lawful Prince, his life is sweet and easie, he feels no Tyranny, no Oppression, the King with everlasting kindness visits him, and guides his feet into the wayes of peace, gives his Angels charge to keep him in his going out, and his coming in, and will not suffer any of his bones to be broken. He is with him in distress, and when he weeps, holds a bottle under to catch his tears, Psal. 56.8. He binds up his wounds, and is a wall of brass to him, that mocks at the flashes of Hell, and dashes all the fiery darts of the Devil. Here men are free from flavish fear, as being under the wings of a Father. Here nothing but Love rules in their hearts, which makes their yoke easie, and their burthen light; makes the strait gate pleasant, and the narrow way full of delight and satisfaction. Here peace of Conscience reigns, and the Subjects of this Kingdom are acquainted with joy in the [Page 45] Holy Ghost. Here men are freed from the curse of the Law, and their minds are em­ploy'd in the noblest contemplations. Here they dwell in the secret place of the most High, and abide, under the shadow of the Al­mighty. Here I'll fix, here I'll build Taberna­cles, for it's good to be here. Away with all suggestions that would make me unwilling or backward to this work. Away with all thoughts that would discourage me. Away with all imaginations that would possess me with misconstructions of the wayes of God. Ye are all miserable comforters, ye seek not the good, but the loss and desolation of my Soul. I'll seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; I'll set my affections on things above, and not on things on earth; I am dead to all these sublunary Vanities, and my life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ, who is my life, shall appear, then shall I also ap­pear with him in glory.

Without such resolutions as these, Consi­deration is lame and feeble: it's practical Consideration that must do the work, and it is these resolutions make it so, the necessity of which Consideration is the next thing I must endeavor to demonstrate.

CHAP. III. The absolute necessity of Consideration in order to a serious life. Gods frequent commands to that purpose. Our Reason and the power of Consideration we are furnish'd, or endu'd with, prov'd to be given us for this end. With­out it, Men have cause to suspect, that their Reformation is counterfeit.

WHat we have said hitherto, is not a thing indifferent, left to our liberty and discretion to mind or to neglect it, as we shall see occasion. If labouring after a bet­ter life, if endeavouring to get a share in the incorruptible Crown of glory, if attempts to compass the eternal felicity of our Souls, if studying how we may be admitted into the Quire of Angels, and enjoy the society of the First-born which are written in Heaven, if contriving how we may arrive to that ful­ness of joy God hath both reveal'd and pro­mis'd, be indispensably necessary, this Consi­deration must be so too. If Self-preservation be not a thing indifferent, Consideration can­not possibly be so. For the great object of this Consideration is, how we may preserve our selves from being undone for ever; how [Page 47] we may guard our Souls from everlasting perdition; how we may avoid the second death; and how we may make our happiness lasting and durable proof against the gates of Hell, and the assaults of that roaring Ly­on, who walks about seeking whom he may devour.

God that commands all the powers of Light and Darkness, and hath the same pow­er over us, that the Potter hath over his Ves­sel, and hath made us capable of being go­vern'd by Moral Laws, and hath created us on purpose to be ready at his beck, and may force us into obedience by plagues and thun­ders, if we are loth to be courted by smiles and favours, and afar off sees all the dangers we are subject to, and knows what Armies of Enemies lie in ambush, and watch our fall; it's he that peremptorily commands this Consideration. A Sovereign Prince expects to be obey'd, and he that dares refuse, or slight his reasonable command, is justly lookt upon as a stranger to Loyal principles: and well may God, who is All-wise, and can do nothing that's unreasonable, expect submissi­on to a precept so great, so good, so advanta­gious both to Soul and Body, as will appear in the sequele. Consider your wayes, is a Law which God (to shew he is in good earnest) inculcates twice in the same Prophecy, [Page 48] Hagg. 1.5, 7. And for that the Dream is doubled, it is because the thing is establish'd by God, said Joseph to Pharaoh, Gen. 41.32. The same we may say of repeated Exhortations. And indeed when the famous Moses bids the people under his charge and care to keep the statutes and the commandments which God had graciously vouchsafed them, that it might go well with them, and with their children after them; the great preparative he requires for this religious frame, is Consideration, Deut. 4.39, 40. as if without this, all attempts of obedience were vain, and all endeavors to serve God in Spirit and in Truth, were no more but water spilt upon the ground. It was upon the same account, that St. Paul, as quick-sighted as the other, peremptorily tells the Romans, that they would never practi­cally approve that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, without they were transform'd by the renewing of their mind, i. e. made a new improvement of their minds by Consideration. For Consideration re­builds the house that's fallen to the ground, makes the mind new, removes old prejudi­ces against a serious life, and transforms the judgment into other thoughts and concepti­ons, carries away the rubbish which oppres­sed the Soul, and leaves it not till it becomes a new creature, Rom. 12.2. What can St. Pe­ter, [Page 49] 1 Pet. 1.13. mean, when he presses the Christians of those dayes, to gird up the loins of their minds, but this great Duty we discourse of; Consideration as it is a convo­cation of our thoughts, so it ties and unites those thoughts to the great object, the one thing necessary, and as it were girds the Soul, that it may keep within the rules of the Word of God, and may not run out into strange desires, or inordinate affections, but be more expedite and nimble in her Travels to the Land of Promise.

The truth is, from the mind, as from Aarons head, the precious oyntment runs down to the skirts of our garments. This is the great wheel which sets the lesser orbs a going, and if that be impregnated with principles of goodness and seriousness, and these enlarg'd and spread by Consideration, the will and the affections will soon be persuaded to fol­low that star, till it brings them to Bethlehem, the house of mercy. In our civil affairs, it's the mind must first be fully persuaded either of the necessity, or conveniency, or danger, or advantage of things, before any wise re­solution can be taken; and we may justly conclude that in spiritual concerns, men be­gin at the wrong end, if they do not season their minds with such reflections as may make a deep impression on the will and affections. [Page 50] For that these may resolve to follow God, and may be ravish'd with his love, and apply themselves to his wayes, and may hate every false path, and detest their former exorbitan­ces and deviations, we must necessarily sup­pose there must be some spring to feed them, which Spring can be nothing else but Consi­deration.

And because the more objects, the more flowers this Consideration feeds upon, the more effectual it is, and the greater serious­ness it produces, and the most signal change it works, the Holy Ghost therefore in order to this end, particularizes several things, and commands them to be taken in, as promoters of this excellent work. Hence it is that we are sometimes call'd upon to consider our latter end, Deutr. 32.29. sometimes the works of God, Eccles. 7.13. sometimes the last judgment, or the great account men must give of their works, whether they have been good, or whether they have been evil, Psal. 50.22. sometimes the testimonies of God, the sweetness, beauty, perfection, worth and excellency of them, Psal. 119.95. some­times the future reward that God hath pro­mised to them that fear him, 2 Tim. 2.7. sometimes the holy Life, Example, and Chri­stian constancy and magnanimity of Christ Jesus, Hebr. 12.3. sometimes Gods correction [Page 51] and chastisement, together with our sins, Hab. 2.15. and all, because these will help Consi­deration throughly to weigh a sinners spiritual condition, and to lay it in the balances toge­ther, as Job expresses himself, Job 6.2.

Nay of that Necessity doth the Holy Ghost make this Consideration, that it seems, God (such a Lover he is of the happiness of Mankind) is not at ease without it. He is forc'd as it were to take humane passions upon him, to express his displeasure against the neglect of this sovereign medicine. He seems disconsolate, if men slight this balm, this water of life, this eye-falve. He calls to Heaven and Earth to mourn with him, be­cause his people will not consider what they are a doing, and whither they are going, and what will become of them, Es. 1.3. He seems griev'd and dejected, because they consider not the operations of his hands, and what noble Beings he hath given them; how he hath made them but a little lower than the Angels, crown'd them with glory and ho­nour, and infus'd Souls into them capable of living for ever under the beatifical vision and presence of Almighty God, Es. 5.12. He seems to droop; and he that is eternally happy in himself, takes on, as if his happiness, his joy, his satisfaction were interrupted, be­cause men consider not that he remembers all [Page 52] their impieties; that he sits on the Battle­ments of Heaven, and beholds all; that there is not any creature that is not manifest in his sight, and that all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom they have to do, Hos. 7.2.

Indeed God is resolved to deal with us as with rational Creatures, not as with Brutes and Engines; as with free Agents, not as with Machines, and works of mens hands, and that's the reason why he is so earnest for this Duty. Without all peradventure, God could force men into seriousness; and he that commanded light out of darkness, might take the sinner up in his arms, and carry him even against his will into that banquetting house, the banner whereof is Love; and might set mens Souls, as the Workman doth his Clock, that they should not fail of run­ning the Race which is set before them. But then what would our reason signifie? why should he make us capable of being wrought upon by arguments and moral persuasions? why hath he given us faculties to discourse pro and con of things, and to argue, and de­bate the case with our selves? why hath he given us a rule to try our actions by, and power to judge what is good, and what is evil, what can be said for the one, and what can be pleaded for the other; which Argu­ments [Page 53] are stronger, and which are weaker; which are ponderous, and which are of no value.

If God doth do nothing in vain, what can we imagine that this power of Considerati­on is given for? He that makes a curious Ves­sel of gold, doth not intend it for a Trough or Washing Tub. He that enamels a Ring, doth not intend to throw it upon a Dung­hil. He that builds a house, doth not intend it for a habitation of Owls and Ravens, and Birds of prey. He that plants a rich and kindly Fruit Tree, doth not intend it for Timber in a Hogs-stie. He that makes a rich Carpet, doth not intend it for Dish­clouts: And shall I think God more impru­dent than man? Shall I imagine that God hath less foresight with him, than dust and ashes? Shall he plant in me an ability and power of Consideration, and intend it for no higher use, than to teach and instruct me how to rake a little dung together, how to feed a poor corruptible body for the grave, and how to wallow with the Swine in the mire. He that can have such low thoughts of God, deserves to be banish'd from all hu­mane society, and to dwell with Beasts of the Wilderness. God could not bestow this power on me in vain, and if not in vain, it ought most certainly to be employ'd on [Page 54] things of the greatest concernment. And what things are there of greater concern­ment, than turning from the power of Satan unto God, and laying up treasures there, where the Moth cannot corrupt, and where Thieves cannot break through and steal.

Nay, why should God assure the sinner, that his impenitence shall be punish'd with everlasting destruction, but that he would have him make use of his reason, and consi­der the truth and importance of this threat­ning, the uncertainty of his own life, and how sin will certainly harden him, if he doth not turn with all speed, and how soon ruine and destruction may seize on him, and how dear his pleasures may cost him, and how fearful it will be to fall into the hands of an angry God, whose patience hath been abu­sed, whose words have been scorn'd, whose thunderbolts have been laught at, and whose compassion hath been lookt upon only as a shift or trick to ensnare men into rigorous se­verity.

Lord God! I am not bereft of my reason, when I hear the Supreme Governor of Hea­ven and Earth threaten me; when I hear him who sits on the circle of the Earth, denounce wrath and indignation against me, I have a tongue in my head, and can enquire of men wiser than my self, whether this be really the [Page 55] threatning of God or no; and whether the great Creator, when he threatens thus, be in good earnest or no: I have eyes to read, whe­ther there be a mistake in such Comminati­ons or no: I have reason to argue and com­prehend, what Arguments are solid and weighty, and what are frivolous and imper­tinent; whether the reasons for my turning from my evil wayes be stronger, than those which would dissuade me from it. I have reason to ponder, how many thousands have with shifts and excuses, and delayes, been the cause of their own ruine; and I have power to reflect, how that if I am guilty of the same folly, I shall shortly be wrapt up in the same calamity with them; and what poor, what inconsiderable comfort it will be, to find those men companions in eternal mi­sery and calamity, that have been formerly companions to me in sin, and offending God. I have reason and power seriously to debate whether there be a future judgment or no, and with very little trouble may satisfie my self, that things are so, as the Gospel repre­sents them, and that there is no jesting with edg'd tools. I have power to reflect, that if there were no more but a possibility of eter­nal torments, if we could strain the Notion no higher than to a may be, it would become a wise man to prepare for the worst, and to en­deavor [Page 56] to be on the sure side of the hedge. And having reason to consider all this, power to weigh and ponder all this, and so to pon­der it, that my understanding thus possess'd, may prevail with my will and affections, to resolve for contempt of sin and of the world, I must necessarily conclude, that God expects I should proceed, and come to that spiritual life this way. And let no man tell me here, that this is to make man independent from God, and to assert that men may convert themselves, and change their own hearts, and give themselves that repentance and faith which the Scripture everywhere asserts to be the gift of God. For Gods power and glo­ry is so far from receiving any prejudice by this Doctrine, that I know nothing can ad­vance and promote it more than this way. It's confess'd that Conversion is the work of God, but then he expects I should do my part, and work according to the power he hath given me, and improve the Talents he hath already bestow'd upon me, and trade with them, and make use of the faculties I have, and exercise them as much as I can, in order to a serious change of life, and in the use of such means God will be found, as we see in Cornelius, Acts 10.4. And his holy Spi­rit shall come down, and make the work ef­fectual, and bless those honest endeavors with [Page 57] grace and mercy, and make the wheels go merrily, which went but heavy before; and turn that piety which proceeded from fear of Hell before, into a sincere love to God, and to the beauty of holiness, and make that o­bedience universal which was but partial, and by halves before, and that's a kindly Conver­sion. To indulge our selves in laziness and idleness, and weariness of Gods service, upon pretence that we must wait Gods time, and stay till God is pleased to work upon our hearts, is no better than mocking of God. For God who hath protested, that he'll cast out none that will but come to him, and never left himself without witness, and is en­gag'd by promise to be a rewarder to them that diligently seek him, hath no where in his Word promis'd to work upon our hearts, ex­cept we will use such means as he hath given us power to make use of in order to Con­version; and he that lets the power God hath given him for this use, lie dead, doth but imbezle the gift of God, and with that un­profitable servant, layes up his pound in a Napkin, and consequently can expect no o­ther answer, than was return'd to him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant: thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reap­ing that I did not sowe. Wherefore then ga­vest [Page 58] not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? Therefore take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. And as for those mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, (and it seems, such are all those that will not improve those powers God hath given them, especially this of Con­sideration, in order to be reclaim'd from the errors of their wayes) bring them hither, and slay them before me, Luke 19.22, 28.

And indeed, he that can sit down and con­sider what losses may befall him, what mis­chief may happen to him, if he keeps com­pany with a turbulent, quarrelsome man, and thereupon shuns his society, will find in the last day, that he might as well have sate down, and consider'd, what evil a sinful life would bring upon him. His reason to be sure is capable of taking the one into Consi­deration as well as the other; and he that believes he hath a Soul, must be supposed able to think of dangers that may befall his Soul: and since Consideration is that which represents all dangers in very lively colours, and by that means affects, and makes impres­sions upon the whole man, there is no person but may safely expect Gods blessing upon such Considerations, not upon the account of merit, but because God hath most freely, and [Page 59] most graciously promis'd his assistance, where men shew their willingness to work in his Vineyard.

And that's the reason why Conversion in Scripture is sometimes attributed to man, and sometimes to the Father of lights, from whom every good and perfect gift descends; and why we read in the same Prophet, Make your selves a new heart and a new spirit, Ezek. 18.31. And I the Lord will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, Ezek. 36.26. Because God expects the sinner should take his ways, and preposterous actions, and the danger which hangs over his head, into serious Con­sideration, represent the odiousness and disin­genuity, and unseasonableness of his sin to his mind, and muse upon that endless happiness, he may arrive to, weigh the comforts and consolations he may enjoy on this side Hea­ven, and God will encourage him, gather the Lambs with his Arms, and carry them in his bosome, i. e. prosper those sincere endeavors, and water them with the dew of his benedi­ction, till the byas of the Soul is chang'd, and turned towards Heaven.

Consideration is the Bed where the incor­ruptible Seed is sown, and on the ground thus prepared, the Sun of Righteousness doth shine, and by his warmth produces in the Soul all manner of pleasant fruits, Cant. 7.13. [Page 60] Consideration, like the Pool of Bethesda, draws the great Angel of the Covenant down, who stirs the Pool, and gives it a healing vir­tue, and immediately the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the Lepers are cleansed, and the dead are rais'd up, Matth. 11.5.

That God hath sometimes by miraculous means converted, and turn'd men from their irreligiousness and contempt of holiness we do not deny; but though these miracles might be the occasion of their Reformation, it was still Consideration that digested these miraculous Providences, and engaged these men to enquire what they meant, and for what end they were sent, and how they should escape if they neglected so great a sal­vation. It was this made them argue, that as these Calls were great, and full of wonder, so they challeng'd entertainment and submis­sion answerable to so great a mercy. It was this made them see the love of God, and won­der whence it should be, that God should overlook so many thousands, and knock at their gates; pass by Palaces, and be content to take up his rest in their poor habitations. It was this made them ponder, that after such Admonitions and Exhortations from Hea­ven, there was no standing still, and that con­tempt of such extraordinary Providences, [Page 61] must needs fall very heavy on the Soul one day, and sink it into the nethermost Hell; upon which Considerations and Expostulati­ons, they resolv'd to close with Christ, and with the terms of the Gospel.

But all this will more fully appear, if we can prove, That without Consideration, Con­version or Reformation of life cannot but be counterfeit, Conversion being a change of the whole man, and loving God better than the world, or minding Heaven more than earth, an immortal Soul more than a frail dy­ing body, there can nothing be imagin'd under God more likely to prevent our being deceiv'd with a form of godliness, than Con­sideration. That the Devil very ordinarily transforms himself into an Angel of light, and imposes upon our minds by shadows of virtues, as it is his interest, so it is a thing as common as our yielding to temptations of that nature. Daily experience is a sufficient witness, how men deceive themselves with a varnish and paint of Piety, and flatter them­selves, that they are ordain'd to eternal life, and in a way to those Regions of bliss, when they are not. Because they acknowledge and profess, that God is infinite, perfect, glorious, and the Supreme Governor of the world, and that in him we live and breathe, and have our Being; and that it's he that rules the [Page 62] great wheel of Providence, they conclude they love him better than their riches or pleasures here, when they do nothing less, in­deed no more but what Parrots may do, which being taught, can repeat the same words, and be never the nearer that wisdom which makes men wise unto salvation. We see how men because they have no inclination to some gross notorious sins that other men are guilty of, are apt to conclude that they mortifie their lusts, and put off the works of darkness, walking soberly as in the day-time; and because they frequent the Temple of the Lord, they are presently true hearers of the Word. Because such a man is not drunk every day, but is sober now and then, he be­lieves himself to be a very temperate man. Another, because he doth not cheat so noto­riously as his Neighbors, concludes he is just, honest, upright, and fair in his dealings. An­other, because he works hard in his Calling, and doth no body wrong, fancies he doth all that's fit for a Christian to do. Another, be­cause he hath sometimes a good thought of God, and can send up a short ejaculation to Heaven, is very confident he meditates and contemplates the Almighty. Another, be­cause he hath some faint breathings after him, knows nothing to the contrary, but he is as zealous for Gods glory, as any of his acquain­tance [Page 63] can be. Another, because he hath now and then a melancholy thought of his sins, and confesses them to Almighty God, con­cludes he doth repent as well as the best; and because he often wishes for salvation, and hath a good opinion of holiness and good­ness, he doubts not but he is made partaker of the Divine Nature.

That these are Cheats and Delusions, is evi­dent to any rational man. The Gospel doth not offer Heaven on these terms, and it is not partial but universal obedience that Christ requires of his followers. He is resolved Heaven shall cost them more than these little services come to, and they shall not impose upon God, however they may deceive them­selves. But then how shall these, or any other Cheats be discover'd and avoided, but by Consideration? True Conversion consists in resisting and conquering such Delusions, but how shall they be resisted, if they be not known? how shall they be known, if men consider not whether the course they take, be either agreeable to the way God hath prescrib'd, or like to bring them to that hap­piness they aim at.

It's Consideration must manifest which is God, and which is the Cloud; which is Gold, and which is but Guilt; which are the wa­ters of Jordan, and which are the rivers of [Page 64] Damascus; which is Corn, and which are Tares; which are the fiery tongues, and which is the Glow-worm light; which are Jacob's hands, and which are the hands of Esau.

There are not a few sins which look very much like virtues; complying with mens im­pieties looks so like Humility, Flattery so like that Charity which bears all things, and hopes all things, and believes all things, and endures all things, reviling again when we are revil'd so like doing justice, worldly minded­ness so like providing for our Families, lying for profits sake so like a work of necessity, and self-preservation, and bearing a grudge to him that hath offended us, without dis­covering it in our actions, so like curbing our passions, that few men will think them­selves concern'd to part with them, except they consider which is the pure, and which the sophisticate mettle.

How like saving knowledge doth that knowledge of God look, which puffs up the Soul, and tempts men to despise others that are not arriv'd to the same measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. There is no distinguishing of them, but by the effects; and how shall the effects be discriminated, but by Consideration. I cannot avoid being deceiv'd, if I do not sit down and reflect. Lord! I pretend to knowledge of the Cross [Page 65] of Christ, but doth this knowledge make me humble and vile in mine own eyes? Doth it discover to me my spiritual poverty, and make me prefer others before my self? Doth it make me prize Christ above all? And doth it engage me to count all things Dross and Dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ? Doth it make me stand under the Cross of Christ, and breathe and pant after his precious blood, like a man truly sensible both of the worth and want of it? Doth it produce that mind in me, which was in Christ Jesus? Dost thou feel this O my Soul? How happy art thou, if thou art sensible of these operations? Do not deceive thy self, doth not this knowledge thou pretendest to, make thee secure and careless? Doth it not make thee sit down contented without the life of Religion? Doth it not persuade thee to believe that thou art a Christian, though thou dost not imitate Christ in his holy life and conversation? Does it not make thee proud and self-conceited, and think more highly of thy self than thou oughtest to think, and like the Pharisees, look between anger and scorn on those that know not the Law; if so, how is the knowledge of Christ Jesus in thee?

The same may be said of Faith, it's Consi­deration must separate it from presumption, [Page 66] and satisfie me whether it be of the true Eagle-kind or no; it's impossible to know whether my faith be of the right stamp or no, without I make such inquisition as this. Faith is a gift or fruit of the Spirit, which I am apt to believe God hath blessed and en­rich'd my Soul withall, and I thank him that I am not born an Heathen or Infidel. But what power hath my Faith upon my Affecti­ons? Doth it purifie my heart, and drive a­way those lusts that have taken up their resi­dence there? Doth it make me cut off my right hand, pull out my right eye when they do offend me? Doth it make me live like a person that believes the Omnipresence, and Omniscience of God? Doth it make me cau­tious and afraid of offending that God whom I believe of purer eyes than to behold in­iquity? Doth it make me embrace Christ both as my Redeemer and Governor, both as my Saviour and my King? Doth it engage me to resign my will to his Will, and to re­ceive the Kingdom of God, as a little child, without disputing his commands, or contra­dicting his injunctions? Doth it work by love? And doth it drive me to give God my dearest and tenderest love? Doth it work by charity too, by good works? And doth it make me cast my bread upon the water, give away freely and chearfully, though I have [Page 67] no prospect, and see no probability of a re­compence here on earth? Doth it make me despise the World, and overcome it, and use it only as my Servant, while God alone is my Master? Doth it make me resist the Devil, and grapple with powers and principalities, with the Rulers of darkness, and with spiritual wickednesses in high places? Eph. 6.12. Doth it make me pray with fervency and impor­tunity? Doth it transport my Soul into ra­vishments upon the sight of yonder glorious things, God hath laid up and prepared for those that love him? Doth it make me re­joyce in that Saviour I have not seen with joy unspeakable and full of glory? Does it make me trust God in Adversity, even then when the Fig-tree doth not blossom, when there is no fruit in the vines, when the labour of the Olive fails, and the Field does yield no meat, when the flock is cut off from the fold, and when there are no herds in the stalls? Hab. 3.17. Doth it make me take notice of Gods gracious Dealings and Providences, and ad­mire Gods wisdom and greatness, and power and goodness in all? Doth it make me prize the promises of the Gospel above all riches, and doth it make me willing to suffer for Christ? Rejoyce, O my Soul, if Faith hath thus warm'd thy heart, and if thou findest these footsteps of God within thee! These [Page 68] are ornaments sit for thee to appear in before the great Tribunal. On the other side, what ease, what quiet canst thou enjoy, if thy faith be dead and dull, and unactive, if it doth not touch thy tongue with a Coal from the Altar, and doth not make thee break forth into celebrations and admiration of the height and breadth, and length, and depth of the love of God? If thou feelest no ho­ly force in thy Soul, to shake off every weight and every sin which doth so easily beset thee? If thy faith does not make thee stand upon thy watch, and break through all dis­couragements and oppositions, to obtain the end of thy faith, even thy salvation. If it doth not make thy corruptions abate, and thy extravagant desires and passions fall. If it doth not chase Discontent in a great mea­sure from thy thoughts, and doth not give thee bowels of compassion to Ministers, to the Servants of God, to Christs distressed members. If it doth not drive thee into Heaven, into contemplations of a glorious Eternity, which shall make amends for all the losses, troubles, perils, miseries and difficulties thou undergoest here. If it doth not make thee prefer Christs honour and will before the vain allurements of flesh and blood, and the society of those who delight in God, be­fore familiarity with the richest and greatest [Page 69] who cast Gods Laws behind them. If it works no patience in Afflictions, no humility, no self-denial, no meekness under curses and injuries, and persecutions, no courage to stand up for God, and for his glory, no delight in the Word and wayes of God, no sincere en­deavors to practise what thou hearest, no relish in spiritual things, no holy revenge up­on thy corruptions, no indignation against thy former sins, no carefulness to please God, no vehement desires after him who is fairer than the children of men.

Faith thus consider'd, if it be but a painted fire, will quickly betray it self, and this Consideration will soon give an item to the sinner, that this is no good foundation to build eternal salvation on. In this manner we are obliged to proceed in our prayers and supplications. Consideration must acquaint us whether it be the desires of our hearts, or the desires of our lips only, that we offer unto God; whether it be a deep sense of our spiritual wants and necessities, and of the Greatness, Majesty, Purity, Holiness, Mercy and Goodness of God that makes us pray, or Custom, and Education, and Civility to our unruly Consciences.

So in our Distributions to the Necessities of others, Consideration must acquaint us, whether we give enough or no, whether we [Page 70] fulfill those Rules Christ and his Apostles have deliver'd concerning it, and whether it be vain glory and the applause of men, that makes us both liberal, and speak of our libe­rality, or an honest design to advance the glory of God, and the good of our Neigh­bour.

So in Fasting, Consideration must acquaint us, whether it be the outward performance we do regard more, than the inward frame of the Soul? whether it be a real, sincere reso­lution to mortifie sin, that engages us to this severity, or an intent of giving God satisfa­ction for the affronts we have offer'd him, and whether the austerity makes sin truly bitter to us, and works an eternal detestation of it in our hearts, or whether it disposes us to fall on afresh, and tempts us upon the credit of that piece of Mortification, to venture into new sins and enormities.

So in our zeal for God, Consideration must acquaint us, whether we are more passionate in things, which concern the honour of God, than in promoting of our own interest, whether it be a zeal according unto know­ledge, and kindled by the Sun of Righteous­ness, or furious and lighted by the flames of the burning Lake, and whether we are zea­lous for the greater as well as for the lesser matters of the Law, for Judgment, Faith and [Page 71] Mercy, as well as for paying tythe of Mint and Cummin, and Anise.

Without Consideration, our Souls must necessarily remain under very great darkness and mistakes, and consequently run the ha­zard of being cheated in the work of Con­version. How should these Cheats be dis­cover'd but by our reason? How shall our reason judge of them, but by Consideration? For Consideration calls them to an account, layes them open, examines their rise and pro­gress, discovers them to be dross, and spies out the danger they involve the Soul in, and by that means works it into a faithful resolution to take another course.

CHAP. IV Of the various impediments and remora's of Consideration. Men fancy greater difficul­ty in't, that there is indeed. Are continu­ally employ'd about sensual objects. Loth to part with their sins. Ignorant of the pleasure of Consideration. Reflect upon the danger of losing their unlawful gain. Fear they shall fall into melancholy, or go distracted with so much seriousness. Are of opinion, that Conversion, in that sense the Scripture speaks of it, is needless. Mistake the nature of Consideration. Are discouraged by evil company. Neglect consulting with Ministers about this necessary work. Delude them­selves with the Notion of Christ's dying for the sins of the world.

COnsideration, a Duty so great, so noble, so necessary, one would think should find sutable entertainment with all men that pretend to reason, or wisdom, or discretion, the Guest being so beneficial, who can ima­gine to the contrary, but every man will spread open his doors, and let it in? How? Lock the gates against a good Angel? Keep out a Messenger that brings glad tydings? [Page 73] Darken the Room that I may not see the Sun? Consideration, that directs me, how I may be a Friend of God, get room in his bo­some, sing with Angels, triumph with Sera­phins, sit at the right hand of a glorified Je­sus, stand before the Throne of God, serve him day and night in his Temple, and be freed from all possibility of sin and misery, from all discontent, and vexation of Spirit! Is it possible a messenger of that worth and beauty, and excellency, can want a lodging? Is it possible it should fare no better than the GREAT JESUS, be destitute of a place where to lay its head? Does not every man desire to be happy? Did ever any man hate his own flesh? Was ever any man in love with torment? Is it not every mans interest to study how to prevent it? And then sure, Con­sideration cannot but have the love and em­braces of all persons, that do not make sport with casting fire-brands, and death, and ar­rows, Prov. 26.18, 19.

So an impartial, serious man would think, yet to our grief and sorrow we find, that men run away from it, as from the Plague, and do as carefully avoid it, as they would do Rats­bane, or Sublimate, or Night-shade. This will oblige me in the next place to enquire what are the Remora's or Impediments that make men neglect this Panacaea, and like [Page 74] mad Dogs, shun the water that would cure them, and slight the remedy that would in­fallibly recover them. It's natural for men to enquire into the reasons of any decay. If a Tree do not thrive, if Flowers do wither in the Bud, if a Child do not grow, or if the water of a River fails, the first thing we do, is to enquire where the stop is, and what the causes of the defect are, and why things do not prosper according to expectation? And he that hath a Vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and fences it, and gathers the stones out of it, and plants it with the choicest Vine, and builds a Tower in the midst of it, and makes a Wine-press therein, may well ask the que­stion, Wherefore when I look'd that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes, Isa. 5.1, 2, 3, 4.

The clogs and impediments of Considera­tion are numberless, for indeed it's the Devils study and contrivance day and night, which way to prevent it. Where a person dares ex­tricate himself from the snares of sense, and venture upon this work, the enemy justly fears he shall lose a Subject; and a Soul will be snatcht out of his clutches, and he shall not be able to hold the sinner in his Egypt, or hinder him from sacrificing to the Lord his God. And being a spirit that lives upon Envy, enjoyes his malice, and finds his greatest [Page 75] satisfaction in destroying mens Souls, we must suppose he leaves no stone unturn'd, no stra­tagem untry'd, no means unattempted, to hinder men from a serious recollection of their thoughts and imaginations.

There is such beauty, such loveliness in the wayes of God, notwithstanding the coarse outside, that should a person by serious Consi­deration, be tempted to lift up the vail, and see what is behind it, remove the Sackcloth and Ashes, and take a view of that which is underneath, open the Iron gate, and behold the Gold within, unlock the Cabinet, and see the jewels there, he would most certainly be ravish'd with the sight, and not stay one hour longer in the chambers of death. This the Devil knows, he is sensible, that Consi­deration is a Tree of life, therefore least men put forth their hands, and take of the Tree, and eat and live for ever, we may rationally believe, he'll cross their endeavors to the ut­termost; so that we may suppose as many impediments of Consideration, as the Devil can invent stumbling blocks to throw in the way to this Duty: however let's take a view of some of the principal.

I. The fancied difficulty of it. I say fan­cied, for there is not that hardship in't men imagine. But such enemies are the generality [Page 76] of men to their own happiness, that they will fancy difficulties in things they are loth to do, and they therefore cry out, That they are hard, and not to be compassed but with infinite deal of trouble, because they would be excus'd from the performance or practice of them. It's ordinary for School-boyes to plead difficulty of the Task their Ma­ster sets them, when they have a greater mind to play, than to learn, much like Solo­mon's sloathful man, Proa. 26.13. There is a Lion in the way, there is a Lyon in the streets. Vain man! there are no Lions but in his own brain, no considerable difficulties, but what are of his own making. So here men fancy, that this serious Consideration of their wayes, is a thing which none but Scho­lars, and men of Learning can reach, and none are obliged to mind but men of Let­ters, and such as are Bookish, and read much, and have large capacities, are men of great judgment, and can wholly give or de­dicate themselves to this study, a conceit as false, as God is true, and which we cannot re­flect upon without indignation.

There is no man that's sensible, that Gold is better than Glasses and Rattles, or that Pearls ought to be priz'd and valued more than Pebles. There is no man that is capa­ble of apprehending that three and three [Page 77] makes six, or can contrive and plot, which way a dangerous Pond, or a dreadful Fire may be avoided, but may consider, whether the things the Scripture speaks of be true or no, whether the promises and threatnings of the Gospel are things that belong to him or no, whether he lives up to the precepts of Christ or no, and what will be the conse­quence of his contempt of mercy, and what may be the means of escaping the wrath to come, and whether an endless glory be not infinitely better than a few hours Pageantry, and everlasting enjoyment more satisfactory than momentary pleasures, and eternal rest more desirable than a transitory titillation.

What difficulty is there in this Considera­tion, what Rocks, what Precipices are there here, that must be ventur'd on to bring it a­bout. I see a whole street on fire, and am struck into amazement, and cannot I consider how dreadful everlasting fire must be. I con­sider, it's worth sitting up late, and rising early, and running up and down to get a livelihood, and cannot I consider, how far more rational it is to sweat, and toyle, and la­bour for an everlasting inheritance. I can consider with delight, how much ease and content I shall enjoy, when such an Estate I have the reversion of, doth fall. And cannot I consider how happy those must be, that af­ter [Page 78] their patient continuance in well-doing, shall be possess'd of glory and honour, and immortality, and eternal life. I can consider how pleasant, how glorious a thing it is to live in the good opinion of my Prince, under the smiles and gracious looks of my Benefa­ctor. And cannot I consider what a felicity doth attend them, that enjoy the light of Gods countenance. Here is but changing the object. And I that can consider, how disin­genious, and sordid a thing it is to act against a man, that hath rais'd me out of dust, and advanc'd me to great dignity and prefer­ment, cannot I consider, what baseness, and disgenerous ingratitude it must be to pro­voke that God who maintains me, and pre­serves me, and without whom I cannot breathe or move? I that can consider the reasonableness of sorrow and grief where I have offended, and done a signal injury to my Superior, cannot I consider how just and equitable it is when I look on that Saviour, whom my sins have pierc'd, to mourn as hear­tily, as one that mourns for his onely Son? Why should not my understanding serve me to consider the one as well as the other? Spiritu­al things are the most adequate and most pro­per objects of my understanding. They are the proper fuel for that flame which cherish and feed it, and make it rise, and soar to Hea­ven. [Page 79] Whatever concerns provision for the flesh, or for this present life, is but a seconda­ry object, more by favour and permission, than by design. For Gods design in giving us understandings, was, that they might be receptacles of spiritual Truths, storehouses of invisible Treasures. Contrivances, how we may get our bodily wants and necessities supplied, for ought I know may be perform'd, and order'd by sense alone, without reason, without this sublime faculty of understand­ing, as we see in Beasts and ignobler Ani­mals, which being strangers to this privi­ledge, and directed only by sense, furnish themselves with necessaries, conveniencies, and superfluities: Go to the Ant, thou sluggard, consider her wayes, and be wise, which having no Guide, Overseer or Ruler, provideth her meat in the Summer, and gathereth her food in the Harvest, Prov. 6.6, 7, 8.

But what will not men call difficult, if they are unwilling to do what they should: And who sees not that this is but a shift to satisfie their Consciences, that they may not twitch them for the omission; and they must have some plea, left they should sin bare-faced, and seem to affront God without cause or instiga­tion. And indeed this plea is a true stroke of the Devil, for though the way to destruction be far more craggy, and infinitely fuller of [Page 80] precipices, than the way to life, witness mens breaking through infamy, the hatred of their Friends, the displeasure of their Relations, the fences of Modesty, the scorn of Angels, the indignation of a consuming fire, to get at sin, witness their venturing sometimes their Fortunes, sometimes their Lives, sometimes their Reputation, sometimes the ruine of their Families, to please the Devil, yet the broad way being down, whereas the strait is up the hill, his persuasion prevails the sooner, that the former is infinitely more facile and easie, and thus he brings an evil report upon the good Land, particularly upon Considera­tion, the great Ladder whereby we must climb to Heaven, and hard it must be, though nothing be more easie: it's a thing porta­ble, and is alwayes to be had; it's alwayes in season, always at hand, alwayes within call, no Burthen in a Journey, no Load in a Voy­age, men may carry it with them wherever they go; when they are travelling, when they stay at home; in company, and out of com­pany; when they are walking, when they are sitting down; when they go to Bed, when they rise; they need not run beyond Sea to fetch it, nor evolve many Books to be Ma­sters of it; they need not fail to the Antipo­des to compass it, nor dig under-ground to find it; they need not ransack the Indies to [Page 81] enrich themselves with it, nor venture ship­wracks to bring it home; they need not sell Lands and Houses to purchase it, nor run the hazard of Sword and Fire to secure it; they need not clamber Mountains to possess it, nor wade through Rivers to inherit it. They carry this Treasure in their hearts, and it must be meer sluggishness, if they let it lie there, and make no use of it. The fire is hid un­der the ashes, and they need but stir it, and blow it, and it will soon flame out; and God hath made the duty so easie on purpose, that men might not be deluded by the Devil, into a belief of its impossibility. Strange stupi­dity! they do not think it hard to carry Ta­lents of Lead, or Mountains of Sin on their backs, and yet they think Consideration hard; even that Consideration, which like a faithful Friend would tell them how to be rid of that heavy Load they bear, a Load, which would immediately sink them into Hell, but that the Devil puts under his shoulder, and helps them to carry it, and so they feel it not. They do not think it hard to dig into Hell, and yet they think Consi­deration hard, which would teach them a way how to quench that fire. They do not think it hard to be oppress'd by a most bloody Usurper, and yet they think Consi­deration hard, which would shew them how [Page 82] they might shake off that yoke which nei­ther they nor their Forefathers were ever able to bear. They do not think it hard to obey every little Slave, every silly Lust, eve­ry common Soldier, in that Camp of which themselves might be the Generals, and yet they think Consideration hard, which would free them from that Tyranny, and acquaint them with a way how they might be Kings and Priests unto God, and shine as the stars in the firmament for ever.

O men unwise, and flow of heart, to be­lieve all that the Prophets have spoken; you that have courage to meet an Army in the field, and, to use Job's expression, have confi­dence to laugh at the glittering spear and the shield, Job 39.23. you that have courage to plough the Sea, to face a Cannon, to mock a shower of Arrows, to stand under a volley of shot, to fight Duels, to expose your Lives, to lay Siege to a Fort, to endure the noise of Guns, to hear the clashing of Swords, to lie on the cold ground many nights together, or to have an Arm or Leg cut off, to preserve the founder parts of your bodies, you that have courage to do all this, and do not think it hard, shall you think Consideration hard? even that Consideration that would make you live like men, and free you from the [...]ubbish, the lapsed posterity of Adam lies [Page 83] groaning under: you that do things every day almost much harder, and much more dif­ficult than Consideration is, will you scruple that which may be perform'd with greater ease, and which you are more obliged to, than adventuring on the Dangers I have men­tion'd?

II. Impediment.

II. Love of the World, and being continu­ally employ'd about sensual objects. This is another impediment of Consideration. And indeed we need not wonder to see men ne­glectful and careless of this great and neces­sary work, when the world takes up their hearts, and engrosses their affections; when we see how all their Plots, Designs, Contri­vances, Desires are for the world, and when they mind onely fleshly things, as the Apostles phrase is, Phil. 3.19.

What I mean by the world, none can be ignorant of, that hath either read what wise men have written concerning it, or hath heard the Word of the Gospel sounding in his ears: For indeed, it's not the least part of our Commission to dehort and dissuade men from fixing their Affections on these subluna­ry objects, and but that continual inculcating of the same thing would make our Auditors nauseate the most wholsom Lessons, we could not do them greater service, than by making [Page 84] such Dehortations the perpetual Subject of our Sermons.

All that is in the world, is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, saith the great Divine, 1 Joh. 2.16. What­ever outward object serves to gratifie sense, whatever here below is most commonly desi­red and lusted after, whatever makes for sa­tisfaction of the flesh, or of our sensual ap­petite, all is comprehended under this name.

And indeed it is with these worldly com­forts, as it was with the garden of Eden; some are for food, some for tryal; some to keep our bodies serviceable to our souls; some to prove our souls, whether they'll rest on these broken Reeds, or seek their rest and acquiescence in him, that is the Creator of all. And accordingly the Almighty thought fit to limit the use of these terrestrial felicities, and to signifie in his Word, that his intent in gi­ving them, was, that they should be our ser­vants, not our masters; that he design'd them as advantages to us, not hinderances in admiring and adoring the immense goodness and bounty of God, and that he appointed them for our use no farther, than they would serve to promote his glory, and the eternal felicity of our immortal souls. But here we find men generally live the reverse of Gods [Page 85] designs and intentions, and instead of using these visible comforts in order to a greater end, make that their home, which was inten­ded only for their Inn, and are for erecting Tabernacles to dwell there, which God de­sign'd only as a thorow-fare.

And to this unhappiness, preposterous education, which most men are subject to, doth very much contribute. For whereas we should be educated into Reason, and a right apprehension of things, we are usually educated into sense and deceptions; and those that have the care of us, and should teach us self-denial in these outward things, and by that means, engage our souls to fix on nobler objects, do commonly present us with no­thing but sensual satisfactions. All their Dis­courses to us are of the World, and of the magnificence, greatness, splendor, and ravi­shing aspects of these outward gayeties; and the first principles they teach us, are how to please sense, and to pamper our appetite; and though now and then they teach us some lit­tle Notions of Divinity, yet it is in such a sensual way, that it amounts to no more, than a formality and divertisement, and being a thing that's taught by the by, it makes little or no impression upon our affections.

But whatever disadvantages men lie under upon the account of their sensual education, [Page 86] one would think when they come to the full use of their reason, and are capable of un­derstanding the vanity, emptiness, unconstan­cy of these lower objects, and of apprehen­ding that they were only intended as Lad­ders, to raise us into contemplations of our great Benefactor in heaven, when they arrive to this ripeness of understanding, come out of their apprenticeship, set up for themselves, become as it were their own masters, and en­ter upon the possession of that estate, which before was managed by others, one would think, I say, they should then begin (as there is commonly an alteration of our temper, upon the alteration of our fortunes) to rectifie those sensual principles, which their Nurses and Tutors have shed into them, and wash away the stains those fond Masters (as in­deed men may be kill'd by kindnesses, and like that Olympian Victor, be stifled with Po­sies) have unluckily imprinted on their souls.

But alas! there are so very few, that ha­ving gone thus far, stop and attempt to capti­vate their appetites to the obedience of Rea­son and Religion, or seek to elevate their souls above the dung and trouble of the World, according to the intent of their Ma­ker, that most men sink deeper and deeper in­to the gulf of sensual desires, open the gates [Page 87] wider, make the door larger for sensual satis­faction to enter in, nay, if it be modest and loth to enter, compel it to come in, and to give their spirits an infusion of carnali­ty, to water and keep warm the seed of worldly inclinations, and find out wayes to encrease their Thirst, to add heat to their Fe­ver, to provoke their sensual appetite to en­large it self as Hell, and fearing they have not been sufficiently, or faithfully enough in­structed in the enjoyment of these worldly felicities, they try experiments and conclusi­ons to find out new satisfactions, and thus plunge themselves into the main Sea, being charmed by the Sunbeams playing and glit­tering upon the water, and the curling of the waves. And the impressions which were made on the wax when soft and tractable, remain when it's grown harder, by a continual hurry of worldly cares and businesses, which they are content to admit of, they make their souls the least object of their solicitude, and were they ask'd as that profane Duke, What they think of Heaven? it's like they would an­swer in his language, or think so, or at least act as if they thought so, That they have so much business on earth, that they cannot think of Heaven. Thus their very spirits become flesh, and their souls turn to earth, as well as their bodies.

[Page 88]Whence it comes to pass, that their minds being altogether sensual, impregnated with worldly cares and satisfactions, and all their faculties employ'd in contriving how to get a greater share of earth than they have al­ready, or at least to keep and preserve what they have, there is no room for this Conside­ration of their spiritual estate or condition. They hearken to nothing with any zeal or attention, or life, that doth not carry either some worldly profit or pleasure with it, and that which charms or wins them, must be the musick of temporal interest.

Consideration how they shall be saved hereafter! there is no Lands to be bought with it, no Mannors to be purchas'd, no Hou­ses to be built, no Countries to be conquer'd, no Honours to be got by it. It brings in no Riches, it fills not their Coffers with gold and silver, it doth not give them respect and cre­dit with Princes, and Men of Quality, it doth not cover their Tables with dainties and delicacies, it doth not furnish them with portions for their children. It doth not feed their bellies, nor put them into a condition to lie on beds of ivory, or to be clad like Di­ves, with silk and purple. It doth not main­tain their great Retinue, nor present them with soft Airs. It doth not provide for their Families, nor keep up their pomp and gran­deur; [Page 89] were it such a powerful thing as the Philosophers Stone is fabled to be, and did it enable them to turn their Iron into Gold, and did it make their Trade to flourish, and did it make their garners full, affording all man­ner of store, and cause such fruitfulness a­mong their flocks, that their sheep might bring forth thousands, and ten thousands in their streets? Did it raise them to the power of Senacherib, to the magnificence of Nebuchad­nezar, to the pleasures of Solomon? Did it promise a Kingdom, and whisper in their ears, that they should enjoy ease and plenty, with­out all peradventure nothing should have so much of their care or hearts, as Considera­tion of their wayes: But having none of these baits, and their hearts being fix'd on the world, they can find no time for this exer­cise.

Cannot, did I say? They will not allow themselves time to retire and consider, that they have such things as souls, or that these souls are capable of punishment and glory, when they shake hands with their old com­panions, their bodies. They think that time mispent, that is bestow'd upon Consideration of another world, and what minutes or hours are taken from their fleshly satisfacti­ons, or from prosecuting their worldly con­cerns, they look upon as flung away.

[Page 90]By worldly concerns, I do not only mean businesses which an Estate, or Trade, or Fa­mily, or office or sensual pleasures cause, but business of study and learning too; and one may be as much taken up with his study, as another is with his Trade, and consequently be very loth to allow any time for this Consideration we speak of. To be studious, and yet inconsiderate, implies no contradi­ction, and a man may contemplate God and Heaven, and the whole Creation, and yet not contemplate them in order to a holy prepa­ration for another life, or with an intent to mortifie his sins and corruptions, and to imi­tate God in holiness, without which it can­not be Consideration, and the best name we can give it, is an empty Speculation, so that a spiritual Meditation may be but a worldly business, if that which puts me upon it be my profession, whereby I get a livelihood; if that which makes me study and meditate, be temporal profit, or honour, or applause; if it be not undertaken with an intent to edifie my own soul, as well as the souls of others; if it be done either to please the fancy, or to please the gentle Reader, by publishing it to the world.

And indeed where worldly concerns fill all the channels of the soul, there can be but very little employment for serious Conside­ration. [Page 91] A continunl hurry of business sheds darkness upon the soul, thrusts out that eye, whereby it should reflect upon it self, and makes it intent only on things which tickle and please the flesh, and like Felix, when any motions to serious Consideration arise, re­plies, Go thy way for this time, and when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee, Acts 24.25. It fares much with Consideration, as with that Princes invitation, Luc. 14.16. worldly cares and businesses like those guests when the soul feels any suggestions or invita­tions to Consideration, are presently ready with excuses, and a thousand things are pre­tended why they cannot come, or stoop to the gracious message or vocation, and these bryars and thorns choak the good seed that's thrown among them.

Thus earth keeps out Heaven, and the world, like shutters of a window, excludes the light that would irradiate the room, not but that the business of our worldly callings may lawfully be performed and follow'd, and men ought to work with labour, and travel night and day, rather than be chargeable to others, 2 Thess. 3.8. But where the World is made God, and fills mens minds as well as their hands, and all the time that can be got, is spent in embracing and grasping of it, it's impossible Consideration should find enter­tainment [Page 92] there; it's like a heartless prayer may, for that can be hudled up, and requires not much time, and leaves them as worldly as it finds them, and doth not hinder or cross them in their fondness to the world, which they are afraid Consideration will do. And indeed they guess aright, for Consideration would shake their love, make them unquiet in their amours, and unsettle their affections, pull down that high esteem they have of the world, and make them see that there is not that beauty, that glory, or that happiness in things below, which their sickly fancy dream'd of before; it would shew them that all these Gaudes are but a Pit cover'd with curious flowers, where people may irrecove­rably perish, if taken with the treacherous flowers they smell on them, and admire their odour and fragrancy. It would shew them the vanity of heaping up riches, when they know not who shall inherit them; and re­present unto them [...]he folly of flattering their souls with an Ede, Bibe, Lude, Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. It would shew them how false, how perishable all these outward comforts are, and that they have something more than this deceitful world to look after. Consideration, like a faithful Counsellor, would undeceive them [Page 93] in their fond opinions of this treacherous friend, discover to them his base designs, the mischiefs he drives at under all his smiles, the Serpent that lies under those green herbs, and bid them beware of him. But such is the love they bear to the world, that they are jealous of all things that would subvert their love, and hate Consideration as an enemy, because they are afraid it will discompose those embraces, and break the league between them, and these earthly satisfactions, and put their hearts that lie close to the world, out of their place, dispossess them of their earthly mindedness, and prompt them to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, and lay hold on eternal life: A strange fondness this! which doth not only marry the heart unto the world, and makes them two one flesh, but sends out Spies to watch against all the en­deavors of this faithful Monitor, viz. Consi­deration, that it may not break the match, or dissolve the bond, or make the heart sensible of its adulteries.

O God! How is thy similitude in Man de­faced? How is that glorious Image thou didst once shed into his breast, blotted and defiled? Is this the Man that receiv'd a Soul to mind Heaven most? Is this the Man, over whom thou didst spread thy skirts, whose nakedness [Page 94] thou didst cover, and with whom thou didst enter into an everlasting Covenant, whom thou dost draw by cords of love, whose soul thou didst betroth unto thee for ever in righte­ousness, and in judgment, and in loving kind­ness and in mercies? Hos. 2.19. False trea­cherous Man! Is the world become his Ma­ster? Is his servant become his Sovereign? And is that which was intended for his footstool, become his Throne, whereon he braves all the messages of grace and pardon? Shall so great a Soul be married to so mean a slave? So great a Spirit join'd to so pitiful a vassal? And shall that which was design'd for him to trample on, and despise, domineer, and use him like a Prisoner, put fetters about his feet, and shackle his Soul, that it may not return to that husband to whom it hath sworn fi­delity, and promised allegiance and subjecti­on? How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lu­cifer, son of the morning, and thou who hadst once power given thee to ascend into Heaven, and without a metaphor to exalt thy Throne above the stars of God, to ascend above the heights of the clouds, and to be like unto the most High, How art thou brought down to Hell, to the sides of the Pit? How art thou cut down to the ground? How is thy pomp brought down to the grave? Isa. 14.11, 12, 13.

III. Impediment.

III. Vnwillingness to part with their sins. This certainly is the greatest Impediment of Consideration, and the chief cause of Mens neglecting this most useful work. Their consciences, or their hearts give them, that Consideration will discover the deformity and odiousness of their vices, and will put them upon forsaking their darling lusts; they are afraid it will raise doubts and jealousies in their heads about their present condition, disturb them in their slumber, discompose them in their golden dreams, drive them from their softs and ease, and make their Candle burn dim and blew, which for the present gives a very delightful shine, and therefore they are loth to apply themselves to it.

I have heard of some rude and savage In­dians, who being decently cloathed by our Merchants (for in their own Countrey it seems they knew no other ornaments, but dung and guts of Beasts about their naked bodies) and brought over into England with an intent to civilize them, and make them instruments, upon their return to teach their own Nation, modesty and decency, as they were walking about the streets of Lon­don, and beholding the stately houses that [Page 96] adorn'd that goodly City, they were obser­ved to sigh and groan, and to look very me­lancholy; those that took notice of them, charitably believ'd, that their dejected looks were no other but characters of their mourn­ing at their unhappy Countreymen, who were strangers to such Edifices, such Pomp, such Glory, such Plenty, such Magnificence and Gallantry. But being sent over into their own Countrey again, they quickly be­tray'd the reason of their sighs, and soon dis­covered that their melancholy was caused by their being delivered from their nastiness, and beastly way of living. For they were no sooner come to shore, but they tore off their cloaths with indignation, fell about the necks of their Countreymen with joy, and betook themselves to their dung and guts again, and in these ornaments they came triumphing to the English. There cannot certainly be a fit­ter emblem of Sin, where Men are enamor'd with it. They delight in their Plague-sores, rejoyce in their wounds and bruises, wounds not bound up nor mollified with oyntment. They are afraid of Plaisters, and do so de­sire to be let alone in their misery, that they are jealous of a Cure, and dread a Physitian. Their filth is so pleasing to them, their itch so amiable, that he that offers to free them from it, attempts tearing of their bowels from [Page 97] them, and that's it makes them afraid of Con­sideration.

For indeed Consideration would anato­mize their sin, shew them the venome that's spread through every part, shew them who that God is who professes himself offended at it; shew them, that he who is provok'd by it, is that God who breath'd into their Nostrils the breath of life, and gives them the meat they eat, the drink they drink, and the cloaths they put on, that hath the same power over them, which the Potter hath over his Vessel, and can create and destroy them at his pleasure, that sits on the circle of the earth, and before whom all Nations are as a drop of a Bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the ballance, before whom they are as nothing, yea, less than nothing and va­nity, from whom all their spiritual and tem­poral mercies do descend, without whom they could not be one moment out of Hell, who is their best, their greatest, and most con­stant Benefactor, who lets his Sun shine upon them, and his Rain drop down on their fields and pastures, who sends his holy Angels to watch their steps, and to keep them in their wayes, who hears the Heavens for them, and makes the Heavens hear the earth, and the earth to hear the Corn, the Wine, and the Oyl, and commands all these to relieve them, [Page 98] who preserves them from danger, prevents their being hurt, and charges all the elements to spare them, who keeps them by his Provi­dence, supports them by his Wisdom, protects them by his Power, and thinks nothing too good for them, if they will but approve themselves obedient children, and live like persons who are sensible of the obligations of the Highest.

Consideration would let them see, that this God who could undo them, wooes them to Repentance, and that there is no­thing in the world God hates more than sin, and that this is it his Soul abhors, being holi­ness it self, and of infinite purity; Conside­ration would let them see, that their sin con­trolls the will and wisdom of that God, who feeds them, sets up Laws of its own making in opposition to those commands, which the holy Angels dare not mention without trem­bling. This would let them see the majesty and glory of that God whom they do af­front, a God who charges his Angels with folly, and on whose brightness those blessed Ministers cannot look, without covering their faces with their wings, and crying out in amazement, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.

Consideration would represent to them the various mercies and opportunities they do [Page 99] slight, and how hard it will be for them to kick against the pricks; this would shew them what resisting their own mercies means, and what fighting against their own happi­ness imports; how blessings slighted will turn to a curse, and mercies abus'd will ag­gravate their g [...]ilt; how stubbornness makes God weary of shewing mercy; and how re­fusing to come in, while the gates are open, provokes the Master of the house to protest, That the invited Guests shall neuer taste of his Supper; how opportunities of being se­rious, if neglected, may be snatcht away, and the Scepter of grace, if look'd upon with contempt and scorn, may never be stretcht forth again.

Consideration would let them see, what grief their sins do cause in Heaven; how they make the eternal God complain; how loath­som, how abominable they make them in the sight of God, and how they treasure up un­to the owners wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judg­ment of God. This would shew them Christ Jesus on the Cross; this would bespeak them in the language of the Prophet, Who is this that comes from Edom, with died garments from Bozrah? Wherefore is he red in his ap­parel, and his garments like him that treads in the Wine-fat? Isa. 63.1, 2. This would shew [Page 100] them, that the blood which trickled down from that sacred head, trickled down upon the account of their follies and transgressi­ons, that their oaths and curses, and blasphe­mies, were the thorns that prickt his head; that their lasciviousness and fornications, and adulteries, were the spears that open'd his side; that their boldness in sinning, their re­solutions to be damn'd, made the tears gush from his eyes; that their hatred, their ma­lice, their envy, their revengeful desires were the hands that did buffet him; that their covetousness, and worldly-mindedness, and neglect of their duty towards God and man, were the Rods that smote him; that their evil thoughts, and idle words, and extrava­gant actions, were the furies that spit into his face; that their perfidiousness, their trea­cheries, their hypocrisies were the nails that were struck through his hands and feet; that their labouring after Hell, their endeavors to be miserable, their contempt of the goodness of God, made him sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane; that their de­light in abusing God, and in trampling on his Laws, was that which made him shreek out, to the amazement of Heaven and Earth, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? that the heat of their lusts was the cause of his drought, and proved the gall and vi­negar [Page 101] that was given him to drink; that their sinful lives kill'd him, and their dead­ness in duty murther'd him; that their impa­tience and unbelief haled him to the Cross, and their impenitence was the cause of that purple flood, which the Angels, for the rarity and strangeness of it, descended from Hea­ven to behold.

Consideration would lay before them all the curses of the Law, the terror, the consum­ption, the sorrow of heart, that anguish that attends sin in the end, the troubles of Con­science it will raise ere long, the frights, the disquiet it will produce. This would repre­sent to them the flames that Dives felt, and made the Wretch cry out for a drop of wa­ter to cool his burning tongue. This would shew them what blackness sin doth cast on their understandings, and that their being baptized into the Christian Faith, doth signi­fie little, except they leave their sins; and that they do name the Name of Christ in vain, without they depart form iniquity. This would shew them their error in flat­tering themselves with the hopes of Gods mercy, and demonstrate to them, how ridicu­lous it is to believe, that God will pardon them, because they pardon themselves; or that he will forgive them, because they are loth to suffer. This would shew them, that [Page 102] God sees and hears them, and will judge them, and set their transgressions in order before them, for all the seeming delay of his vengeance.

Consideration would discover to them the pardon and reconciliation they must go with­out, if they do not speedily return; the blessings they deprive themselves of, the com­forts they bid defiance to, the light, the favor of God, and the mercy of Christ Jesus they must for ever want, and be destitute of, if they flie not into his arms with the greatest expedition and alacrity. This would aggra­vate their sins, make them appear in their proper colours, and shew that they are no better than Cockatrices Eggs, and Spiders Webs. Have not you seen the crafty Spider weave a Net, and then lie close in an ambush, till the silly Fly, dazled perhaps with the cu­riosity of the Net, hastens to those unhappy Labyrinths; but while she is sporting her self in those chambers of death, out comes the Murtherer, and leads the Captive wretch in triumph home. Consideration would shew them, that thus it is with sin, & that with much fair speech, as that Harlot, Prov. 7.21, 22, 23. it causes the sinner to yield, with the flattering of her lips, she forces him. He goes after her straightway, as an Oxe goes to the slaughter, or a fool to the correction of the stocks: till a [Page 103] dart strike through his liver, as a Bird hastes to the snare, not knowing that it is for life.

This kindness Consideration would do them. Thus and thus it would tell them; and this is it men are afraid of, and therefore care not for entertaining it. Their sins af­ford them present satisfaction, and the plea­sure they promise is brisk and lusty on their fancies; their body feels it, their eyes see it, their ears hear it, their tongue tastes it, it tickles all their senses, it makes them merry and jovial, and makes their blood frisk and dance in their veins. It makes them forget their sorrows, and puts the evil day far from them. Frequent converse and long acquaint­ance, hath made their friendship with sin in­violable. And though it is really the greatest evil, and the cause of all evils in the World; though it murthers while it laughs, and poy­sons while it smiles and cringes; though it is so merciless, that not contented to kill the body, it attempts the soul too; yet having like the Prophets Ewe Lamb, 2 Sam. 12.3. been nourish'd, and kept by its owners for many years, and being grown up together with them, and having eaten of their meat, and drank of their Cup, and lay'n in their bo­soms, and been to them as a Child, the fond­ness is grown so great, that nothing can make them willing to part with it. Hence it is, [Page 104] That Consideration is look'd upon as a sawcy, ill-bred, unmannerly Messenger, that would part the dearest friends, divide sin from their souls, and cause a civil War in their bowels, destroy the reigning power of Vice, attempt its strong holds, and storm its fortifications. They lie encircled in its arms; and though they hang all this while over Hell-fire by a twin'd Thread, though God all this while shakes his Rod over them, and while they hug the sin, is preparing the in­struments of death, and whetting his Sword, and bending his Bowe, and making it ready, yet it seems such is the present hearts-ease sin affords, so sweet is the sleep it yields, that men care not for being awak'd by Considera­tion!

We should wonder to see a man that's ready to starve for want of food, refuse the bread or meat which we offer him; and won­der to see a person that's ready to perish with cold, reject the fire and cloathing we have prepared for him; and wonder to see one who is blind, scorn the help of him that would certainly restore him to his sight; and wonder to see one who is fallen among Thieves and Robbers make light of the as­sistance of a Prince who offers to rescue him out of their hands. And dost not thou won­der, O my soul, at the insufferable stupidity [Page 105] of sinful men, that entic'd with the milk and butter swimming in a Lordly dish, enter in­to a Tent, where they will certainly meet with a nail and hammer, and yet are afraid of that which would assuredly prevent their being pierc'd and stricken through their tem­ples? Mourn over them, lament their wret­chedness, grieve for them, that will not grieve for themselves, call for Rivers of Tears, wish for a fountain of Water! Behold sin hath blinded them, Consideration would open their eyes, but they love darkness better than light. Sin doth expose them naked to the contempt and scorn of God, and his ho­ly Angels, and they rejoyce under that weight. Sin deprives them of the bread of life, and their souls are ready to die for want of the hidden Manna, and they laugh under their want and misery. What Changelings doth sin make men! Lord! how it doth un­man them! how much below themselves doth it make them live! unto God, and his holy Angels they appear perfectly distracted, as the poor Wretches in Bedlam seem to us; only herein their wretchedness exceeds the others misery, that they may be releas'd of their distractedness, and will not, the other if they would, cannot; the former deliration is voluntary, the other forc'd; the former hath malice in't, the other weakness only; and [Page 106] whereas the latter challenges pity and com­passion, the former deserves nothing but wrath and indignation.

IV. Impediment.

IV. Ignorance of the pleasure of Considera­tion, is another Impediment. It's ignorance of the price of Pearls that makes the Idiot slight them. It's ignorance of the worth of Diamonds, that makes the Fool choose a Peble before them. It's ignorance of the sa­tisfaction learning affords, that makes the Peasant despise and laugh at it, and we see very ordinarily how men tread and trample on those Plants, which are the greatest re­storatives, because they know not the virtue of them; and the same may justly be af­firm'd of Consideration, the reason why men meddle no more with it, is, because they are not acquainted with the pleasantness of the task.

There is certainly such a thing as pleasure of the mind, and all delight consisteth not in sensual satisfaction. We see with what plea­sure men spend their time in the study of the Mathematicks; the Professors of it could live and dye in those studies, and desire no greater satisfaction on this side Heaven; their minds are so pleas'd with that Harmony, Sym­metry, [Page 107] Order, Proportion, they spie in things, that they could dispense with the coarsest dyet, so they might but have leave to en­joy that mental pleasure.

And indeed if knowledge be a pleasure, if to be acquainted with our selves be satisfa­ctory, if to discover the impostures, falshood, designs, and ambuscadoes of a dangerous enemy be delightful, Consideration must needs be so; for this gives us an insight into our hearts, let's us see what we are, points at the Nets which are spread for us, and mani­fests the temptations of the Devil, which like Lime-twigs are design'd to catch us into death and ruine. That the Devil, or rather his Emissaries, the evil spirits that are under his power and dominion, are daily walking to and fro, and observing our actions and designs, and behaviour, the company we con­verse withall, the circumstances we are under, our constitutions, complexions and dispo­sitions, and seeking whom they may devour, the Holy Ghost hath made so evi­dent,Note: 1 Pet. 5.8. Matth. 4.3. Eph. 6 12. and our own experience does so clearly demonstrate, that he that doubts of it, must be a man that's altogether guided by sense, and takes notice of things no more than the Beasts that perish; these evil spirits, whenever they tempt, they tempt with a design to hurt; they [Page 108] try men to do mischief, and provoke them to actions as may pull down the wrath of God upon their heads. And as the instru­ments or engines they make use of in their temptations are various, sometimes prosperi­ty, sometimes adversity, sometimes our own corrupted hearts giving them advantage to spur us on to sin, so the temptations vary ac­cording to the several degrees and conditi­ons, and tempers of men; for it's certain, all men will not be dragged or seduced into Hell the same way, and a temptation which will fit one, will not fit another; and a mo­tion which one will contentedly swallow, will not go down with another; several constitutions, must have several suggestions; and according as men change, the temptation changes, and the Devil takes other measures. David cannot be persuaded the same way that Saul is wrought upon, and the argu­ments which prevail with the former, are of no great force with the latter. Paul is not tempted the same way that Judas, nor Peter the same way that Herod. The Drunkards temptations differ from those of the Abste­mious, and the Adulterers from the suggesti­ons of him that's dull and phlegmatick, and hath not inclination to vices of that nature. The melancholy man is oppress'd with ima­ginations different from those, which the mer­ry [Page 109] and jovial meets withall; and we cannot suppose that the Prodigal is tormented with the same suggestions that the Covetous acts by: 'Tis true, in the end, all these Temptati­ons agree, the intended end being destructi­on, and offending God; but still they are of different kinds and complexions, and how pleasant must it be to see through all these wiles and devices of the Devil, a prospect which Consideration alone can afford.

There are many Temptations which seem to sollicit to good, when indeed they pro­voke to evil; as when a man, who wallows in sin and uncleanness, is prompted to trust to Gods mercy, and to lay hold on the merits of Christ▪ and to apply to himself the comforts of the Gospel. The things he is tempted to are good in themselves, but the design of the Temptation being to render the Sinner secure and presumptuous, and careless of a serious life, it cannot but be a pleasure to any man that's sensible of his spi­ritual interest, to discover the cheat, and this discovery is made by Consideration of the nature, design and tendency of the flattering motion, Men are not only provoked to commission of Sin, but too often to neglect of their duty towards God and toward man. And he that is not tempted to Mur­ther, to Theft, to Adultery, to Fornication, [Page 110] to contempt of his Parents, to bearing False Witness against his Neighbour, is yet enticed to Idleness, to Flesh-pleasing, to neglect of Prayer, of Meditation, of Charity, of Faith, of Hope, of Confidence in God, of Zeal, of Fervency, of speaking for Christ, of vindi­cating his Honour when abus'd, of impro­ving his time to Gods glory, and his own eternal good.

The young man rejoyces in his youth, and lets his heart cheer him in the dayes of his youth, and walks in the way of his heart, and in the sight of his eyes, hates gravity and seriousness, and admits of such motions as these: The precepts of the Gospel sure were not intended for me, who have youth and blood, and spirit, to fit me for recreations, I have heard young Saints make old Devils, and I believe it; for when in their riper years they reflect what time they have lost; and how they have spent that age which was fittest for pleasure, in retired devotion; they cannot but turn profane out of despight, and strive to redeem the time they have mispent, in following the advice of melancholy Scho­lars. Religion is a thing fit only for those who are either discontented, or grown wea­ry of the World, for men who can sin no more, and whom age hath mortified into forsaking of their Vices; shall I forbear my [Page 111] mirth and amorous Songs, and witty Talk, my Railleries, and modish Accomplishments, for I know not what? The men in black speak for their own interest, and God sure is kinder to men, than to give them an appetite to sensual satisfactions, and then forbid them to use it; what needs this haste, and why should I apply my self to a religious life so early, when I have some forty, fifty, three­score years before me, and can shake off my follies any time hereafter?

Thus the weak Youngster pleads, and em­braces these motions, as Cordials for his sick­ly passions, as Elixirs for his heated blood; Consideration would let him see that these Temptations are Messengers of the Devil, Threads to lead him into darkness, into cap­tivity, into perfect slavery, and none but a mad man could forbear rejoycing at so happy a discovery.

When the gray and hoary head from his great age infers the greatness of his graces, and from the multitude of his years con­cludes the multitude of his virtues; flatters himself that God loves him, because he hath had little or no affliction in the world; and from his impunity here, draws an argument to prove his impunity hereafter, and sooths himself with Gods favour upon this account chiefly, because he never discover'd his anger [Page 112] in signal judgments, and bids his Soul trust to it, that he stands fair in the good opinion and esteem of God, because his labours in the world have been crown'd with success; and because he hath a Garden of Eden here, se­curely promises himself a Paradise hereafter; and will not be persuaded to the contrary, but that his plenty here, is but an earnest of a fuller Vintage, and richer Granary intended for him in the Land of Canaan; and that his long life on earth, is a pledge of his eternal Life in Heaven: What are these but Temptations which Consideration would discover to be Impostures, and consequently shed both light and joy into the Soul.

When the poor from their outward con­clude their spiritual poverty, and will needs think that they are in a state of grace, be­cause they are in a state of want; and fancy they may securely pilfer, because God hath made no other provision for them; and that they shall receive their good things in the next world, because they received their evil things in this; that they shall be rich in Hea­ven, because they were destitute of conveni­ences here on earth; that they must necessa­rily be Lords hereafter, because they were Beggars here; and shall certainly rejoyce in the nex life, because they mourn'd in this valley of Tears; and cannot but be blessed [Page 113] for ever, because they had a very large mea­sure of misery here. When the rich from their prerogative on earth, conclude their prerogative in Heaven; and because they are advanc'd above other men, think they may use greater liberty in offending God than others; and because they have greater estates than the meaner sort, may therefore sin more boldly, and more considently than they. When from their power they infer the law­fulness of their extravigances, and because they can stand it out, and brave the World, fancy, they may oppress the poorer sort, and may swear and curse more boldly than their Tenants, and resent and affront and revenge injuries, with greater justice than Clowns and Peasants; when from the custom of the age, they infer their priviledge of being more sensual than other men; and because persons of the same quality are not, argue that they need not be so cautious and circumspect in their words and ways, as other men.

When the gentiler sort of people feel in­clinations in themselves to be ashamed of the Gospel, and to forbear professing any zeal or fervency for Religion in company; where Christs blood and wounds are abus'd, where God and Heaven are rallied, where the pre­cepts of the Almighty are laught at, and the Gospel turn'd into ridicule; when they find [Page 114] an unwillingness seize upon their spirits, to reprove either their equals or inferiors, for some notorious impiety they commit. When they think it is below them to pray with their Families, to exhort their Servants to se­riousness, and to shew a good example to those that are under their charge; when they find a disposition to comply with lewd socie­ty, to laugh and smile, and consent to their frothy speeches, and abusive reflections, and to conceal the truth, where it ought to be professed and spoken.

When the Tradesman thinks of putting off his naughty Commodities to the igno­rant Chapman, and of circumventing, and deceiving his Neighbor, where his Neighbor understands not what he buys; when he is willing to put off his devotion, upon every trivial worldly business that comes in his way; and to create business rather, than obey the checks of his Conscience, that chides him for not minding his spiritual Concerns more. When he is loth to do acts of Charity, be­cause he hath a Wife and Family to main­tain, and is afraid he may want himself. When he thinks, that Piety may procure Poverty, and strictness of life may lose him his Custo­mers, and following the ways of God may make his acquaintance leave him, and that to be idle in his shop, is better than reading or [Page 115] meditating, or employing his mind in con­templations of Gods goodness and mercy, and the various blessings he hath bestow'd upon him.

When Parents are unwilling to correct and admonish their Children, are persuaded to let them take their course, abuse others, de­spise those they have a grudge against. When they are loth to instruct them in the fear of God, loth to initiate them in the love of their faithful Creator, are apt to be more an­gry with their Children and Servants for ne­glecting their commands, than the service of God; and apt to be delighted more with their industry and pains in Temporal con­cerns, than with their attempts in the affairs of their everlasting salvation, apter to teach them how to maintain the punctilio's of their honour, than assert the glory of God; and apter to encourage them in vindica­ting their credit and reputation, than in secu­ring their everlasting Treasures, or making their Calling and Election sure.

When Children (provided they are able) are loth to relieve their Parents, loth to ad­minister unto them necessaries if in want, un­willing to obey those wholsome counsels, which their Parents guided and encourag'd by the Word of God, impart to them, unwil­ling to imitate them in their seriousness and [Page 116] heavenly-mindedness, are apt to obey their Parents more than God, and apt to do evil, because their Parents bid them, though God enjoins the contrary; when they sind in themselves an inclination to mourn more for displeasing their Parents, than offending a gracious God; and to be more pleased with the smiles of those which have the govern­ment of them, than with the light of Gods countenance.

When Servants are moved to backbite, and revile their Masters according to the flesh, find an unwillingness upon their spirits to honour the froward as well as the gentle, are apt to be unfaithful to them, to imbezel their goods, and to wrong them in things they have committed to their charge, when thoughts of revealing the secrets of the Family meerly to sport themselves, arise in their minds; when they find inclinations to be in­dustrious in their Masters presence, careless and lazy in their absence, to put them off with eye-service as Men-pleasers, to murmur against their lawful injunctions, to answer again if rebuked for their faults, and to con­spire against them by way of revenge.

What are all these motions and inclinati­ons, but Temptations of the great destroyer of Mens Souls. These are some of the ginns and stratagems, whereby he doth insensibly [Page 117] ruine the greatest part of Mankind; and we may confidently affirm, That whatever Thought, Reason, Argument, Suggestion, Proposition, Imagination would discourage us from a close adherence unto God, from a fervent love to our gracious Redeemer, from earnest breathings and pantings after him, from relying on him, and obeying him, and encourage us to any thing that's displeasing to God, or contrary to Christs rules and in­junctions, or prejudicial to the honour of God, or to the welfare of our Neighbor, or to a good Conscience, whether the suggestion be immediately like lightning shot and dart­ed into the mind, or conveyed immediately by our corrupted hearts, or by the world, or be adversity, or by prosperity, or by good report, or by evil report, they are Tempta­tions of the Enemy, which how plausible so­ever, design nothing but our decay in good­ness, and in the favour of God, and the loss of our spiritual comfort and refreshment. Consideration examines the end of all these motions, and finding out the mischief they drive at, discovering the Tempest they aim at, it cannot but give great satisfaction to a rational Man, that would not be a stranger to himself.

Indeed none are more sensible of the plea­sure of this Consideration, than those whom [Page 118] Gods Spirit hath rais'd from the death of sin, and who have escap'd the pollutions of the world through lust. These reflect with more than ordinary delight on the snares, from which they have in a great measure been de­liver'd. And though they are still subject to Temptations, yet that which very much contents them, is, that they are not ignorant of Satans devices. They see the windings and turnings of the Enemy, and can laugh at the miserable shifts he uses to deceive them. They see his goings and his ways, and can trace the Foe in all his stratagems. They see his juggles, and how he tears the sinner day and night.

Look, O my Soul, look upon yonder Sin­ner, that hath renounc'd his follies, and yet goes drooping under the burthen of his sins. Dost not thou see the Enemy behind him? The Foe can make him presume no longer, and therefore he seeks to drive him to de­spair; and he that before told the Wretch of Gardens, and Walks, and Pleasures, now shews him nothing but Hell, and a burning Lake. He that before represented God to him as a mighty Sardanapalus, one that doth not mind such little things, as sins, now sets out God, array'd in a habit of vengeance, and as one who doth but watch for an op­portunity to condemn him. He that before [Page 119] made the burthen lighter than straw and stubble, now makes his little finger heavier than his loins, and assures him, that what seem'd but a Cloud before, is all Hill and Mountain now. He that before talk'd of no­thing but mercy seats, now changes his note, and knows of no other remedies, but Tri­bunals of judgment. He that before made the silly wretch believe that God had no voice but that of mercy, no sceptre but that of love, makes God all thunder and light­ning now.

Judas believes him, and is lost; Mary Mag­dalen sees the imposture, and escapes; she rests upon Christs word, and is convinc'd, that there is no sin that's capable of true re­pentance, but is capable of pardon too; and that Christ is so far from casting those away that come to him with an humble and con­trite spirit, that the greatest ease and refresh­ment is their portion. She sees that the poor in spirit have a right to the Kingdom of Hea­ven; and that those that mourn, shall never be destitute of comfort. She is sensible, how happy that person is, that feels his heart blee­ding and melting upon the account of his former sins, and can make his Bed to swim with tears. She is sensible the Holy Ghost moves upon these waters, and that such a per­son is indeed baptized with water, and the Holy Ghost.

[Page 120]This she beholds, and beholds with plea­sure. Consideration gives her a prospect of the Devils subtilty, and her eyes gush out with tears of joy. And certainly, if it be a greater pleasure to see than to grope in the dark; a greater pleasure to know the preci­pices I am hurried into, than to have them hid from mine eyes; a greater pleasure to see the brink of destruction I do stand upon, than to be ignorant of it; Consideration must be a pleasure, for this shews me the steep Rock Temptation, this ignis fatuus, would have led me to; the Ditch this false light would have flatter'd me into; the fatal Sea this false star would have seduc'd me into.

How have I seen a Traveller rejoyce, when waking in the morning, he hath seen the Water, or the Mine, he must have necessarily tumbled into, if he had gone but one step farther, and had not stopt where he did; how doth he admire the Providence which hath preserv'd him, and how doth he go on in his way rejoycing, that he hath seen the gulph he might have rusht into, and escap'd it! And O sinner, dost not thou think thou shouldst re­joyce, to find by Consideration, that thy aversness from Religion, thy backwardness to Devotion, thy unwillingness to spend time in private Meditations, thy excusations of sin, thy palliations of extravagant desires, thy [Page 121] pleadings for Licentiousness, thy Apologies for pleasing the lusts of thy flesh, thy eager­ness to run into evil company, thy desires to wallow in uncleanness, thy longings after things Gods Word forbids, thy inclination to unbelief, that all these are Temptations of the Devil, Corn which that Fowler spreads and scatters before the unwary Birds to kill, and to destroy them. Consideration would dis­mantle Satan, pull off his mask and vizard, and convince thee that the sweetness of the Potion, is but to make the Poyson go down more glib; and however the Pill may be gilded, it is but to dazle thee into love with eternal ruine.

V. Impediment.

V. Danger of losing their unlawful gain▪ It's a thing not unusual for men to thrive by sin, and to prosper by iniquity; to grow rich by oppression, and to advance in wealth by unlawful callings; to get money by plea­sing other men in their lusts, and to procure a livelihood by injustice, and complying with the Vices of the Age we live in. The Devil must have some rewards to bestow, else his Kingdom would soon expire; and though his rewards as well as temptations are deceitful, yet rewards they are, and be­ing [Page 122] present and visible, and consequently apt to make the deeper impressions, they invite more strongly, and caress men into desire and appetite. Men many times would not venture on sin, but that they believe it is the way to gain, and the known road to advan­tage and emolument. And as sin is judged to be the way to profit, so they look upon't as the onely means to preserve what they have got and acquired.

If Absolom had not had a Kingdom in his eye, he would hardly have dared to rebel, and Viper-like, to prey upon the bowels that did feed and nourish him. Demas sees how plentifully the Heathen Priests did live, what credit, what honour, what wealth and glory they enjoy'd, and that makes him forsake Christianity, and embrace their wayes. It was gain made Demetrius so zealous for the worship of Diana, and the Masters of that Damsel that had a familiar spirit so earnest for telling of fortunes, and unlawful divinati­ons. And we know who they were that told the Prophet Jeremy, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink-offer­ings unto her, for then we had plenty of victu­als, [Page 123] and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the Queen of Hea­ven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been con­sum'd by the Sword, and by the Famine, Jer. 44.16, 17, 18.

And indeed, this principle, that a sinful life, is the only profitable life doth so spread, and infect the hearts of men, that most are afraid to sit down and consider their ways, for fear Consideration should make them weary of a sinful life, and consequently make them quit and cashier the gain and profit, they do reap by it. Profit is the great God­dess the world adores, and to preserve that, men employ their strength and friends, and make use of all opportunities to secure it; it's that which they are truly jealous of, and which is as dear to them, as their lives, and which makes them climb rocks, and clamber mountains, and fight their way through all impediments that would oppose and cross it: Touch that, and you touch the apple of their eye; and whatever cause they are zea­lous for, though other reasons may be pre­tended, yet profit and interest commonly is the true cause that inflames their passions, and makes their spirits fervent; and they seldom matter whether it be by lawful, or unlawful ways, that they have made their [Page 124] fortunes, so they be but made and advanc'd to such a pitch, they'll be sure to protect, what they have purchas'd, and it is not an easie matter, shall snatch it out of their clutches.

Consideration that unruly faculty would create ill thoughts of such gain in their minds, and therefore as men that are loth to meet their Creditors, and when they see them afar off, turn out of the way, that they may have no occasion to speak to them; so the generality of men do carefully shun Consi­deration, as an unhappy Remembrancer, that will put them in mind of things they do not desire to hear, and touch the sore they would not have handled or medled withall, and search into those wounds they would not have healed up, or come under the hand of a Physitian. I do but think, what a world of Religious men we should have, how men would flock to Christ from all corners, what a number of pious Souls would appear in all places, if we could assure them, that a serious life will for certain furnish them with an estate answerable to their luxurious appe­tite; and I am apt to believe, were men con­fident, and could they trust to it, that they should get an estate of 9 or 10000 l. per annum, by frequent reading, praying, medi­tating, and obedience to Christs commands, [Page 125] the greatest part would make a hard shift to consider how to leave their sins and vices, and apply themselves to reformation, we should hear no more of the excuses they now make, that they have no time, or that their condition is such, that they cannot serve God, as they should. The impossibilities they now pretend, would all vanish; and they that now rack and torment, and tire them­selves for a little profit, upon prospect of so considerable an advantage, would turn their pains and labour another way, and become very devout worshippers of the Holy Jesus, and find no such trouble in a circumspect life, as now they do.

Should Christ appear in a visible shape from Heaven to the Swearer, or Drunkard, or Fornicator, or Adulterer, or Covetous, or any other of the sinful Herd, with vast glit­tering Treasures in his hand, nay, could we the Ministers of the Gospel secure such a Lo [...]dship, such a Principality, such a King­dom, such an Empire, to any of these sinners, upon condition, they would part with their Vices, sure, it would be a mighty Temptation to them, to shake hands with their darling impieties; for I see they sell their Souls to the Devil, for 2, 3, or 400 l. many times; and I am so charitable as to think, they would save them for a far more considerable sum.

[Page 126]It's like some would be so brutish, so swi­nish, so sottish, (and yet but very few nei­ther) that would rather starve, than leave their sins; dwell rather in a Hogs-stie, than renounce wallowing in the mire of their fol­lies; and live upon bread and water rather, than deny their lustful desires; and stoop to the meanest, lowest, and most sordid condi­tion in the world rather, than bow to the noble commands of Christ Jesus; but one might engage safely for the generality of sin­ners, profit and riches being the great load­stone, that makes men willing to do any thing.

I see, how if a Prince, or other great per­son, men depend or hope for something from, dislike such a sin, they are guilty of, they can forbear it, and comply with their Princes will and devotion. I see how a person of quality can frown all his family into seriousness; and the most vicious servant he hath, for fear of losing his Masters favour, and the good place he hath under him, will find a way for profits sake to subdue his inclinations, and take leave of a sinful pleasure, since it is so that he cannot enjoy that and his Masters good will together. And therefore could we pro­mise Temporal Crowns and Scepters, and Estates, and were we able to perform our promise upon mens quitting of their sins, it's [Page 127] very probable, Holiness and Seriousness would be mainly embrac'd and follow'd, and what is now out of fashion, would be as much the mode then; and a person that would not conform to the rules and orders of a serious life, would look like an Antick as much, as he doth now, that dares be truly good in a sinful, and adulterous generation.

But seeing all the Divinity we teach, can­not increase their Trade, and make their rocks drop with honey, and sill their trunks with shining clay, they look upon that holiness, we press and recommend to them, as a very beg­garly business, and mind it only on the By, when they have nothing else to do.

And this is it, confirms them in their fancy, That a loose and vicious life is the only gain­ful life, a Maxim notoriously false, and which Consideration would soon scatter, were it but call'd in to do its office; this would re­present to them, how their gain, which hath so ill a foundation, must necessarily be a Moth in their Estates; and how promising soever their gettings may be for the present, they will soon bring a consumption on their fortune, and prepares for their greater sorrow and vexation. This would represent to them, how such gain doth purchase the wrath of God, and procures treasures of Gods indig­nation, how it prognosticates a more plenti­ful [Page 128] condemnation, and is a presage of richer flames hereafter. This would lay before them that saying of Christ, Matth. 16.26. What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? This would shew them their stupendious folly, in venturing eternal torment for a little trash; and disco­ver to them, how dear they buy their plenty.

Consideration would let them see, That a serious life is, in despite of all the suggesti­ons of the Devil to the contrary, the way to the greatest gain, and yields the most dura­ble profit, and lays a foundation for riches, which grow not old, and fade not away; and that peace with God. is a far greater treasure, than all the gold of Ophir; and reconcilia­tion by the blood of Jesus, a nobler posses­sion, than all the jewels and pearls of the In­dian Monarchs; and that the Apostle was in the right, when he counted all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Phil. 3.8.

This would shew them, That Friendship with God, and fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, is worth more than Ten thousand worlds, and represent to them the groans of the damn'd in Hell, who, were they to live over their days again, would sell [Page 129] all they had to purchase this Pearl, and give Ten thousand millions of gold, if they had them, for this friendship, because this friend­ship would blow out their flames, and cool their burning Tongues, which all that mass of wealth will not do.

Consideration would lay open all the riches, a serious life procures; it would let them see, that the intercession of Christ Jesus is entail'd upon't, a blessing inconsiderable in the eyes of the world, but which men will one day set a higher price upon, when it is too late. To have an Advocate in Heaven, who answers all the cavils and exceptions, and accusations of the Devil against our sincere endeavours, who controlls the rage and malice of the enemy, steps in, while the Foe is arguing against us, shews his merits, his wounds, and the marks of his nails, and makes our imperfect services pass for current Coin in the Court of the Highest, covers the weaknesses and infirmities of our duties, perfumes our devotions with the pre­cious odors of his satisfaction, offers up our prayers in his golden Censer, throws his garment over us, stops the Lyons mouth that's open'd against us, contrives our happi­ness, promotes our interest with God, and pleads, not to cast us away from his presence, nor to take his holy Spirit from us; what [Page 130] profit there is in having such an Intercessor, none will ere long be more sensible of, than those who have been destitute of the benefit of this intercession, and indeed none share in that mercy, but men that dare apply them­selves to that serious life, whereof Conside­ration is the Key.

Consideration would shew them, That this serious life gains the assistance and illumina­tion of Gods Spirit. And indeed, to have the mind so purged, as to see the vanity and emptiness of all sublunary objects, the beau­ty of holiness, the odiousness and loathsom­ness of sin, the transcendent excellency of God, the designs of Gods Providence, the methods of Gods Mercy, the reasonableness and equity of his proceedings, and to be so assisted from above, as to dare to oppose the most pleasing Temptations, though they charm never so wisely; and to esteem one hours communion with God, above all the preferments and glories of the world; (for in this manner the Holy Ghost assists those that apply themselves to a serious circum­spect life) he that sees no profit, no gain, no advantages in this priviledge, may justly be supposed to be quite blinded by the god of this world.

Consideration would let them see, that the Promises of the Gospel are other gets riches, [Page 131] than plenty of Corn and Wine, and Oyl; that there is no distress, no calamity, no misery, wherein these Promises cannot hold a Belie­vers head, and support him against fainting; that these can give content, when nothing in the world can quiet the Soul; and that these can make men triumph, when they are made as the filth of the world, and as the off­scowring of all things.

Consideration would let them see the un­speakable gain which attends the serious, sin­cere, and self-denying Christian when he comes to dye. This would shew them, that the immarcessible Crown of glory, the reward of a serious life, doth infinitely transcend all that the world can imagine advantageous and profitable.

Nay, Consideration would discover to them, That a serious, circumspect life, entitles men to temporal gain, as well as to spiritual and eternal advantages. This would shew them, that more men are ruined in their estates, by a Vicious, than there are by a Re­ligious Conversation; and that Drunkards, Whoremongers, Adulterers, Ambitious, and Quarrelsom men, break sooner and oftner in the world, than those whose business it is to keep a Conscience void of offence towards God and man. This would shew them, that this worlds Goods are not ingrossed, or pos­sessed [Page 132] altogether by men, who slight God and their own Souls; but that even many of those, who truly fear God, have a very large share in temporal plenty and prosperity; and that many times men thrive the better for a serious life, and a secret blessing attends them, plenty steals upon them beyond expectation; and as if some good Angel were at work for them, riches flow insensibly upon them, and every thing they undertake doth prosper, insomuch that themselves cannot but wonder at their increase.

This would convince them, that many men who during their ungodly Conversati­on, could not thrive, have signally prospered in the world, as soon as they have applied themselves to a serious life; and that a seri­ous man is best qualified for getting profit, and encreasing an Estate; and that the gene­rality of men had rather deal with a consci­entious man, than with a person who is care­less of all things, but his own interest, as knowing, that being conscientious, he dares not cheat, or deceive them, but will think himself obliged to deal justly and honestly with them, and do by them, as he would have others do by him; and that this is the great misfortune of ungodliness, and the glory of a serious life, in that one wicked man dares not trust another, but both good and [Page 133] bad dare trust him, who stands in awe of God, and makes it his great care and study, how to please him.

This would shew them, that the serious man in being charitable, takes the readiest way to prosper in his secular Concerns; and that as great a Paradox as it may seem to sen­sual men, there is not a greater truth in the world, than that which Solomon speaks of, Prov. 11.24. There is he that scattereth, and yet encreases. This would lay before them the Examples of men, who by consecrating a great part of their Estate and Incomes to pi­ous and charitable uses, have enlarged their fortunes, and by casting their bread upon the water, have found it again with interest after many dayes, who have denied themselves in their superfluities, and yet are grown rich, given away, and gotten more than they had in times past. This would lead them into the pleasant field of Gods Providence, and shew them how that wise and gracious God wheels and turns things about for the good of those that dare trust him for a recompence, and makes that money which was laid out for the use of the Needy, return with advantage and usury.

Consideration would let them see, how various Gods temporal blessings are, which [Page 134] very often light on the head of a serious re­ligious man; and though he hath no Trade, which stands in need of augmentation, but a standing revenue, how yet God may watch over him so, that he shall lose little, and all he undertakes shall prosper; that his houses shall be preserv'd from fire, and his Cattle from decay; that his fields shall bring forth plentifully, and his lands be as the garden of the Lord; that he shall see his posterity ad­vance in wealth and honour, and his chil­drens children grow as the lillies, and spread their branches as the Cedars in Lebanon.

Consideration would let them see, how a whole Kingdom thrives, where seriousness and the fear of God is encourag'd with vigor and sincerity. What a darling a serious Prince is to his Subjects, how well they love him, how highly they esteem him, and how plen­tifully and contentedly they live under his shadow. This would refresh their memories, how upon a publick humiliation God hath been entreated, and the judgments under which a Nation groan'd, have been averted; and the Heavens which before were turn'd into brass, have visited the Earth again with showers, and the former scarcity hath been transform'd into plenty and abundance; and how God hath seen their works, that they [Page 135] turn'd from their evil ways, and hath repented himself of the evil he had said, he would do unto them, and hath not done it.

Consideration would let them see, that though a serious man should decay in the world, and his conscientiousness be the cause of his ruine, yet he would have more to sup­port him under his losses than another man, and it could not but be a very great satisfa­ction to him, that it was not any vice of licen­tiousness, that broke him, but a good Con­science, which is its own reward, and the best preservative, against murmuring, repining, and despair, and very often a presage, That God will set him up again, and as it was in Job's case, make the latter part of his life more prosperous than the former.

By such representations as these, Conside­ration would scatter this suggestion of the Devil, That a sinful life, is the onely gainful and advantageous life. But what argument can prevail against Experience; and where men have found already, that their sins have prov'd profitable, and that their carelesness of Religion hath procur'd them no small ad­vantages? Their great care and study now must be, that they do not put themselves in­to a way of losing them; and therefore ex­hort them to consider, what the end of these things will be, and whether this be a likely [Page 136] course, to get a title to the inheritance in­corruptible reserv'd in Heaven for Believers; they'll be ready to reply, What, part with my livelihood? Quit that which must sup­port my Family? Would you have me starve and perish? Will your Religiousness give me bread? Would you have me precipitate my self into ruine? Will nothing less serve the turn, than leaving all, and following Christ? Why should I despair, when God blesses me; and think ill of my way of liv­ing, when God, by prospering my endeavors, declares his approbation of my deportment? My gain is his mercy; and if he did not al­low of what I did, he would with-hold his benediction. His giving success to what I do, shews his love; and I have reason to believe he is not angry with me for taking this course, because he never cross'd it by his thunders. God would have me live in the World, and since I have no other way to thrive but this, I must suppose it's that which God hath call'd me to. My industry is in obedience to his command, and why should I fright my self with his indignation, when my prosperous fortunes speak his smiles and sun­shine!

Consideration would let them see, that God doth not bless them for their sins, but doth it to invite them to amendment. Nay, [Page 137] this would suggest to them, that it may not be God that blesses them, but the Devil; and that he that is permitted to shew them all the Kingdoms of the world, and the glories of them in a moment, hath power also to re­ward iniquity; and that prosperity which is acquir'd by sin, cannot be of Gods making, but is an effect of the Devils bounty, who never gives, but with an intent to murther; and makes Presents for no other end, but to make the Soul a prey to his fury; who gives, like the Grecians, onely to overcome; and seems kind, onely to get an interest in the sinner, and to take advantage against him, when there shall be occasion; who blesses with a design to curse, and rewards to har­den men in their contempt of the Almigh­ty, who lets men reap profit, that they may venture confidently on sin, and is contented, they should have something for their pains, that they may dedicate themselves more en­tirely to his service.

But what can you expect from men, that are resolv'd not to s [...]e, and are so wedded to their gain, that they are frighted with the very thoughts of a remedy, that would clear their sight, and shew them the fatal hand, that gives them their prosperity, and discover to them, the Fiend, that conveys the gain, [Page 138] they get, into their houses, and bribes them into everlasting Tortures.

O poor besotted sinners! And do you lose Heaven for this? Is it for this, you leap into destruction? Is it for this, you hazard the favour of God? Is it for this, you scorn the gold of the Sanctuary? Is it for this, that the riches of grace and mercy, are vile and mean, and despicable in your eyes? Would any man think, you had rational, immortal Souls within you, that sees you live thus? Would any man imagine that you believe a reward to come, that sees you so greedy after a present recompence? so greedy, that you fight your way through Oaths, Curses, Lyes, Oppression, Extortion, Injustice, Covetous­ness, Uncleanness, Blasphemy, Flatteries, Rai­lings, Slanders, Abuses, Drunkenness, and through the most sneaking, most sordid, and most disingenuous sins, to get it? To see this, what sober man would not bless himself? What man of reason would envy such ad­vantages? Pity you he may, but he can never wish for your happiness, for that which you call happiness, is misery in grain, and must shortly die into endless lamentations, Verily I say unto you, you have your reward, Mat. 6.5.

VI. Impediment.

VI. Fear of being melancholy with so much seriousness, is another Impediment. And as the Devil ceases not day and night to in­still this principle into mens minds, so it usu­ally prevails with the jolly Crew, and such as are all for mirth and raillery, and hate sadness as their most deadly Enemy. Consideration they are afraid will strike them into dumps, and a view of the odiousness and loathsom­ness of their sinful life, deprive them for ever of that merry temper, kind nature hath be­stow'd on them. Consideration of their dan­ger, they fear, will put them in mind of the severe Duties of Religion, and suggest some­thing to them that will lie gnawing within, and make them, that they shall never enjoy a merry hour again. They look upon men abroad, who have applied themselves to Consideration of their wayes, and studied how they shall be happy after death, and find, it had spoil'd their triumphs, and caus'd them to walk about discouraged, and de­jected. They see how some, that think much of their salvation, hang down their heads, like a bulrush, fold their arms, and spend their days in tears, and weeping. They see how uncomfortable Consideration hath made [Page 140] their lives, how it hath fill'd their hearts with sorrow, and grief, and anguish, and they are afraid, this will be their fate, and the effects it hath wrought in others, fright them, lest they should be as disconsolate as they. While they maintain their jolly temper, they can live quietly, and with content; and while they have little or nothing to do with those serious things, Divines do talk of, they feel no disturbance; and why should they med­dle with Consideration, which will certainly infuse sad thoughts into their minds, and give them gall and vinegar to drink?

And are not these excellent Arguments against Consideration? Are not these very lofty and pregnant Reasons, to confute the necessity of so great a Duty? Wretched, de­luded men! Consideration would let you see, that there is a great difference between melancholy and seriousness; and that every man that looks grave and sober, is not there­fore dejected, and discompos'd within; and that it's possible for men not to rant, and tear, and swagger, and yet to enjoy great calm and quietness in their Souls. That a man is not therefore sad, because he will not swear and drink, nor therefore Hypocondriack, because his Conscience will not digest those sins which you can swallow down without chewing.

[Page 141]Consideration would let you see, That you who allow your selves in sin and vanity, of all men have least reason to be merry, who have the King immortal and invisible, for your Enemy, and the blood of Jesus speak­ing against you, and Gods Spirit bearing wit­ness of your disobedience, and know not how soon God will open the flood gates of his anger, and how soon your portion will be in outward darkness; who have no title to the benefits of Christs passion, and are dead while you live; who have your understand­ings darkned, your inward and outward man polluted, and your garments spotted by the flesh.

Consideration would let you see, That your joy and mirth is but slight and superfi­cial, so far from being solid, that oftentimes in your very laughter, your heart is sorrow­ful; and as fair as you carry things outward­ly, your Consciences cannot but fright you with an approaching storm sometimes; and as merry as you seem to be, you now and then feel terrors, which make you flee, when no man pursues you. This would let you see, how short your mirth and pleasures are, and how they perish in the very enjoyment, and are no better than Butterflies; which when you have with great labour and industry got into your hands, their curious colours decay [Page 142] with a touch, and you can boast of nothing but a squalid Worm. This would shew you how weak a thing it is with Lysimachus, for a cup of cold water to lose a Kingdom, and to hazard an eternity of joy for mirth, which at the best is but as a morning cloud, and as the early Dew, which soon passes away.

Consideration would let you see, That your mirth is worse than sadness and sorrow, because it proceeds from a stupified Soul, and from a hard heart; and that it is rather a mans felicity to be a stranger to your mirth, than unhappiness, because your mirth is so vain, your delight so frothy, and your joy usually hath such a fearful end, an end, much like that of Belshazzar, who made a Feast to his Lords, drank Wine before them, and to make the Deboshe complete, and to make the blood of the grapes drink with greater briskness, call'd for the golden Vessels, which his Father had taken out of the Temple of Jerusalem, as if it encreas'd the pleasure of drink to profane those Vessels by drunken­ness, which were consecrated to God, and Wine out of a Bowl of the Sanctuary, gave greater life to the spirits, and reviv'd the heart more than a common Cup. But while their hearts danc'd and leapt for joy, an unknown hand from Heaven writes the dreadful Mene Mene Tekel, Vpharsin, upon the Wall, and on a [Page 143] sudden, the Kings countenance changes, and his thoughts trouble him, so that the joints of his loins were loosen'd, and his knees smote one against another, Dan. 5.6.

Consideration would let you see, That your joy doth not deserve the name of joy, and that your mirth is nothing but wanton­ness, and how much below a great spirit such pleasures are, how unworthy of a man crea­ted after Gods image and similitude, how empty they leave your souls, and how like the Sea when ebbing in muddy places, leave nothing but stink and filth, and nastiness be­hind them.

Consideration would let you see, That none can rejoyce so heartily as those, who make it their business to please God, and to be happy for ever. This would shew you, That light is sown for the righteous, and glad­ness for the upright in heart, Psal. 97.11. And that no persons in the World have greater reason to rejoyce than they, whose great care and study, is first to seek the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, as being persons, who are acquainted with a lively faith, and know by blessed experience what that hope means, whereby men purifie themselves even as God is pure, and what it is to be strengthen'd with all might unto all patience, and long-suffering, and what the constraining love of [Page 144] God implies, and what it is to be married to him, who is altogether lovely, and what it is to have union and communion with him.

Consideration would shew you, that peace of Conscience, and honour with God, and the Spirits making intercession for us with groans unutterable, and pardon of sins, priviledges which attend a serious preparation for a bet­ter World, are a continual Feast, and conse­quently afford matter for greater joy, than all the rarities and curiosities of this present life. This would let you see, That that one bles­sing, pardon of sin, which a serious man en­joys, is a mercy which he may justly re­joyce and triumph in, more than the greatest Monarch of this world in his boundless Em­pire. This would lead your thoughts to take a view of the present condition of the un­happy spirits in Hell, to whom pardon of sin would be a greater comfort and refreshment, than all the pleasures of this World distill'd into quintessence. Should a Proclamation be made in that dismal Vault, by some Angel sent from Heaven, that all the Prisoners are freed from their guilt, by the new and living way, even by the blood of Jesus, and that God hath condescended at last, and is pre­vail'd withall to forgive their iniquities, what leaping, what dancing, what joy, what glad­ness, what exultation of spirit, what serenity [Page 145] of face, what a chearful air would appear in every corner of that loathsom Prison! How would one Wretch jog the other, and bid him break out into praises and celebrations of his Maker, for so great a favour! How like Heaven would Hell look on a sudden, and all their exclamations which grief and an­guish did draw from them, change into ex­clamations of gladness! How would their hearts swell, and dilate themselves, and tran­sport them into an extasie of joy! How sor­did, how mean, how pitiful, how inconside­rable would all their former sensual delights seem to this pleasure or satisfaction!

Consideration would let you see, That whatever men that are become vain in their imaginations, may prate, there is no pleasure, no felicity like that which flows from walk­ing in the wayes of God; that in this Gar­den are the sweetest Roses, the most odorife­rous Flowers, the most fragrant Plants, Roses which have no prickles underneath, like your carnal delights, flowers which wither not away, like that frothy mirth which the laugh­ter of Fools affords, Plants which feed, and nourish, and heal, and poyson not, like those airy satisfactions which flow from making provision for the flesh. This would repre­sent to your minds the examples of millions of Saints, Who are able from their own ex­perience [Page 146] to affirm, that the ways of serious­ness, are truly ways of pleasantness; and that all her paths are peace; that they have found more satisfaction in being door-keepers in the house of God, than they have done in being Masters of the most glorious Tents of wickedness; that they have had more joy from contemplation of Heavens glory, and from reflecting on the beauty of holi­ness, in one hour, than ever they received from running up and down many years to­gether, after the things the vain World is enamor'd withall; that they would not be in that miserable, unregenerate estate again, if they might have whole Kingdoms to entice them; and that there is no condition in all the World so full of Bryars and Thorns, and Anguish, and Pain, and Disquietness, and Trouble, and Vexation, as a sinful life, and an unconverted state.

Consideration would let you see, That those serious persons who look dejected and melancholy, have joyes within which no stranger intermeddles withall, and as little shew as they make of chearfulness, they car­ry that within their breasts, as can make their life a perpetual Jubilee. So far is Considera­tion from making men melancholy, that it points at the things where the greatest joy is to be found; and as Consideration it self is [Page 147] a pleasure, as we prov'd before, so it is a guide to lead men into such a Paradise, as they would be content to lose themselves in, and desire no greater felicity on this side Heaven.

VII. Impediment.

VII. Fear of going distracted with poring on things too high for their capacities. The aversness from a truly, serious, circumspect life, in most men is so very great, that they'll entertain the absurdest, silliest, and most childish pretences, rather than be persuaded to that course, God and his holy Angels, Scri­pture, Conscience, Ministers, and all the Pro­vidences of God do call and invite them to. And such a shift is that we have before us, a plea so impertinent, that we might justly ask the question, Whether those that make use of it, are not distracted already? Men had as good give us a downright answer, and tell us plainly, That they will not take their ever­lasting state into Consideration, and will have nothing to do with salvation, as make us con­clude so much from their unsteddiness and tergiversations. They love to leave God and themselves, and their Neighbors in the dark; and we find, they halt between two opinions, unresolv'd, whether they shall follow God or [Page 148] Baal. They would neither, displease God, nor the Devil. The Devils favour they keep, and maintain by their secret aversness from a serious preparation for another life, and Gods good will they court, by pretending that they would follow him, were it not for such and such obstacles and impediments. And in­deed their flesh does no sooner suggest an excuse to their minds, but they presently flat­ter themselves, that that shift will be a suffi­cient Apology for neglect of their duty. And though going distracted with Consideration, be a thing very unlikely, next to impossible, yet a pitiful shift being better than none, this comes in with the rest, and helps to rock the Soul into a sleeping slumber; it seems their brains are strong enough to contrive, how to promote their own fall, but will not serve them to ponder, how to keep themselves from ruine.

One would think they could not be worse mad than they are already, and therefore they might venture upon a serious Conside­ration of their wayes without danger. Take a view of thy actions, sinner! Go into hou­ses where mad men are kept, and see whether thy deportment and practice be not as like theirs, as one thing can be like another: it's the character of mad men to choose means altogether unsutable to the end, they design, [Page 149] if they offer to kindle a fire with shining brass, or attempt to build a house without materials, or think that a Net will secure them against the bitterest Frost, or hope to be Masters of a Trade without learning of it, or talk of being acquainted with such a lan­guage, when they have neither Books nor Men to converse withall, we justly look up on them as distracted, and would not one think thou art besides thy wits, that hears thee hope for Heaven, without taking the way that leads to it? And talk of being sa­ved, when thy actions savor only of prepa­ration for eternal misery? To hope to be sa­ved by following the dictates of thy flesh, is as wise an act, as to hope to be warm by sitting upon Ice, or by surrounding thy self with Snow-balls. Thou wouldst take that man to be besides himself, that should choose to lie all night in mire and dirt, when there is a convenient Bed provided for him; or that should-prefer sleeping on a Dunghil, before reposing himself upon a cleanly Couch. And dost not thou act the same madness, when thou preferrest lying in the Arms of an Ene­my, before resting in the bosome of a graci­ous Redeemer? And hadst rather rest in sin, more odious and loathsome to God than any Dunghil, than delight thy self in him, whose service is perfect freedom.

[Page 150]Can there be greater madness, than to pre­fer Stone before Bread, and a Serpent before a Fish? And is not thy Distraction as great, to esteem a sinful pleasure more, than the fa­vour of God? And set by the Dross and Dung of this World more, than by the ex­cellency of the knowledge of Christ? Is this thy wisdom, to neglect thy weightiest Concerns, and spend thy time in admiring Bubbles? Is this thy wisdom, to prefer a few drops, before an immense Ocean of blessed­ness, an Atom before an Infinite, and the small dust upon the balance, before Mount Zion, which can never be mov'd? Is this thy wis­dom, to thrust away salvation with both Arms, and to oppose the endeavours of that God, that would even compel thee to come to the Supper of the Lamb? Is this thy wis­dom, to lie in a Dungeon, when a Palace is prepared for thy reception? And to be enamor'd with deformity it self, when thou art courted by him, who is altogether lovely? Is this thy wisdom, to relie on broken Reeds, rather than on the Rock of Ages? And to trust more to Castles in the Air, than to him, who is the Ancient of dayes, and hath pro­mis'd neither to leave nor to forsake those that call upon him faithfully?

And when the case stands thus with thee, when thou art as mad as thou canst well be, [Page 151] sure thou needest not be afraid, that Consi­deration of thy wayes will make thee so. Consideration? Why this would make thee sober: This would bring thee to thy right senses again. This would make thee live like a rational man again. This would restore thee to thy Wits again. This would cure the Distempers of thy Brain. This would be so far from promoting, that it would chase away all madness and distraction. This would clear thy Understanding, and rectifie thy Will and Affections, and make all thy facul­ties move more orderly.

Consideration would let thee see, what madness it is to despise him, whom thou stan­dest most in need of; and to neglect that now, which upon thy Death-bed thou wilt wish, thou hadst minded day and night. This would shew thee, what a folly it is to slight the Fountain of living waters, and to hunt after broken Cisterns, which can hold no water; and to esteem a Wilderness, a Land of Desarts, and of Pits, a Land of drought, and of the sha­dow of death; a Land which no man passes through, and where no man dwells, infinitely more than a plentiful Countrey, Jer. 2.6. This would shew thee, what a folly it is to forfeit the favour of him, that must be thy Judge one day; and to make him thy Foe, with­out whose mercy, thou must fall a prey to [Page 152] Hellish furies; to scorn that Provision now, the crums whereof thou wilt be glad to ga­ther one day; and to mock his kindness now, when one day thou wouldst rejoyce at the least smile of his countenance, if thou couldst but have it. This would shew thee what a folly it is to be ravish'd more with a painted Coronet, than with the real glories of a Kingdom; and to rejoyce more, in the pre­sent pomp and adoration of a Stage, than in thy right to the reversion of a Crown; and what distraction it is to think, that the great God, who changes not, will make those bles­sed, who renounce his bliss; and quench Hell-fire for men, because they are resolved to run into it; to make those like unto the Angels of God, that will live like Beasts here; and prefer those to this Throne, that would not have him to reign over them. This would shew thee what a folly it is to make merry at the brow of a Pit; and to sing Care away, when thy sins call for mourning and lamenta­tion.

Consideration, sinner, would let thee see, That there is no Wisdom like that Wisdom, which makes men wise unto salvation; and that those who deny all ungodliness, and world­ly lusts, living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and that glorious appearing of the great [Page 153] God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, are the on­ly men, that are in their Wits; and that the rest who forget their calling, and walk not worthy of the vocation wherewith they are call'd, do really unman themselves, and live below their reason. This would let thee see, that those who give all diligence to add to their faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to tempe­rance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to bro­therly kindness, charity; and are not barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the men that choose the fittest means for the greatest end; and that he that works to day in Gods Vineyard, and so num­bers his dayes, that he may apply his heart unto Wisdom; and lives like a person, that re­members he hath a Soul to be saved, is the man, who governs his Affairs with discretion. This would let thee see, that men do pretend to Learning in vain, while they are ignorant of mortification of their members, which are upon the earth; and of that spiritual life, which is every mans greatest interest. That the Logician, who resolves all knotty Argu­ments, is but a Fool, while he knows not, how to keep himself from the snares of the Devil; and that the Grammarian, who recti­fies the errors of Speech, is but a mad man, [Page 154] while he takes no care to rectifie the errors of his life. That the Astronomer who tells the stars, and calls them by their names, is vain in his imaginations, while he hath not his conversation in Heaven. That the Metaphy­sitian that speculates things above sense and nature, is but a very indiscreet person, while he takes no heed to make God his highest comfort and delight. That all Opticks are Nonsence, which do not teach men to behold the mighty God that made them. And all Geometry but confusion, which leaves men ignorant of the heighth and depth of the love of God.

Consideration would discover to thee, how irrational a thing sin is, what strange, unman­ly Actions it puts men upon, Actions which they must be asham'd of, if ever they are sa­ved; and must renounce, and detest, when they have done them, if ever they arrive to inward peace and satisfaction. This would set before thee the Euges, the Applause, the Honour, God bestows on those, who are so wise, as to take their leave of sin, before sin leaves them; and exercise themselves unto godliness, that they may attain unto eternal life.

But what will not Prejudice do? It was that which made the Jews call Christ a Sama­ritan, a Devil, a Wine-bibber, a Friend of [Page 155] Publicans and Sinners. It was that made them hale the Apostles to their Governors, and cry out, Away with them, it's not fit they should live upon the earth. It's this sets men against Consideration of their wayes, and makes them give out, that it will crack their brains, and disorder their understandings, In­deed it will cause a tumult in the Soul, a con­flict between the Spirit and the flesh, between Christ and Belial, but such a strife, as will end in a glorious calm. When Considera­tion enters, Madness vanishes, as wild Beasts do creep into their Dens at the approach of day-light. The World may make men go besides themselves, Consideration reduces the whole man to sobriety. Consideration in­deed may put men upon actions, which in the Worlds apprehension may be madness, but of this none can judge, so well as he that is the fountain of Wisdom, even that God who is Wisdom it self; and if he set the mark of Wisdom on them, the verdict of the World is to be regarded no more, than the judgment a blind man gives of colours. I know, he that will deny himself in sensual pleasures, trembles at a sin, which others laugh at, and is afraid of offending God even in smaller matters, and prayes with all prayer and sup­plication, watching thereunto with all perse­verance, passes for a mad man, with men [Page 156] whose Consciences are defiled; but such mens tongues are no slanders: and Conside­ration would shew, that nothing is more agreeable to the rules of Wisdom and Pru­dence, than to live in conformity to the Will and Pleasure of him, who is the great Sove­reign of the World, and hath given us Souls capable of being govern'd by moral Laws, and Precepts, and is resolv'd to scourge him with Scorpions, that knows his Masters Will, and doth it not.

It was sin, made the Prodigal distracted; and in this he discover'd his folly, that he left his fathers house, and travell'd into a far Countrey, as far from Heaven and Holiness as he could, and there wasted his substance with riotous living, whence it came to pass, that a Famine arising in the Land, he would fain have fill'd his belly with the husks the Swine did eat, and no man would vouchsafe them to him. Consideration brought him to himself, and to his happiness again, and his pondering, How many servants of my father have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger? I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinn'd against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be call'd thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants, Luke 15.17, 18, 19. This, I say, brought his reason into order a­gain, [Page 157] and consequently prepared for his quiet and happiness. And indeed the confession of men, who put off the old, and put on the new man, created after God in righteousness, and true holiness, shews what we are to think of Consideration. When they come in good earnest to reflect on their former sinful life, they are ready to call themselves a thousand Fools, and Beasts, and Sots, and wonder how it was possible for them to live so long di­rectly contrary to reason, and to all the prin­ciples of gratitude and humility. Conside­ration sets all to rights again, and they would not for any thing, but that they had rumina­ted on their folly, and compared it with the interest of their Souls, and the Will of God, in order to a just aggravation of their mad­ness; for now they are sensible, that before they understood nothing to any purpose, and acted but like Changelings, contrary to all the dictates of the Law of Nature, and their own Consciences. Thus Consideration, as Ananias did to Saul, comes in, and immedi­ately there fall from the sinners eyes, as it were scales, and he receives sight forthwith, and ari­ses, and is strengthned, Acts 9. And Wisdom enters into his heart, such Wisdom as before he was a stranger to: The Merchandize of it, is better than the Merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold: she is more pre­cious [Page 158] than Rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her: she is a Tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retains her, Prov. 3.14, 15, 16, 17.

VIII. Impediment.

VIII. An opinion, that Conversion, or turn­ing to God, as Divines do represent it, is not ne­cessary to salvation. We may charitably be­lieve, that most men, who are averse from Consideration, come to Sermons, and we may suppose, that as careless as they are in hearing the Word of the living God, sometimes be­fore they are aware, something strikes their hearts, and sticks with them; which when they are any way sober, or free from business, will goad and sting them into Consideration of their ways, and not seldom with Agrippa, they are almost persuaded to take their sinful lives into serious Consideration, and feel good purposes, and wishes, and intentions, and de­sires in their Souls to set time apart for pon­dering how they may be converted, and dedi­cate themselves sincerely to Gods service, in order to their everlasting bliss. But in such cases, either the Devil, or their corrupt hearts are ready to whisper in their ears, that Con­version is not so operose, so laborious, so [Page 159] dreadful a thing, as is described in publick discourses; and that the men that preach, stretch it farther than needs; and consequent­ly Consideration, how to get into that state, that's recommended to them, is altogether needless; for if that strictness, and close walk­ing with God be not necessary, why should any man break his brains with Consideration how to attain to that humble, self-denying, circumspect life, as is said to be the essential ingredient of Conversion.

I know not how Conversion can be made more necessary, than Christ hath made it. It's that which Heaven is entailed on, and with­out which, Men (if they dare take the word of that Jesus, whom they do believe to be the Son of God) can look for nothing else but everlasting destruction: Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, Matth. 18.3. are the express words of him, who came from Heaven, to reveal his Fathers Will, words, which do not only import the absolute necessity, but represent the na­ture and manner of true Conversion. And if the words added by way of Explication, be thorowly weigh'd, it will appear to any ra­tional man, that that laborious Conversion, which the Ministers of the Gospel press, and recommend, is no other, but what Christ [Page 160] requires in order to salvation; for what can be the meaning of this phrase, becoming as lit­tle children, but that men must learn to be children in malice, 1 Cor. 14.20. pull down their passions, watch over their inordinate affections, overcome themselves, and harbor no grudge, no hatred, no revengeful thoughts in their hearts, against those that have offen­ded them, and like new born Babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby, 1 Pet. 2.2. i. e. with all humility and alacrity submit themselves to be guided, and ruled, and govern'd by the precepts and in­junctions of Christ in the Gospel, without disputing or contradicting his commands, though levell'd against flesh and blood, as much as children leave themselves to the gui­dance and direction of their Nurses, and have neither strength, nor will, nor malice, to op­pose the will or order of those that do lead them; Not that Christ forbids examining ei­ther the Divinity, or reasonableness of his Doctrines and Injunctions: No, God is not afraid to have his Will tried and examin'd by right reason; for as it is the effect of the highest reason, so it must needs be most agree­able to reason, it being impossible, that truth can be inconsistent with truth; and there­fore Christ doth so little discourage men from trying the Divinity of his Sayings and Com­mands, [Page 161] by the rule of right reason, that in several places he bids the Pharisees, and who­ever were his Adversaries, to judge imparti­ally of the Arguments he gave for the divine original of his doctrine. And without all peradventure, this liberty every man hath to examine, and satisfie himself, whether the in­junctions of Christ and his Apostles, were things that dropt from heaven or no. But then where men are convinc'd, or have sufficient reason to be convinc'd, that these Precepts are the peremptory Will of God concerning their salvation (as any person who is not a Changeling, or meer Natural, may find upon due examination and inquiry, if he will) there God expects most justly, that all pre­tences, and excuses, and carnal reasonings should fall, and the Soul submit readily to the yoke of Christ, and resign its will to Christs Will (though it cannot for the present com­prehend the true reason of some commands) and suffer itself to be acted, and guided by these Laws, without contradiction, or oppo­sition, or tergiversation, denying and re­nouncing every apprehension, or suggestion, that would sollicit or tempt it to start aside from sincere obedience, and all discourses, that would dash or impede its willingness and readiness to embrace them.

[Page 162]And indeed this is all we mean by true Conversion, viz. ceasing to obey the dictates of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and endeavouring seriously to live up to the pre­cepts of the Gospel, without asking our lusts, or vain desires, whether they are willing to it, or no; a sincere resolution to get from under the yoke of sin, and to make the Lord Jesus, who bought us with his own blood, our Supreme Ruler, and Governor. And since there can be no Government with­out Laws, and we never heard of any other Laws Christ gave, but what we have in the Gospel, we cannot, and dare not but con­clude, that to live up to these Laws of the Gospel, is true Conversion.

And indeed the primitive Christians took no person to be converted, that did not make these Laws the great Rule of his Life; and shew'd by his Actions, that he priz'd and esteem'd, and valu'd these Laws, above all the Orders, and Decrees, and Constitutions of the greatest Monarchs. When we do en­treat and admonish men to be converted, what do we do, but persuade them to mor­tifie their members which are upon the earth, Fornication, Uncleanness, inordinate Affecti­on, evil Concupiscence, and Covetousness, which is Idolatry; and to put off Anger, Wrath, Malice, Blasphemy, and filthy Com­munication [Page 163] of their Mouths; and to put on Bowels of Mercy, Kindness, Humbleness of Mind, Meekness, Long-suffering, so as to for­bear one another, and forgive one another. To let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admoni­shing one another in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs, singing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord; and whatever they do in word, or deed, to do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks un­to God and the Father through him. To be poor in spirit, to be meek, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to purifie their hearts, to follow peace with all men as much as in them lies. To be patient under Slan­ders, Reproaches, and Persecutions. To live in a sense of future Joyes, and of an everlast­ing Recompence. To avoid all apparent occasions of Evil, even things that are harm­less in themselves, if they provoke, or tempt to Sin. To avoid Swearing in their ordinary Discourses, and Communications; to love their Enemies, to do good to them that hate them, to pray for them which persecute them, and despitefully use them. To give Alms without any sinister ends, to pray without affectation of vain Applause, or laying any stress upon the length of their prayers. To fast without ostentation, to lay up their trea­sure [Page 164] in Heaven, to trust Gods Providence in their respective Callings and Conditions, to love him better than the World, to use the World as if they used it not, to seek first Gods Kingdom and his Righteousness. Not to judge rashly, but to forsake their greater sins, before they find fault with the lesser transgressions of their Neighbors. To walk in the strait way, and take pains for Heaven. To avoid Hypocrisie, and to manifest their Profession by their Lives; both to hear and to do what they hear, and to bring forth Fruits mete for Repentance; and to let their Light so shine before Men, that they may see their good Works, and glorifie their Fa­ther which is in Heaven. To be faithful un­to Death, and to hold out to the End; and to suffer for the testimony of Jesus, if God think fit to call them to it; and to do good, though they have no prospect of a present Recompence. To feed the Hungry, and cloath the Naked, and visit the Sick; and to hope, and to believe, that they shall be re­warded at the Resurrection of the Just.

These are the great Lessons we beg of men, that they would hearken to, these are the things, we would have them labour after, when we entreat them to turn, or to be con­verted unto God; and what are all these Performances, but Duties enjoin'd by our [Page 165] Lord and Master, upon pain of Damnation. He hath protested, that those who wilfully neglect these Laws, and do not think them­selves obliged to obey them, when yet they profess themselves to be his Disciples, shall find by woful experience, what it is to tread under foot the Son of God, and to turn a­way from him, that speaks from Heaven. He is unchangeably resolved, where Men make light of his invitation, and slight these rea­sonable terms of salvation, and entertain his Message with contempt, and neither repent of that contempt, nor testifie their repen­tance by tears, and sorrow, and reformation, and obedience for the future, to let them have that eternal misery, that unquenchable fire, whereby he thought to fright and wean them from their Lusts, and to drive them in­to Paradise, and which is so far from terri­fying of them, that they run into it most gree­dily, seem to invade those flames, and be in love with endless Agonies.

And now let any man in his wits judge, whether Coversion, in that sense we speak of it, both in publick and private, be not indis­pensably necessary? And whether Conside­ration how to be converted, fall not under the same necessity? Our Natures are not so very prone to goodness, that we may yield to these Laws, without examining, and think­ing [Page 166] what way we ought to take, to work our hearts into a holy willingness to submit; For its swimming against the stream, climb­ing up a Hill, running counter to our incli­nations, and therefore the Soul had need be season'd with thoughts of the admirable contrivance, goodness, profit, benefit, and ad­vantages of these Laws, and of the love and compassion of God that shines in them, and of the harmony, order, calmness, peace, and satisfaction Obedience causes, before we can conform our wills to his will, who is resolv'd that Dogs and Swine shall not enter into Heaven.

But what shall we say? when Men are re­solved to live like Swine, and will not be­lieve that God demands that holiness of them the Scripture speaks of, when they be­lieve God to be altogether such an one as they themselves, a friend to sin, and false in his threatnings, when they believe, that Dis­courses of Divines about Conversion, are no more but talk, a cast of their Office, and that themselves give no credit to the things, they preach to others, when they believe, that God denies them nothing, that their Nature prompts them to, and is pleas'd with their Frolicks, and Divertisements. When they believe, that the great end of their Creati­on, is to get Money; and that they have a [Page 167] Being given them in this world, to fill their Bellies with all the Dainties they can get; when they do not heartily believe a judg­ment to come, and look upon the flames of Tophet, but as painted Fire; when they take worldly Felicity for their Heaven, and wish there were no other Beatitude after this life, but Mahomet's Paradise. When they do so, we had as good tempt them to knock their heads against a wall, as persuade them into a serious Consideration of their wayes. With­out all peradventure, its worth considering, that God intends something by the aforesaid Precepts, and that they are not design'd for Beasts and irrational Creatures; that God doth not think so light of them, as we do; and hath a sense of Honour, and will not let a wilful contempt of things so sacred, and so venerable, go unpunish'd; that obedience makes men like unto God, and causes them in some measure to approach the Holiness of his Nature; that those certainly must be in a better condition, when they come to dye, who follow these Rules, than the other, that know no Laws, but the dictates of their own licentiousness; that these Laws enjoin no­thing, but what agrees with, and promotes the prosperity of Mankind; and that if we believe God to be jealous of his Glory, to obey these Laws, must in all probability [Page 168] be the most likely way to please him; that these Precepts do signally advance the digni­ty of Humane Nature, and shew the genero­sity and greatness of a Mans Soul, who dares live above the common level of Mankind; that to become subject to these Laws, is the safest course, and a Man can lose nothing considerable, by that subjection, if there were no other world; that all those that submit to these Laws, cannot be Fools, and if the wisest of Men close with these Injunctions, it must, to speak moderately, be very great im­prudence to laugh at them.

But where Conversion is thought a thing superfluous, no marvel if Consideration be look'd upon, as a task fit only for Men, who have nothing else to employ their time in. When People despise the House, they'll have no great value for the Porch. And when the end seems needless, they'll not trouble them­selves much about using the means that lead to it. And such persons we must leave to be convinced of the necessity of Conversion, by their punishment. Since Reason cannot persuade them, judgment must take away the vail from their eyes. What Exhortation cannot effect, Thunder must produce. What they will not believe upon the Word of God, they must be forc'd to give assent to, by the flames they shall ere long feel the rage [Page 169] and fury of; and God who could not be glorified in their Conversion, must glorifie himself in their everlasting confusion?

IX. Impediment.

IX. Mistaking the Nature of Considera­tion. As the way to life is but one, so the ways that lead to destruction are infinite, and without number. And such root doth a sin­ful life, if not check'd betimes, take in Men, that if they can but find the shadow of an excuse, they will not fail to lay hold of it, that they may not part with what they love so dearly. It's from hence, that all their lit­tle attempts to perform their duties, pass with them for the duties themselves, as if lifting up or moving a piece of Lead, were as much as carrying of it from one place to another. They would be angry with their servants, if demanded what work they have done, they should reply, that they have executed their Masters commands, when they have only touch'd the Plow with a finger, or play'd with it, to divert them, and take it very ill of a Waterman, that should ask money of them for carrying them to the place they in­tended for, if he should but give a stroke or two with his Oar, and so give over, and laugh at that person, that should pretend he [Page 170] hath made them a Fire, when he hath laid but two or three sticks together. The Folly they find fault with in others, they practise themselves, and while they attempt to take the Mote out of their Brothers eye, they are insensible of the Beam that is in their own; for thus, we find, they do proceed, when ex­horted to a serious Consideration of their ways; they take every sad thought of their spiritual Concerns for Consideration, and a rambling imagination of their danger, passes for contemplation of their spiritual wret­chedness.

Because now and then, when some loss, or afflictions befall them, a melancholy conceit steals into their minds, and when some great Man hath cast them off, or their Friends are displeas'd with them, they do slightly reflect on the never fading compassion of God, and cast a careless look on their sins, that may have deserved the trouble they are under, they give out, they consider the things that belong unto their peace, and if those flashes do not produce these effects in them, the Ho­ly Ghost expects, they are apt to charge Consideration with insufficiency, and cry out against it, as a means improper to produce that seriousness of life, which God requires of them, in order to everlasting happiness, wherein they appear to me like young and [Page 171] hasty Chymists, that are impatient, and will not let the Menstruum stand long enough, but would have the Experiment perfect, be­fore the matter be ripe for operation, and thus they come to miscarry.

To think how Men play the fool with Re­ligion, how aukwardly they go about it, and how silly the Apologies are, they make for this neglect, cannot but make a sober Man admire, how it's possible for them to sink in­to such simplicity, or fondness rather, to de­lude their own Souls. They know it is not a stroke, or two that will Fell a Tree, nor knocking twice or thrice, that will pull down a House, nor blowing slightly, that will make green Wood burn; and yet that they should be so sottish, so impertinent, so abominably careless in the greatest concern of their lives, and fancy, that a few careless thoughts now and then, will produce that circumspect life, God commands and urges, betrays so great a shallowness of reason, and is an act so weak, that I know not, how to give it a name dis­paraging, and low enough.

Alas! Consideration, as hath been hin­ted before, is a frequent reiterated lively representation of the danger of a sinful life; and SINNER, didst not thou go about it like a Man that is in jest, thou wouldst see, what wonders it doth cause. Didst thou set [Page 172] upon this thoughtful task in sober sadness, and if the first and second, and third Consi­deration, would not weaken the fortificati­ons, or strong holds of iniquity, assault them with fresh supplies of thoughts, and aggra­vate the sins thou wouldst be rid of, and [...] how often slighted convictions bor­der upon the sin against the Holy Ghost, and move God to swear in his wrath, that such men shall never enter into his rest, thou wouldst not find that relish in sin, which now thou dost; thou wouldst find it hath more of the Gall and Wormwood in it, than of the Honey. Thy sensual appetite would lose much of its heat, and fury, and thy pas­sions would be brought into a cooler temper. One great Error Men lie under, is this, That they consider the pleasures of sin more, than the benefits of a serious Religious life; and whatever hath most of my Consideration, must necessarily prevail most with me. Let but the Concerns of your Souls have more of your Contemplations, than the satisfactions of the flesh, and you'll see other effects.

But where Men suffer the sensual satisfacti­on, they have either felt, or heard of, to play upon their fancy, and to sport itself with their imagination, where they dandle the soft conceit, and call the smiling pleasure to mind oftner, than the real, and solid pleasures [Page 173] of Holiness; there the former cannot but get the better, and play the Sovereign, and rule the Soul, as will appear (to mention no more) from these two instances. Such a man is troubled with lascivious thoughts, and lust­ful desires; when the sinful thought shoots first into the mind, if he do presently call in Considerations of Gods prohibition, and an­ger, and of everlasting burnings, and set be­fore his eyes the fate of Sodom and Go­morra, the brevity and transitoriness of these fleshly satisfactions, the tears, the anguish, the grief it must cost him, if ever God should accept of him; the uncertainty of his life, the hazard he runs of being cut off, before he may have a heart to repent; the multitude and variety of sins, his Lusts will engage him in; the diseases and infirmities he may pro­cure; the unquietness of Conscience he shall pull down upon himself, &c. and resolve to enlarge upon these discouragements, and do it, as often as he finds his flesh grow unruly and troublesome, he'll certainly get the vi­ctory, and captivate his Lusts to the obedi­ence of Christ Jesus. But when these Con­siderations are call'd in onely for formalities sake, and that which gratifies his sickly pas­sions, suffer'd to be the chief Guest of his un­derstanding; when instead of Arguments a­gainst these Lusts, he layes out for Topicks▪ [Page 174] and Considerations, which may diminish and take off from the greatness of the sin, as, that God will not be angry for one sin; and that sure, God remembers how frail and weak his nature is, and that he doth not intend to al­low himself long in it, and that he would fain avoid it but cannot, and that the strength of his passion will excuse the heinousness of his crime, and that most men have had their frolicks in their younger dayes, &c. where he suffers the circumstances of his last nights Revelling to roul in his mind, how soft such embraces were, how kind the person was that lov'd him, how sweet her addresses were, how melting her smiles and favors, how plea­sing what she said and did, how merry the meeting was, how easie he was under those sensual raptures, how glad other persons would be to have such an opportunity as he had, how he was heighten'd by such a Cup, how elevated with that curious Drink, how that Liquor with the strange name dispos'd him for Caresses, how such an one applauded him for his wit, how taking that jest was, how delighted the company was with his Railery, &c. Where, I say, the mind dwells upon such light, and frothy conceptions, and what ever would dash them, is but shewn as it were to the mind, is not suffered to enter in, to take possession, beats only against the fan­cy, [Page 175] is not permitted to mingle with it, or if it enter, is quickly thrust out again, if it be allow'd a seat there, is soon dismiss'd, and turn'd away again; there certainly the man must continue a slave to his corruptions and passionate desires, and the Considerations which were to produce seriousness, and obe­dience in him, cannot but be ineffectual, be­cause they do not lie on long enough, as salt­ed meat will not lose much of its saltish taste, if but dipt in water, nor cloth imbibe a tincture, that is but sprinkled upon't.

Another receives a signal injury, the af­front he suffers, is great and notorious; on a sudden his passions are up, represent to his mind the sweetness of revenge, the dis­mal aspect of the indignity, the unsufferable­ness of the disgrace, the wayes and means how to compass the vindictive design, the shame that's thrown upon his honour, the baseness of the injury, the sordidness of the action, the ingratitude that's shewn in it, the uncivility the offender hath discover'd, the verdicts of his acquaintance, in case he doth not reward the offender according to his work, the blot that will be upon his Family for ever, the various advantages he formerly had against the wretch, which yet he scorn'd to take, &c. And while his mind is fill'd with these imaginations, it's possible, reflecti­ons [Page 176] on the folly of his anger, on the charity he owes to all Mankind, the example of Christ, and his Apostles, praying for their Persecutors, the generosity of pardoning an offence, and forbearing of revenge, when it lies in our power to be even with the offen­der; such thoughts as these, I say, may strike his mind, but if he suffer the motives to re­venge to lodge more quietly in his mind, than the motives to patience and forgive­ness, it's soon guessed which of these will be Conquerors. Let but his mind ruminate and enlarge more upon the great duty of for­bearing revenge, than upon the pleasure of taking revenge; and the thoughts which in­flamed his spirits, and made the blood boil in his veins will cool by degrees, and the motions of the flesh will give ground to those of the spirit.

The same may be said of all other sins, which he that names the Name of Christ is obliged to depart from; he that would be rid of them, must not let the transitory sa­tisfaction those sins afford, hover in his mind more, than the great worth of an immortal Soul; where the latter is made the most fre­quent-object of our thoughts, the other will dwindle away, and at last expire.

To make this appear, we need no other proof, but common experience; and though [Page 177] after a man hath ruminated on the odiousness of a darling bosome sin, he may fall into it again, yet the arguments, which make against it, and prompt him to part with it, being cal­led in again, and again, and laid on afresh, and as they wear out, or decay, renewed and strengthen'd with greater enforcives, it will be found, That he who sin'd with courage, and confidence before, begins now to sin with trembling, and reluctancy of mind, and at last is mov'd to bid an eternal farewell to it. The frequent thinking on these reasons, the renewed and reiterated contemplations of the horrid ingratitude against God, and of the shame and sorrow, the sin must end in, first weaken, and loosen the Tree, then break it, and at last do quite root it up, and de­stroy it.

X. Impediment.

X. Converse with evil Company. There is not certainly a greater encouragement to real holiness, than religious society, and good examples. That innocence, we see, makes deeper impressions on our hearts, than that we hear of, and our eyes afford greater mo­tives to imitation, than our ears. A Religi­ous Friend charms me into that Piety, he embraces, and his kindness instills his devo­tion [Page 178] into my Soul. I am apt to imbibe his principles of virtue, with his kind expressi­ons, and frequent converse, makes his good­ness as familiar to me as his person. The se­verest mortifications, if I see them perform'd by those, I love, lose much of their rigor, and dismal aspect, and become amiable, and as un­pleasing a thing, as Self-denial is, it looks more easie, and facil, when he I am intimate­ly acquainted withall, shews me, that it is practicable.

There is no sense works upon the affecti­ons, like that of sight, it makes the object live in the understanding, and from thence the will and affections are sollicited into em­braces of it. This was the reason, why the Christians of old, when they would in sober sadness apply themselves to a truly Christian life, retired into Desarts, where some devout Hermits had their Cells, that by looking on their exemplary devotion, they might be tempted into a chearful imitation of their goodness.

And as it is with Religious Society, it both makes the task of the greater and weightier matters of the Law less difficult, and kindles desires in our breasts to follow so excellent a pattern, so evil company on the other side doth as much discourage men from performances, as are somewhat trouble­som [Page 179] to flesh and blood, and hereof Conside­ration of their wayes, is not the least. This implies some self-denial, and the sound of the words imports making War with the soft, and sickly desires of their flesh, and having wrought their own hearts into a detestation of this duty, they fright others from it, as from some Medusa's head, which will certain­ly turn them into stones, or insensible crea­tures; they care not for sincere devotion themselves, and would not have others live stricter and preciser than their Neighbors; they have a low esteem of the wayes of God, and would not have others prize them at a higher rate. They delight in sensual sa­tisfactions, and look upon other mens dis­courses concerning spiritual delight, as Non­sence. They are averse from subjecting them­selves to the Will of God, and would have others as disobedient as themselves. They think, it was a far better World, when there was not so much Praying, and Preaching as there is now, and would have others slight Christs invitation to the Supper of the Lamb, as much as themselves.

He that makes such his familiars, and looks upon them as discreet and rational men, must necessarily continue a stranger to Considera­tion of his spiritual and everlasting Con­cerns; for as they are no admirers of dis­courses, [Page 180] which may advance the welfare of a Soul, and seldom take the Name of God in their mouths, except it be in their Oaths and Curses; so to be sure, they'll tell very dismal, and doleful stories of Religion upon all occasions, and represent the severer per­formances of Piety in such an antick dress, that he, who prizes their company or ac­quaintance, shall applaud their invention, admire them for their witty conceits, and de­spise all serious thoughts concerning things of everlasting consequence.

The Age we live in hath taught the world, to vend Profaness under the name of Wit, and to contemn Religion under the Mantle of Repartee, and quickness of fancy; and he that loves to be with these beaux Esprits, will, in all probability, learn to be as care­less, and as secure as they. Evil company, where a man delights in it, will infect him do what he can; it he have any good in him, they'll waste, and consume it; if he be desti­tute of virtuous Principles, they'll keep out all Considerations, as shall either discompose him in his folly, or shed resolutions into his Soul to come away, and seek a better King­dom; insomuch, that it may be truly said of such a man, as of him in the Gospel, who Travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho, That he is fallen among robbers, who strip him of all, and leave him miserable, Luc. 10.30.

[Page 181]Evil Companions are the Devils Agents, whom he sends abroad into the world to de­bauch Virtue, and to advance his Kingdom; these are his Factors, and by these he draws men into eternal darkness. By these he pecks up all the good seed, that's sown in us, and in­fuses bad qualities into our better part. These laugh men into destruction, and damn them in kindness. These fawn men into misery, and tickle them into an eternity of torments. These turn Religion into Jests, and make the Precepts of the Gospel, matter for Raillery. These are true Devils, that delight in the murther of Souls, and sinking into the bot­tomless Pit, pull down their Adherents with them.

And what likelihood is there, That a man should consider the interest of his Soul, that consorts with persons, who do as much as lies in them, depretiate the value of it, and strive to put all serious contemplations out of his head? What probability, that a man should sit down, and set before him the terror of the Lord, and be transformed by the renewing of his mind, who when the Holy Ghost exhorts him to prove what is the holy, acceptable, and perfect Will of God, to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, to rejoyce in hope, to be patient in tribulation, to continue in­stant in prayer, to bless them, which persecute [Page 182] him, Rom. 12.2, 11. gets presently after into company, where all those Lessons are deri­ded, where the contrary Vices are commend­ed, where Consideration, how to be Master of these Graces, is exploded, as a thing fit only for Almsmen, and Hospital Boyes, where these serious Exhortations are drown'd in laugh­ter, and such things suggested, as render a man wise onely for the world, and for the flesh, and make him sagacious, how to grati­fie his head-strong passions, and inordinate affections?

He that considers his wayes, and yet fre­quents such Society, imitates a foolish Gar­dener, that after he hath sown his Seed, and sees it come up, lets in Hogs to devour, and tear it away. Consideration (as I shall prove in the Sequele) requires separation; and when God calls, Come out of Babylon, O my people; it is not only, that they may not participate of their punishment, but that they may not share in their sin, and conse­quently, that they may be at leisure to con­sider how to prevent, and avoid both.

I do not deny, but men may deal and traf­fick with men of a loose Conversation, and not lose their seriousness, nor be discouraged from a holy preparation for a better life; but there is a great difference between Travel­ling through Aethiopia, and dwelling there; [Page 183] the former may not change the complexion, but the latter will infallibly do it. I wrote unto you in an Epistle, not to company with Fornicators, yet not altogether with the For­nicators of this world, or with the Covetous, or Extortioners, or with Idolaters, for then you must needs go out of the world; but now I have written to you, not to keep company; if any man, that is call'd a Brother, be a Fornica­tor, or Covetous, or an Idolater, or a Railer, or a Drunkard, or an Extortioner, with such an one, not to eat, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 5.9, 10, 11. It's one thing to converse with a man, as with a Stranger, another to converse with him, as with a Brother; one thing to pay the duty of Civility to him, another to admit him into the number of my Friends; one thing to be necessitated to discourse with him, another to delight in it; one thing to go into such company with cautiousness, and circumspection, another to rush into it with­out fear, or wit: the former doth not im­port a necessity of pollution, the other makes the infection inevitable.

Society in sin strangely takes off from the heinousness of it; it makes the sin appear with a fainter red; it doth not look so dread­ful, when men have companions in their offences; they think, there is some com­fort in having Associates in misery, and [Page 184] dare to sin more freely, when the are not alone in the transgression. They are afraid, their single Valor will never be able to dwell Gods wrath, and indignation, but having others join'd with them, they may make a shift to weather out the tempest of his anger. They hope God will not damn a multitude of poor creatures together, and fancy the great number of sinners may fright the Almighty into compassion; if they suf­fer, they think, they shall not fare worse, than their Neighbors; and if they smart for their Rebellion, they shall be able to bear it, as well as their Confederates in the ini­quity.

Ill example draws out the inward corrup­tion into action, and the inbred evil concu­piscence may be, would lie quiet, or dye, if such patterns did not put it into fermenta­tion. Many Children would be modest, did not their Parents behavior seduce them into love of their Vices. Some servants have in­genuity in them, and durst not venture so far into sin, as they do, did not their Masters ex­ample encourage them. Adam sins for com­panies sake, and it's like would have continu­ed stedfast in his innocence, if he had not seen the Woman eat of the forbidden Tree, and been sollicited to imitate her desperate enterprize. The Israelites being mingled [Page 185] among the Heathen, learn their works; and having convers'd long with the Egyptians, who were great worshippers of Oxen, erect a Calf in the wilderness of Sina. Joseph comes to be familiarly acquainted with Pharaoh's Courtier, and an Oath, By the Life of Pha­raoh, goes down with him without bogling, or reluctancy. Lot had lived among men, who made nothing of the vilest uncleannes­ses imaginable, and soon after consents to an incestuous Copulation. Solomon by his in­timacy with his Concubines, learns to wor­ship Devils, and his son Rehoboam, by ma­king the young Gallants at Court his Fami­liars, grows rash, even to his own destructi­on. Had not Peter gone into the High Priests Hall, it's like he would never have been persuaded into Cursings, and Impreca­tions. Converse with Drunkards, by degrees causes approbation of the sin, and at last de­light in it. And thus it must needs be in the case before us. Inconsiderate men, make others as supine, and negligent as themselves; and he that lets his acquaintance with them, grow into familiarity, will be apt to think, that sure he may neglect Consideration of his wayes, as well as they, if they venture, why may not he? And if they think not the omission prejudicial to their spiritual interest, why should he terrifie himself with counter­feit [Page 186] thunder? If they hope to do well after all this, why may not he? And if they fear no revenging Arm, why should he make his Life miserable, by thinking of punish­ment?

Imprudent men indeed! you may have seen others hang, or drown, or burn them­selves, but is this a Temptation to you to fol­low them? Because such a man ruines him­self and his Family, have you a mind to do so too? Because such a one doth not mind his Trade, but lies in Ale-houses and Taverns, must you necessarily make him your pattern? Because such a man disregards the favor of his Friends, that are both able and willing to assist him, is that an argument, that you must learn his wayes? Because such a one lets his Garden run to Weeds, must you therefore fill yours with Bryars and Thorns? Because such a one imbezles his Estate, must you therefore spend yours in riotous living? And will you storm the gates of Hell, because others are so desperate, as to do it? Will you howl with Devils, because others delight in that Musick? Will you scorn the offers of salvation, because others will not be drawn by cords of Love? Will you run the hazard of losing the light of Gods countenance for ever, because others know not, how to prize it?

[Page 187]O my Soul, be not thou tempted by these weak Arguments, follow not a multitude to do evil. Let not the way that leads to de­struction invite thee, because many there be that find it; Company, whatever refresh­ment it may be in Chains, or Prisons here, can afford but little consolation in eternal flames. Company there, will rather increase Mens Sorrows, and Society heighten their Woes and Torments, in that one will not be able to help the other; and the shreeks of him that was seduced into sin, will but ag­gravate the groans and anguish of the Sedu­cer, when he must remember, that he was that Devil, that drag'd the other into endless tor­tures. Strive, strive, O my Soul, to walk in the strait way. Let not the small number of Travellers fright thee; it's the likelier way to Heaven, because the great, the mighty, the wise men of this world, will not stoop to this narrow Gate; for Gods wayes, are not our wayes; nor are his thoughts, as our thoughts; what the world admires, he de­spises; and what sensual Men make light of, he crowns with glory and splendor, and im­mortality: so thou canst but be saved, no matter, how small the number is of those that arrive to happiness. As small as it is, to these belongs the promise, Fear not thou lit­tle Flock, for it is your Fathers good plea­sure [Page 188] to give you the Kingdom of Heaven, Luke 12.32.

XI. Impediment.

XI. Neglect of consulting with the Mini­sters of the Gospel about this necessary work. It was Gods command of old, The Priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth, for he is the Mes­senger of the Lord of Hosts, Mat. 2.7. How mean soever the Age, we live in, thinks of this Function of Men, as if they were need­less Members of a Commonwealth, yet there was never any Nation so barbarous, bur af­ter they were Civiliz'd into Societies and Government, judged these Men most useful, and most necessary, for the preservation of their Commonwealth, for Kingdom. And indeed the great eternal God, ever since he hath vouchsafed to plant a Church in the world, hath been pleas'd to make it one great character, and mark of his favor and bounty to Her, to give Her Teachers and Prophets, and Evangelists. And the Com­mission he hath granted these Men, the Ti­tles, and the Honours he hath confer'd on them, and Love, and Reverence he hath commanded all Men to express towards them, evidently declare, That they are Am­bassadors [Page 189] of the great King of Heaven, which in Christs stead, beseech men to be reconci­led unto God; and that he that receives the Word, they deliver from the mouth of God, receives him that sent them.

In these Gospel-dayes it's true, there is shed abroad a larger measure of Gods Spirit, than was formerly known under the Jewish Oeconomy, and men under the New Cove­nant are promis'd to be taught of the Lord. They shall not teach every man his Neighbor, and every man his Brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest, Hebr. 8.11. yet that doth not make this function of men needless, but enforces rather the absolute, and indispensable neces­sity of their office, and authority. For be­sides, that this promise doth eminently relate to the Primitive Christians, who were made partakers of the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost, and had their knowledge and learning from above, thereby to fit them the better for the propagation of a new Reli­gion; if we suppose, that the Prophecy must extend to all, that profess themselves Christi­ans, the meaning of it can be no more, but this, that God will use a more gentle way in converting men under the Gospel, and in that Conversion, or inclining their hearts to his commands, give such lively representati­ons [Page 190] of the reasonableness of them, and so convince them of their agreeableness to the Law of nature, or the Law written in their hearts, that they shall not need to be put in mind by their Neighbors of their justice, and equity, and spirituality.

But then this gracious promise doth not exclude, but presupposes still, the means of Conversion, of which the Ministry of the Word, is not the least; and if the Ministry of the Word be intended as a standing Or­dinance, in order to those kindly operations of Gods Spirit, in the heart of those that shall be converted; and God be perempto­rily resolv'd by the preaching of the Word to work on the Souls of men, none hath rea­son to find fault with the contrivance of the Almighty, but rather to admire his wisdom and goodness, that shines through this dispen­sation; not to mention, that as God under the Gospel obliges men to greater knowledge than formerly, so it's fit, there should be men eminent for knowledge and piety to instruct others, and who like Candles set on a Candle­stick, may light the rest, and by the Vrim and Thummim, of their doctrine, and purity, lead them, and encourage them to prepare for Heaven. And if notwithstanding the prodigious gifts of the Holy Ghost poured out in the primitive Times upon all flesh, [Page 191] God thought it necessary to give Apostles, and Teachers, and Pastors, when the illapses of the Spirit could teach men, what their Pa­stors were to teach them; how much more necessary may we think, must the Ministry be now, when those extraordinary gifts have ceas'd, and the generality of men are sunk into monstrous ignorance, inconsiderateness, and stupidity.

Indeed these are the men, whom God hath plac'd in the Church, to direct others in the way to salvation; these are the men with whom the ignorant are to consult, what they must do to be happy for ever: And as upon a wrong information given by the Teacher, God is resolv'd to require the seduced parties blood at his hand; so no man, that hath a tongue in his head to enquire, can with any justice excuse himself from enquiring of these men what it is, that the Lord his God re­quires of him. And were this method fol­low'd in the case before us, and did men se­riously demand of them, which way to com­pass an effectual Consideration of their Soul-concerns, here they might be inform'd, and instructed, and undeceiv'd in the errors of their wayes.

The truth is, some are so civil, as to send for us, when the breath is going out of their body, and give us leave to come and teach [Page 192] them, what they must do to be sav'd, when the Physitian gives them over, and they ready to be summon'd to appear before the great Tribunal; they are contented, we should give them an Epitome of their Du­ties, when they are past working in Gods Vineyard; and furnish their minds with thoughts of Heaven and Eternity, when their understandings are as weak, as their bodies; and their inward man, as languid, and feeble as their outward. But there needs no great store of Arguments, to convince any ratio­nal man, That this is meer mocking of God, and his Messengers. It's a sign, they have a pitiful low esteem of another world, who think Heaven worth no more, than a feeble thought, when they can serve the Devil and sin no longer. It's a sign, they look upon eternal glory, as some poor, beggarly happi­ness, who cannot vouchsafe it a serious look, till their eyes grow dim, and the Sun, and the Moon, and the Light, and the Stars are dark­ned, Eccl. 12.2.

Would they but send for us, or come to us, while marrow is in their bones, and blood brisk, and lively in their veins, their reason strong, and their understanding in its full vigor and glory, and advise with us about these everlasting things, we would then tell them, what eternal life means, and how no [Page 193] man can be a man, or be said to act with common prudence, that doth not with all diligence make his Calling, and Election sure, we would then let them see, how many thou­sands perish for want of thinking of Eterni­ty. We would let them see, how miserable those mens condition must needs be, who have their portion in this life, who after this life, must look for nothing else, but everlast­ing chains of darkness. We would prove to them, that these are not things to be laught at, but deserve their most serious contempla­tions, and that the saving of a Soul is not so light a thing, as they may imagine. We would let them see, that the pious Kings and Prin­ces, and Philosophers, Confessors and Saints, and Martyrs of old, whose memories we adore, were no Fools, when they kept un­der their Bodies, and brought them into sub­jection, lest they should become Castawayes; when they look'd upon all the losses, and troubles, and miseries, that could befall them for Righteousness sake, as things, not worthy to be compared, with the glory, which ere long should be revealed in them, when they did not count their own Lives dear, for the Gospel of Christ, and were ready to pass through the most daring flames to Heaven. We would let them see, that those men had brains, and were men of wisdom, and dis­cretion, [Page 194] as well as they, and living so near the time of Christ and his Apostles, could not possibly be ignorant of what was to be done in order to everlasting happiness; and if they had not been very confident of the truth of Christs promises, and known for certain, that without strictness, and contempt of the World, and watching against Tem­ptations, there was no entring into their Ma­sters joy, they would never have striven so much to enter in at the strait gate, as they did.

We would let them see, how different mens thoughts are when they come to dye, from those which they have while they enjoy strength and health, and liberty; and that a melancholy thought now and then concern­ing their sinful life, is not repentance, nor leaving such sins, which would blemish their credit and reputation in the World, doing whatsoever Christ commands them; nor talking now and then of the vanity of the World, using the World, as if they used it not. We would let them see, what the Scri­pture means, by working out their salvation with fear, and with trembling; and how dreadful that saying is, If the righteous be scarcely saved, where will the wicked, and sin­ner appear? We would let them see, That the expressions, the Holy Ghost uses concern­ing [Page 195] our Travelling to the Land of Promise, imply very great care, and industry, and do plainly intimate, that God will not part with his Heaven to men, that do not think it worth seeking, or being at any trouble about it. We would let them see, that if any thing in the World deserves their pains, and care, Heaven deserves it infinitely more, as it is of infinitely greater consequence, than the most boundless Empires, or Princi­palities. We would let them see, that God is no respecter of persons; and that, as he hath fitted Religion for all mens capacities, insomuch, that though all cannot be wise, or learned, or great, or rich, yet all may obey him, and keep themselves unspotted from the World, so he will one day summon every man to give an account of his stewardship, and bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good, or evil. We would let them see, that what satisfies men now, will not give them any great content, or satisfaction then; and though now some sprinklings of Piety may lull them into good conceits of themselves, and of their worth, yet these like blown Balls, will then be all upon the least touch shatter'd into Atoms.

By such discourses as these, we might by degrees engage them to a serious Considera­tion of their spiritual Concerns, and warm [Page 196] them into resolutions, to lay by for some time their Farms, and Oxen, and ruminate on things which carry so much Terror and Ma­jesty with them. And indeed such things, were they heard without prejudice, they would in some measure confound and startle men in their courses; and if they are not given over to a hard heart, or to a reprobate mind, rouze their spirits into nobler thoughts and contemplations.

But alas! they shun our company, except it be to talk of worldly affairs, or to ask us about some nice Points of Divinity, and are ashamed to make their condition known, and to own themselves ignorant of the path, that leads to glory. They either excuse themselves with this, that their Neighbors, and their Friends, will laugh at them, for making Mi­nisters their Oracles; or plead, that they know as much as the Man of God can teach them; would God, they did! and that all the Lords People were Prophets. But if they did, is there not some difference be­tween knowing these sacred Truths, and ha­ving them set home upon the Conscience? That shall stick in a familiar discourse, which in reading we take no notice of; and a word in private conference, may drop from a holy man, and may be spoke with that zeal and honesty, as shall strike the Soul into a change, [Page 197] or renovation of mind, which perhaps many years study, or a large stock of knowledge would not have effected: so that if the question be ask'd, Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no Physitian there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people re­cover'd? We may truly say, We would have healed Israel, but they would not be healed.

XII Impediment.

XII. Deluding themselves with the notion of Christs dying for the Sins of the World. Why should they consider, how to be rid of Sin, and lay the pleasures of Holiness before their eyes? Why should they torment them­selves with thinking, how Gods favor may be purchas'd, and involve themselves in anxiety and trouble about their transgressi­ons? When Christ hath done all that is to be done, appeas'd his Fathers wrath against the lapsed Progeny of Adam, and purchas'd them a glorious freedom from the slavery of a severe Law. If he hath satisfied God for the injuries he received by any sins, why should they make a new satisfaction by holi­ness of their Lives? Is not that it, which all Pulpits ring of, That the Eternal dyed, that we might not dye eternally; and that God would suffer, that we might escape Torments [Page 198] for ever? That Christ would be Crown'd with Thorns, that we might have an incor­ruptible Crown of glory hereafter; And that he endure'd Reproach, and Calumnies, and Contradictions of Sinners against him­self, that we might inherit everlasting Ho­nour? And why should they disparage Christs sufferings so much, as hope to gain Heaven by mortification of their Lusts, and poring upon their sin and misery? This would be to undervalue so great a blessing, and to tell the world, that Christ's purchase of eternal glory for us, was imperfect, and without there be an addition of our own works and merits, that redemption signifies little, and hath not strength enough to pass, what was design'd by it?

Thus men prevent Consideration of their spiritual Concerns, and dash the checks and motions of their Consciences, when prompt­ed to call their wayes to remembrance. They examine not the end of Christs death, nor their own obligations. They run away with the notion, that Christ dyed for them, and are not at all careful to know, what his death signifies, much like heedless servants, who be­fore they have half their errand, run away, and when they come to the place they are sent to, know not, what message to deliver. The Doctrine is pleasing to their flesh, and [Page 199] that they may not lose that pleasure, they'll be sure not to enquire, what the true mean­ing of it is.

Would they but cast their eyes upon that Bible, which they believe contains the Ora­cles of Heaven, they would find, that the great reason, why Christ gave himself for us, was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to puri­fie unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. 2. 14. They would find, St Paul was of another mind, when he wrote to the Romans, In that Christ dyed, he dyed unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God: likewise reckon ye also your selves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord; let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield your selves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members, as instruments of righteousness unto God, Rom. 6.10, 11, 12, 13. And that the Apostle is constant to himself, appears from 2 Cor. 6.15. Christ dyed for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him, which dyed for them, and rose again.

And indeed, this is no more, but common gratitude; so great, a mercy challenges no less than Reformation, and Obedience. Do [Page 200] men gather Grapes of Thorns, or Figs of Thi­stles? He that redeems another from Barba­rian slavery, doth it so much as enter into his thoughts, that the Wretch can ever be so in­humane, as to despise, and scorn, and vilifie so great a Benefactor? That God could have given man access to his favor, and reconci­liation, some nearer way, than through the Cross and Death of Christ, is very probable; but it seems he would not. This remedy was his choice, he would pitch upon this stu­pendious way, to amaze, and to astonish men into holiness and seriousness. He thought men could not possibly avoid being Con­verts, and heavenly-minded, when they should see the Son of God wading through blood and death, to rescue them from Hell. God look'd upon the mercy to be so dread­ful, and the kindness to be so full of majesty, and compassion together, that he thought the incomprehensibleness of the favor would carry terror with it, and fright men into re­pentance, and contrition.

He thought, men would have so much sense and modesty in them, as not to rush through agonies, and, torments, and groans, and sobs, and sighs, and tears, and wounds, and stripes of the Son of God into eternal destruction. He thought those Thorns, and Nails that wounded that sacred Head, would [Page 201] scratch, and sting them into awe and reve­rence of so great a love, as they were rolling to eternal flames. He thought they must divest themselves of all Humanity, and Self-love, if under the Cross of Christ they could work out their own damnation, and make the streams of that blood, a River to carry them into eternal darkness.

But thou hast seen, O God, and beholdest, and canst not but behold it with sorrow, and indignation, how these men that pretend to be Christians, live the reverse of thy de­signs! How they improve the Cross of Christ, into affronts of thy power and glo­ry! How under that Tree of Life, they work out their own death; and how that precious Blood doth but encourage them to bid defi­ance to Heaven, and the sweat, and toyle of the Son of God, under the burthen of their sins, makes them sweat, and toyle, to fall a Prey to the merciless Clutches of the Devil!

God indeed reconcil'd the World unto himself, and Christ by his death, purchas'd that reconciliation, and eternal life, but there is a great difference between the purchase of these blessings, and the application of them, between the possibility of possessing, and the actual enjoyment of them. A man may buy an estate, and intend it for the use of such [Page 202] and such persons; but when he hath bought it for them, may lawfully tye them up to cer­tain conditions, upon which they shall en­joy the estate, or in case of neglect of these conditions, go without it. A King that's justly offended with his Subjects, and for their notorious Rebellion, hath design'd them all for ruine and destruction, upon some noble attempt, and generous enterprize of his onely Son, the Prince, may be mov'd, or brought to a willingness to pass by their crimes; but when the Kings good will is obtain'd, the Prince may justly appoint some condition upon which the condemn'd Wretches shall receive their great Masters favour. And as upon the Kings good incli­nation to be friends with his Subjects, it doth not follow, that he is actually reconcil'd to every one, there being some conditions re­quired, upon which the Pardon shall be sign'd and sealed to every one of them in par­ticular; so neither do all men effectually share in that reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, but those that turn to God with all their hearts, and with all their souls, and are weary of sin, and heavy laden with the sense of it, and in sober sadness resolv'd to submit to Christs yoke, and government; for though all mankind share in the possibility of enjoying this reconciliation, and the Par­don [Page 203] may be truly said to be purchas'd for them, and for their use, yet all are not made partakers of the actual possession of it, be­cause all men will not consent to fulfill the conditions upon which that reconciliation is offer'd them, viz. unfeign'd repentance, and sincere obedience for the time to come.

Shimei was a man condemn'd to death, 1 Kings 2.36. it's like some Courtiers of Solomon got him his Pardon, the King grants it, but requires this one thing of him, that he shall build him a house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither; and fulfilling this condition, with­out all peradventure, he might have liv'd happy, and safe, as the best of his Neighbors; but when he must needs be running after his servants, and prefer a small advantage before perpetual safety, he justly suffers the punish­ment the King appointed for him. The Son of God by the blood of his Cross, hath in truth gotten all Christians their Pardon, but is resolv'd none shall enjoy it, but those, that will forsake their sins, and resign themselves to his guidance and direction. A reasonable demand, a condition so equitable, so just, so easie, that no man in his wits but must say, as Shimei unto Solomon, The saying is good, As my Lord the King hath said, so will thy ser­vant do. But then, if the Pardon, the Son [Page 204] of God hath obtain'd for them, appear so inconsiderable a thing in their eyes, that they do not think it worth enjoying, (and cer­tainly they do not think it worth enjoying, that will not agree to so reasonable a condi­tion) no marvel, if they fall a prey to that wrath, from which the Son of God is ready to deliver them; and if their blood be upon their heads, that do despight unto the Spirit of Grace, and count the blood of the Covenant wherewith they were to be sanctified, an unholy thing. So that, although a true Believer, and a sincere Penitent, may boldly say with the Apostle, That Christ hath redeem'd him from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for him, Gal. 3.13. And that ChriSt hath wash'd him from his sins with his own blood, Rev. 1.5. And that he hath an Advocate with the Fa­ther, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the pro­pitiation for his sins, 1 John 2.1. And that Chris't hath made his peace with God, Col. 1.20. Yet men that are strangers to the sanctifying work of Gods Spirit, cannot be said to have at present, during their unregenerate estate, any other benefit by the death and passion of Christ, but a possibility of all those great, and glorious advantages, and it's possible for them to be freed from the Curse of the Law, to be admitted into the number of those, that shall be sav'd; to enjoy remission of sins, [Page 205] to escape the wrath to come, and to see God face to face in Heaven, and all this by virtue of Christ's death; if they will but shake hands, with their darling Vices, and agree to a practical love of their Maker, and Redeem­er, and Sanctifier. To think that unconvert­ed sinners do actually enjoy these benefits, is to contradict Scripture, and to give the Apo­stles of our Lord the Lye, who unanimously tells us, That these mercies are not effectually apply'd to the Soul, till the Soul by sincere repentance, and reformation of life, applies herself to Christ Jesus.

And indeed, this is the prodigious mercy of the second Covenant, that God, for Christ's sake, will accept of sincere repentance, in stead of perfect obedience, (which was the great condition of the first agreement be­tween God and man) and looking upon the precious blood of his Son, will pass by whatever Men have done before, if they will be in love with sin and destruction no longer, and sincerely endeavor to please him in those commands, which design nothing but our interest and happiness.

These things are not very hard to be un­derstood, but the generality of Christians, seem resolv'd not to understand them, that they may not be obliged to take their ways into serious Consideration. This Doctrine, [Page 206] That Christ hath freed them from the wrath of God, in their sense, makes Religion sit soft and easie upon them, and doth not di­sturb them in their sensual enjoyments. It's a comfortable Doctrine to flesh and blood, never could any thing have been invented more agreeable to their Lusts; and if God had studied to do them a kindness, he could not have done them a greater, than to let his Son suffer all that is to be suffer'd by them, and so after their delights, and sinful satisfactions here, conduct them into a far more glorious Paradise. If it be so, truly Consideration is Vanity, and the Preachers are Fools and mad Men to press it upon their Auditors. But who sees not that this is an invention of the Devil, first to darken the sinners understanding, and when the Candle is out, to rob him of his everlasting happi­ness!

And Sirs, will you be rob'd thus quietly of your bliss and glory? Will you suffer yourselves to be stript of all you have, with­out the least opposition? Is it possible for you to believe, That the Son of God came down from Heaven, to encourage you in of­fending God; and made himself of no repu­tation for you, that you might render your selves contemptible in the sight of the Al­mighty; and dyed for you, to give life to [Page 207] your sins, and follies? How absurd, how im­pertinent, how contradictory is this Belief? Love God, and encourage sin? Holiness itself, and find out a way, to promote iniquity? Can there be any thing in Nature more silly, or ri­diculous? This is abusing the Cross of Christ, not trusting to it; and you that make it an occasion of sin, take heed, it do not prove a stumbling block unto you; and instead of Crucifying sin in you, do not harden you in it. It is a thing not unusual with God, to punish sin, with sin; and if Men will be fil­thy, in despite of all endeavors to purifie them from their filthinesses, to doom them to continue filthy still, and to make that their judgment, which at first was only their trans­gression; so great a love, and written in such legible characters too, slighted, and abused, and made a help to sin, improved into licen­tiousness, may justly be supposed to draw down that judgment we read of, Isa. 6.9, 10. Go and tell this People; Hear ye indeed, but understand not: and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this People fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and con­vert, and be healed.

But what is worse than all this, the death of the Son of God, which thus instead of [Page 208] mortifying, makes sin reign in your mortal bodies, will be the greatest witness against you in the last day. The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer against the oppressor, saith the Prophet, Hab. 2.11. And then sure blood hath a lou­der voice, the blood of a crucified Saviour, Hebr. 12.24. will be one day the greatest evidence against you. This, like oyl, will increase your flames, and prove the brim­stone, that shall make the fire blaze the more. That Jesus, whose Cross thou despisest now, will be thy Accuser then, and woe to that man, that hath the Judge himself for his ene­my. That dreadful spectacle, the Crucifixion of the Lord of Life, which cannot engage thy Soul to consider, and look upon him, whom thou hast pierc'd, will be the great Argument then, that shall cover thy face with everlasting confusion. When thou shalt see in that day, the spirits of men made perfect, the men in white, who have wash'd their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; when thou shalt reflect on their happiness, a happiness which thou mightst have had, as well as they, (if that blood could have persuaded thee to cleanse thy self from all filthiness both of flesh and spi­rit) how will thine eyes flow with tears, to think, what strong delusions thou hast lay'n [Page 209] under, in thinking, that this blood was on­ly spilt, that thou mightest wallow more freely in the mire. The Lamb which was slain from the foundation of the world, and came to take away thy sins, as well, as thy Neighbors, only thou wouldst not be clean. That Lamb, I say, as harmless, as its looks are now, will then change his aspect; and thou, that now thinkst, a Lamb can be nothing but kind, wilt then find by woful experience, that there is such a thing, as the indignation, and wrath of the Lamb.

CHAP. V Of the various Mischief's arising from Neglect of Consideration. The want of it prov'd to be the Cause of most Sins. Some Instances are giuen in Atheism, Vnbelief, Swearing, Pride, Carelesness in Gods Service, Luke­warmness, Couetousness, &c.

FRom what hath been said, we may safely draw this Conclusion, That want of Consideration is the unhappy spring, from which most of the miseries, and calamities of Mankind flow. Indeed God, Isa. 5.12, 13. makes this the great reason, Why his people were gone into Captiuity, why their honourable men were famish'd, and their multitude dryed up with thirst; why Hell had enlarged herself, and open'd her mouth without measure, and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp descended into it. It's the want of it, which in all Ages hath procur'd Gods judgments, which by Consideration might have been stopt, and prevented. Had Adam improv'd his solitariness in the Garden of Eden, into serious Consideration of the Nature of the Precept his Master gave him, and reflected on the wisdom of the Supreme Law-giver, [Page 211] that made it, on the immense bounty, his great Benefactor had crown'd him withall, on the abominable ingratitude he would make himself guilty of, by breaking so reasonable an Injunction. Had he but recollected him­self, (when tempted to eat of the dangerous fruit, under a pretence, that it would open his eyes, and make him wise, as God) and thought, that the Creator of Heaven and Earth knew best, what degree of wisdom, and knowledge, became a creature of his quality, and condition; and that he that was all love, and beauty, and kindness, would not have interdicted him that fruit, if the food might have any way advanc'd his hap­piness, and that therefore there must be some cheat in the Temptation; That the Angels which were lately thrown down from their glory, could not but envy the felicity he en­joyed, and for that reason would appear in all manner of shapes, and try a thousand wayes, to weaken the favor of God towards him; and that it was without all peradven­ture the safest way to prefer an express com­mand, before an uncertain suggestion. Had his mind taken a view of such Arguments, as these, & of the uninterrupted prosperity, and immortality, he was promis'd upon his obe­dience; it's not the Charms, or Rhetorick, or soft language of a Wife, nor the subtilty of [Page 212] a Serpent, nor the pretended Omniscience the Devil flatter'd him withall, would have made him leave that happy state, which the infinite goodness of Heaven had plac'd him in. But while he suffers the pleasure of a Garden to transport his Soul, and to blind it, fears no ill, no mischief, no danger among the Roses, and Flowers of Paradice, embraces the deceitful suggestion, without examining the cause, the manner, or the end of it, swal­lows the fatal bait without chewing, believes a Wife, and a Beast, without considering the consequence of the fact, and inquires not how God may resent his curiosity, he falls in­to death and misery, and drags all his Po­sterity after him.

Had the Inhabitants of Sodom, and Go­morrah, reflected like rational Men on the Reproofs, and Admonitions of righteous Lot, consider'd the kindness of the Almighty, in sending them such a Preacher, and thought with themselves, That sure it could not be the Preachers interest, to set himself against their Vices; That except Conscience, and a Divine Commission had prompted him to attempt their Reformation, it was not pro­bable, he would enrage a debauched City against himself, and make himself obnoxious to the fury of the People; That the righte­ous Man spake nothing but reason, and [Page 213] sought nothing but their good; That Gods patience, would certainly be tired ere long, and his long-suffering turn into vengeance; That the fire of their Lust, would shortly pull down other fire; and the heat of their unclean desires, break into more consuming flames; That God would not alwayes put up affronts, nor suffer his methods to reclaim them, to be baffled everlastingly; That they could not hope to escape Gods indignation, no more than the men of the first world; and when their sins were equal, Gods judgments would overtake them, as well as they did their Brethren; That God could intend them no harm, by calling them to Repentance; and being the great Preserver of Men, could not but design their interest and happiness.

Had they suffered their thoughts to dwell on such truths as these, made such Conside­rations familiar to their Souls, they would have melted and humbled themselves, and kept back that fire and brimstone, which af­terwards consumed them. Want of Consi­deration made them secure in sin, and that se­curity prepared for their devastation.

Indeed there is no sin almost, but is com­mitted for want of Consideration. Men con­sider not what sin is, nor how loathsom it is to that God, who carries them on his wings, as the Eagle doth her young, nor what inju­ry [Page 214] they do to their own Souls, nor what the dreadful effects and consequences of it are, and that makes them supine and negligent of their duty.

To give a few instances: Did the Atheist but look up to Heaven; Did his swinish and brutish appetite, but give him leave to con­template that glorious Fabrick, the orderly Position of the Stars, the regular Motion of those Celestial Lamps, and the Mathematical contrivance of that curious Globe, how is it possible but he must spy a most wise, most perfect, and most powerful Architect, even that God, who commanded them into being, and still preserves them from decay and ruine?

Would he but consider, how things that have a beginning, could not make them­selves, unless they were, before they were, (which implies, a contradiction) and there­fore must certainly be made, and produced at first by some supreme cause, that is eternal, and omnipotent. Would he but reflect on the universal consent of Mankind, how not only the civiliz'd, but the most barbarous Nations in all Ages, have had a sense of a Deity; and how improbable it is that all Man­kind should conspire into such a Cheat, if there were no Supreme power, how ratio­nal it is, that when Men of different Consti­tutions, [Page 215] Complexions, Principles, Desires, In­terests, Opinions, do all, or most of them agree in one thing, there must necessarily be something more than ordinary in't, and the Notion must be supposed either imprinted by God on the hearts of all men, or carefully deliver'd to Posterity by the first Planters of the world, which in all probability they would not have done, except they had had very good ground, and reason for it. Would the Fool, I say, but think seriously on these familiar Arguments, how could he say in his heart, There is no God?

How could the wretch deny a Providence, if he did but take notice, how all things are preserved in those stations, spheres, and ten­dencies, they were at first created in. How things contrary to one another, are kept from destroying one another. How every thing prosecutes the end for which it was produ­ced. How the Sea that's higher than the Earth, is yet kept from over-running, and drowning it. How Kingdoms, Empires and Commonwealths are continued and conser­ved in the world. How one Countrey is made a scourge to the other for their sin; and how the soberer Nation many times conquers the more debauched and vicious, till the formers Sobriety dying, proves a presage of the fune­ral of their happiness. How men are suffered [Page 216] to tyrannize, and to rage, that their fall af­terward may be more grievous, and terrible. How sin, is punished with sin; and with what measure we mete, with the same other men mete to us again. How strangely Mur­ther is found out, and secret Villanies disco­vered,Note: Sucton. in Calig. arraigned, and condem­ned. How Caligula, that bids defiance to Heaven, and threatens Jupiter to chastise him, if he sent rain that day, his Play­ers were to Act; how the poor miserable creature hides his head in a Feather-bed, when it thunders; and how the stoutest sin­ners tremble, even then, when no man pur­sues them. How light is frequently produ­ced out of darkness; the greatest felicity, from the greatest misery; and even sin itself so ordered, that it proves an occasion of the greatest good. How miraculously men are preserved, and how prodigiously rescued from dangers, that hang over their heads, and threaten their destruction. How one man is punished by prosperity, another favo­red by wanting of it. How one mans bles­sings are turn'd into curses, and another mans curses into blessings. How men perish, that they may not perish; and are suffer'd to grow poor, that they may be rich; and are depri­ved of all, that they may arrive to far greater plenty. How strangely many times men are [Page 217] preserved from sin, and something comes in, and crosses their sinful attempts and intenti­ons, that they are not able to put their pur­poses in execution. How men are fitted for several employments, and no office or business so mean, and fordid, but some men have a genius, or inclination to it. How beasts, which are stronger than men, are yet kept from hurting men; and men themselves, that in­tend mischief to their Neighbors, are pre­vented in their designs, and in the Net they spread for others, their foot is taken. How by very inconsiderable means, very great things are effected; and sometimes without means, very signal changes and alterations are produced. How the greatest Enemy, sometimes becomes the greatest Friend; and he that hated another unto death, is on a sud­den convinc'd of his folly, and loves him as his own Soul. How kindly the Heavens dispense their former, and latter rain; and how upon solemn Prayers and Supplications, some great Judgment is averted, and men re­stored to their former peace and tranquility. How even in things fortuitous, Justice is exe­cuted; and the Arrow which such a man shot at random, is yet so guided, as to hit the per­son, guilty of some heinous Crime. How such a mans ruine, proves anothers instruction; and he whom Education could not engage [Page 218] to Prudence, learns to be wise by anothers fall. How men ignorantly contrive their Neighbors good, and while they least intend the happiness of others, take the readiest course to make their labours successful and prosperous. How a word that drops some­times from the Preachers mouth in a Sermon, shall make that impression on the Hearers heart, as to change it, and work him into another man.

He that would take such passages as these into serious Consideration, how were it pos­sible for him to question a Providence, that orders, and rules, and governs all, and ex­tends its care even to the least, most minute, and most abject, and contemptible creature? How could he forbear to admire God, as the most wise, most knowing, most lovely, most perfect, most holy, and most beautiful Being, whose eyes run to and fro, to shew himself strong in the behalf of those, whose heart is upright towards him.

The Unbeliever, that doth not believe the Scripture to be the Word of God, and fan­cies there is no other World, no Judgment after Death, and thinks it irrational, That temporal sin should be punish'd with an eter­nity of torments; it's want of Considera­tion, makes him continue Infidel:

[Page 219]For, I. As for the Scripture, which con­tains the Sum and Substance of the Chri­stian Religion, would he but take a walk in the Field, or in his Garden, or in his Cham­ber, and weigh the Arguments, which make for the Divinity of this Book, and consider, what he can object against it, and whether his objections be equal in strength, and weight, with the reasons, that fetch its pedigree from Heaven, he would soon be of another mind, and pity the weakness, and sauciness of those Youngsters, that play up­on the Oracles of God in Ale-houses, or Taverns, or Theatres. He need only dispute with himself in this manner.

I see the whole Christian world for so many Centuries together hath embraced these sacred Volumes, as a Treasure of Gods Will, and Ordinances, as a Directory dropt down from Heaven, to teach them, how God will be worship'd, what Notions they are to entertain of God, and what they are to do to save their Souls for ever. It's very proba­ble, that God, wherein all goodness, all mer­cy, and of infinite pity, and hath made this world to serve man, and endow'd him with a capacity of knowing, and adoring God, would not leave him destitute of such helps, and means, as might best promote his know­ledge of him; but find out a way, to mani­fest [Page 220] himself to him, especially when it's evi­dent, that without some better directions, than Nature gives, men are so very apt to fall into errors, and misapprehensions of his glo­ry, and majesty. Whether this Book contain therefore the true Revelations, which God hath been pleas'd to make to mankind, is the question.

Upon examination I find, That there is nothing in this Book, either promised, or threatned, or commanded, but what is Deo dignum, fit for a God to promise, and threaten, and command.

Whatever is deliver'd here, seems to be very agreeable to his Majesty, and Sovereign­ty, and Divine Nature. The rewards, as well as punishments, are Godlike; and the Du­ties pressed here, are but the necessary conse­quents of his Goodness, and Justice, and Government, and Supremacy, which conse­quences, because man, by reason of his cor­ruption, was not able to deduce from the No­tion of a God, God thought fit to reveal, and manifest to him, by various Passages, Histories, Prophecies, Parables, Precepts, and Conclusions.

Upon inquiry I perceive, that the designs of this Book are at least very harmless, its great aime being, to make men good, and just, and honest, and live like men of reason. [Page 221] Whatever verity or truth the light of Na­ture, or Reason dictates, is here to be found; and this Book is so far from contradicting, or abolishing any thing of that nature, that it improves, and refines it. If I search all the Volumes of the ancient Heathen Philoso­phers, men, who ransackt Nature, and tryed what Nature would discover of God, and anatomized the Law written upon mens hearts. If I peruse all the Lessons, and Rules of Morality, they gave and prescribed to Mankind, I find them all deliver'd in this Book, much purer, and much clearer, than those Philosophers were able to propose them.

The Sacred Writers, whoever they were, for ought I see, were men of very noble, and generous spirits; for their great endeavor is, to instruct and edifie mankind, and to teach them such delights, as are fit for a ra­tional Soul to embrace. I see, they exhort men to live like themselves, like persons ca­pable of conversing with God. I see they are all for preservation of humane Societies, and to this end, they speak against all that's evil, and encourage Justice, and Peace, and Unity, and Charity, and Obedience to Go­vernors, and all that's good and holy, and condemn al Hypocrisie, commend upright dealing, and sincerity of heart, and proscribe [Page 222] even those sins, which the world can take no notice of, sins of thoughts, sins of the heart, and sins of secresie, and urge a hearty, un­feigned love to our Neighbor. Their great care, and sollicitude is, that men may not be kept unacquainted with themselves; and though they liv'd in different Ages, at dif­ferent Times, and were of different Educa­tions, yet they all agree in their great endea­vor and design to purifie mens hearts, and to keep their Consciences void of offence to­wards God, and towards men. They would have God worship'd, and honour'd like a God, in Spirit, and in Truth, and require the cream and marrow of our endeavours, our dearest and tenderest love to be given to him, which indeed is a worship fit for him, that is our Supreme Ruler, and Governor, in whom we live, and have our Being.

They condemn all Sensuality, which makes men live like Beasts; and all impatience, and discontent, which makes their Lives misera­ble; and all Pride, and Haughtiness, which makes their near Neighbors hate, and despise them; and all base Selfishness, which makes them uncompassionate. They prescribe the greatest Cordials against Crosses, and Affli­ctions; for they promise a better life after this, a life of everlasting joy and bliss; and suppose there were no such life, yet would [Page 223] the fancy of it be mighty pleasing in distress, and calamities, and serve to bear us up under the greatest burthens; and should we find nothing of that nature, when we come to dye, to be sure there would be no body to laugh at us.

They represent God as infinitely merciful to wretched men and willing to accept of those that repent, and turn, and sincerely fear him, and to make them everlastingly happy; and yet that men may not presume, and turn the grace of God into wantonness, they re­present him just withall, that will take ven­geance on, those, who provoke his patience, and mock his compassion, and abuse his mer­cy into contempt of his Laws. They repre­sent him as a very reasonable Master, that layes upon his servants no more, than they are able to bear, and expects returns answer­able to the favors he bestows on them, and such services, as are in some measure propor­tionable to the means he hath afforded them, which is no more, but what we expect from our servants. All which is highly rational; and I must needs imagine, since no men, that ever liv'd in the world, could give the world such exact Rules for the improvement, and advancement of a rational Soul, as these Writers do, that they must have had some Divine Spirit to guide them. To exalt the [Page 224] Soul, and to elevate it above Sense, and Earth, and Dross, and Dung, and to make it fit to be admitted to familiarity with its Ma­ker, seems to be the very drift and design of this Book; and if it were not Divine, or Inspired, it might however deserve the repu­tation of maintaining the greatest, and most generous designs, that ever were carried on by mankind.

But sure, its original, is more than humane; and the persons who deliver these things, had certainly a Divine Commission. When I look either upon, Moses, and the Prophets in the Old, or upon Jesus, and his Apostles in the New Testament, Men who were the chief Promulgers of the Truths, deliver'd in these Books, methinks there appears something ex­traordinary in them, and I cannot but see the Finger of God, that did direct and help them. If I believe any thing, that I never heard, or saw my self, I have the greatest rea­son in the world to believe, that that Mo­ses, whom both Jews and Heathen call the great Leader, and Captain General of the Jews, was inspired from above, when he gave his Law to the whole Nation of the Jews. That he wrought those stupendious miracles which are recorded in Scripture, the Jewish Nation hath firmly and constant­ly believed, ever since they were wrought; [Page 225] and how 600 000 men before whom they were wrought, and who did feed upon ma­ny of those Wonders, and who have delive­red the real performance of those Miracles down to their Posterity, and so imprinted it on the hearts of their Progeny, that neither Sword, nor Fire, could ever make them de­ny it. How, I say, this vast multitude of men could be mistaken in those Miracles, and give credit to his Law, observe every punctilio of it, upon the account of those Miracles, if they had not been confident of the truth and reality of them, is altogether unaccountable to a rational man. These Miracles he could never have wrought without a supernatural power, nor can I imagine any other reason, why God should honour him with that su­pernatural power, but only to confirm the Law, and Statutes, he gave to the Jews, and to testifie unto them, and to assure them, that they came from God, and that the punish­ments threatned, would certainly attend the wilful neglecters of that Law.

That the Prophets foretold things, some 200, some 300, some 500 years, before they came to pass, is so evident from the History of Josias, Cyrus, and the Messias, who was to come, that he must profess himself a stranger to all History, that denies it; for I find the Jews had those Prophecies by them many [Page 226] years, before they were fulfilled, and there­fore cannot be supposed to have forged those Prophecies, after the things pretended to be foretold in them, were come to pass.

But had we no other testimony that the Writings of the Old Testament are inspired, and of Divine Original, but that of Jesus, and his Apostles, (provided we can prove, that these came with Divine Authority) there would be enough to satisfie any person, that doth not delight in disputing against light, and reason.

That we owe the Doctrine of the New Testament to this Jesus, and his Apostles, the whole Christian world hath unanimously believed for 1600 years together; and I must needs suppose, there could not have been such a stir in the World, for so many hundred years together, about the Religion of Jesus, if there had not been such a person in the world. But in this I find the whole world agree; That there was such a person, not on­ly Christians, but their greatest Enemies both Jews and Heathen, do confess it. This Jesus as he doth aver and maintain, That God spake by Moses, and the Prophets of old, so he could not but be himself a person sent from God to reform the world, and to let them know the will and pleasure of the Al­mighty, concerning their everlasting happi­ness.

[Page 227]For I find he wrought such Miracles, Works so exceeding Art, and Nature, that they were the wonder, and confusion of the World; Nor do I upon examination per­ceive, that the Jews deny it; only they give out, that being well skill'd in the Art of Ma­gick, and dealing with the Devil, he made all that stir and noise in the World, and drew so many followers after him, which to any man in his wits seems the filliest Plea imagi­nable; for his Doctrine, Life, Miracles, all tended to the destruction of the Devils King­dom. His first work was to forbid Idolatry, and to pull down the Worship of Devils, and to encourage real Goodness, and Piety, and abhorrency not only of all evil, but of all appearance of evil; and, if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, and how then shall his Kingdom stand? Matth. 12.26.

I find that the Art of Magick in those dayes, was in great request with all the Gran­dees of the Jews, and they arriv'd to very great perfection in it. And if this Jesus wrought his Miracles by that Art, why could not those great Masters of Magick, imitate those wonderful Works; not to mention, that at his Crucifixion, when they alledg'd all that Malicce, or Hell could suggest against him, none of his Adversaries, whatever some [Page 228] of them had done before, durst be so abomi­nably impudent, as to charge him with that black and dismal crime. Nero certainly had the greatest advantages of any man that ever liv'd, to know the utmost reach of Magick; for as his extreme viciousness and debauchery made him the Devils Darling, so he had all the Magicians in the World to teach, and to instruct him; yet with all the tricks and jug­gles, that either Men or Devils could fur­nish him withall, I do not find, that he was able to Cure a cut Finger.

As great an Enemy as Julian the Apostate was to the Christian Religion, as much as he hated, and persecuted it, yet by what is Re­corded by very faithful Men, I see, he could not deny, but that Jesus did open the eyes of some blind Men, and Cured others that were Lame, and dispossessed not a few, that were molested with evil spirits; and though he makes light of these wonders, yet to a Man that is not possessed with prejudice, those Works will seem Divine and Supernatural; not but that Cataracts, and accidental dim­ness of the eyes, may be redressed by natu­ral means; but where Men that are born blind, are restored to their sight with a word, it cannot but argue a Commission from Heaven.

[Page 229]I cannot readily comprehend, why Tibe­rius should have been so fond, to have this Jesus ascribed into the number of the Ro­man Gods; or why Severus should worship him in his Closet among his other Deities; or why Adrian would have purpos'd to erect Temples, without Images to his Honour, if they had not look'd upon him as some extra­ordinary person, and had not been sufficient­ly assured of the many wonderful Works he had done.

The Evangelists (whose Writings I have no more reason to question, than I do the Writings of Tacitus, or Seneca, or Cicero, or Livy, they having been universally acknow­ledged to be theirs, and no man having ever been able to confute their relation, or to give any satisfactory Argument, why they should not be believed) these Evangelists, some of them being Eye-witnesses, I find, make men­tion of several Miracles that were wrought before great multitudes of people; and cer­tainly some of them would have found it out, if there had been a cheat, or juggle in't: Nay, is it rational, that the Apostles of this Jesus would, or durst have with that free­dom boldness, and confidence, have affirmed, asserted, and abetted both his Resurrection, and his Miracles, in the very Metropolis of Judea, in the City of Jerusalem, where it had [Page 230] been an easie matter to discover the fraud, if there had been no such thing? From all which, I must necessarily conclude, as Nico­demus, John 3. ver. 2. Master, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God; for no man can, do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Indeed, if I will not put a Vail over my face, and wilfully blind my self, I must needs conclude, That his Doctrine must necessarily be Divine, whose Miracles were so; nor can I suppose it possible, that God would suffer that person, whom he intrusted with his own power of doing Miracles, to obtrude unto the World false and idle Tales, or unnecessary and impertinent Doctrines, and Injunctions. I cannot conceive, why God should communi­cate to him the power of doing Miracles, except it be to confirm the Divinity and in­dispensable necessity of his Doctrine and Pre­cepts; so that, if the works he did, had a Divine original; his Doctrine and Commands must be derived from Heaven too, else it would follow, that God had been very un­wise in his choice, and had exerted his om­nipotent power to little or no purpose, only to make a shew in the World, or to increase the Kingdom of darkness, than which, there can nothing be imagin'd more absurd, or in­congruous.

[Page 231]If I consider the progress of this Gospel, I find it's altogether miraculous, not only be­cause the Apostles, who propagated this Do­ctrine, had the power of Miracles confer'd on them by this Jesus, which proves him to have been in the form of God, but because in less than 200 years, without force or arms, in despite of Sword and Fire, and the direst Torments, it spread over all the known world. That the Mahometan Religion made a stupendous progress, after its first rise, is not denied; but he that shall reflect on the means whereby it enlarged its power, viz. by Sword, and Violence, by depopula­ting Countries, by killing and murthering all that resisted, will judge it rose from Hell rather, than came down from Heaven. But I find the Gospel spread to a Miracle on­ly by innocence, and patience; by doing good, and suffering evil, the proper Arms of Heaven.

I see how in despite of all the Arts, and Stratagems, the Devil could invent to stop its progress, in despite of all the endeavours of Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Decius, Diocle­sian, to root it out, it mock'd their rage and fury. I find how the blood of Martyrs, that was spilt this day, brought forth a greater number of Confessors the next; and multi­tudes [Page 232] of Christians, that were sacrificed this week, were seconded by a greater Army in a few dayes after, and men seem'd to glory in being designed for death, and serving as Ap­prentices of Martyrdom; and though here and there a Mahometan may die for his Re­ligion, yet such a number of Martyrs no Re­ligion can shew; and what can I think of so many Myriads of men, that being offered Ease, Plenty, Riches, Honours, Preferments, despised them all, and would suffer the most exquisite Tortures, Tortures which the Exe­cutioners themselves trembled at, and which made the very Heathen blush to see such in­humanity, rather than deny that Doctrine, which they had upon indubitable Testimo­nies receiv'd as Divine? what can I think, I say, of these men, but that they had sufficient­ly search'd into the truth of this Gospel, and were most certainly assured, that it was the Word, and Will of God; and that this Je­sus would most certainly fulfill his promises to them, and give them eternal life, if they could be content to lose their lives on earth for his sake; That so many Hundred thou­sand men, many of them learned, and wise, and of noble blood, and ingenious educati­on, should throw away their lives in a hu­mor, without very good ground, that what [Page 233] they believed was really Divine, and could not but be so, is a thing altogether unac­countable to a rational man.

I read, how in and about Christ's time, ei­ther just before his coming, or shortly after his departing out of this world, by confessi­on of the Heathen themselves, the Heathen Oracles, and the Voices of Devils ceas'd. And can I think the Devil would have left delu­ding the world, by his ambiguous Oracles, gone off of the Stage voluntarily, and qui­etly, except he had been forced, and compel­led to it by this prodigious person, whom God sent into the world to reveal his glory? Certainly it could not be one that was meer man, whom these evil Spirits would have vailed and bowed to; without he had been more than man, they would have disputed their power, and maintained their possession, and defended their universal Empire, and made men know, that the arm of flesh was a very inconsiderable weapon to controll, or dethrone the Rulers of the darkness of this world.

I find wherever this Gospel came, the Devil fled away, this destroyed his Service, Priests, and Altars, the gates of Hell could not withstand it; nor can I see which way the Gospel could have effected all this, [Page 234] without its power and efficacy had been Divine.

I read what strange alterations it made up­on all Peoples tempers, dispositions, and af­fections, who embrac'd it; what should make so many great men, so many subtle Philoso­phers, so many learned Men, so many Sages, men of the greatest wit, and judgment, and apprehension, both in the Eastern and Western Empire, yield and submit to it, and throw away their vain Philosophical Learn­ing, and humble themselves to the Cross of Christ, except they had seen the stamp of God upon it? I find, that the greatest Orators, and Logicians, and the ablest Disputants, that came with an intent to deride it, were capti­vated, and conquer'd by it, and submitted to its Lawes and Doctrines, The change it wrought upon Peoples spirits, was wondrous strange; the Cholerick, the Envious, the Drunkard, the Fornicator, the Adulterer, the Worldling, the Oppressor, the Timorous, the Pusillanimous, were on a sudden transform'd into Love, Meekness, Sobriety, Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Liberality, Fortitude, and Magnanimity; and they that before trembled, at the thoughts of Fire, and wild Beasts, offered themselves to flames, and took it ill if they were put by, and deprived of the [Page 235] Honour of riding in such fiery Chariots to Heaven.

Nay, I see at this day, how wonderfully it works on the Souls of men, makes them act against their natural inclinations, without any prospect of temporal interest, go against the bias of their corruptions, and stop in their career to Hell, which they were run­ning to with most eager appetite. I see how it makes them hate that evil company they formerly delighted in, and how insipid it ren­ders all the jests of their old Associates, how it makes them love their Enemies, do good to them that hate them, pray for them that persecute them, and despitefully use them; how it makes them live above sense, and seek their greatest satisfaction in the wayes and ordinances of God. In a word, how from Beasts, it changes them into men; and from men, into more than men. And what can I ascribe all this to, but to a Divine Spirit, that by this Gospel subdues the hearts, and brings the lusts and affections of men into obedi­ence to Christ Jesus.

He that shall take such Arguments as these into serious Consideration, may easily satisfie himself, that in these Volumes is contain'd the true Will of God, at least, that this, of all things extant, is most likely to be the Will of God, nothing in nature having those circum­stances, [Page 236] and characters, and testimonies of a Divine Original, as the Rules contain'd in these Books, we call the Bible, have; & what­ever seeming Contradictions and Tautolo­gies may be found there, to a Considerate man it would appear, that as long as the main thing, the true way to happiness, is se­cured, such accidental things, as frequency of the same expressions, and Chronological mistakes committed by the various Transcri­bers, may be pass'd by, without offence; That many things which have seem'd Con­tradictions, upon examination of the Customs, and Circumstances of the Age these Books were written in, have been found no Contradictions; and that thus it may be in all the rest, if we knew all those wayes of speaking, and reckoning, and naming things, and all the Proverbial expressions then in use; That in the substantial things of these Books, there hath been no alteration, or cor­ruption, for so many Ages together; and that the plain way of writing, used here, and repeating the same things often, doth but ar­gue honest simplicity, and want of guile, and unwillingness, to impose upon the world, in those that have written these Books.

And as Consideration would chase away all infidelity of this nature, so the want of it, we find, makes men Sotts, and Beasts, and [Page 237] talk against things they understand not, and cavil at things most sacred, and full of rea­son and majesty. This is it, makes them break jests on that which they ought to tremble at, and speak lightly of those mysteries, which require and challenge our greatest venera­tion.

This 2dly is the Reason, which makes the sensual man question another world, He considers not, what a Divine Angelical Spirit is within him, nor how improbable it is, that the rational part of himself (a thing certainly distinct from his body, and which consists not of matter capable of corruption, and can voluntarily move it self, which mat­ter cannot do) should perish, as the Beasts of the Field; would he but consider how this Notion of an after-retribution is spread all the soberer world over, and certainly this Notion must have a beginning, something or other did occasion it in mens minds; the usual Plea, that Politicians did invent it, to restrain men from secret Villanies, which they saw present Punishments would not do, seems to be strangely impertinent; For not to mention, that there was never any History in the world, that we could hear of, that gave us an account of such a thing, or of the beginning of it, we cannot suppose, that these Politicians, if they were wise men, and [Page 238] expected to see the fruit of their labours, would ever have adventur'd to plant this Notion of a future judgment in mens un­derstandings, had not they either believed, and been persuaded, that there was a possibi­lity of such an after-retribution, and that the notion was very sutable and agreeable to mans reason; or observ'd, that there was in most men a very great inclination to believe it, else they might have persuaded, the world, that black is white, or that it's better to be blind, than to see, Maxims, which would have expos'd them to scorn and contempt. And whence should this sutableness of the Notion to mans reason, or that easie closing of the Soul with the Notion, or mens readi­ness to embrace the Notion upon the first hearing of it, whence can all this be, but from the stamp and impression the great Creator hath made on the hearts of men, when first he gave them a being in the world; nor can we think so mean of this first cause, as to sup­pose, that he made this Notion so sutable to the rational Soul of man, or endued the Souls of men with a proneness to entertain it, without there had been really such a thing, as a future retribution, else it would follow, that this Supreme Being had given us a proneness to believe a Lye, or a thing, which is not, and consequently impos'd, and put a [Page 239] cheat upon his creatures, which is equally absurd, and blasphemous.

Nor could melancholy men be the first Broachers of it, as is pretended by some; for we do not find, that melancholy fancies do ordinarily spread so much. He that fancies he sees such and such things in the Air, or in his House, or entertains Notions that are out of the common road, gets but very few to imitate, or to follow him, or to think as he cloth. But this Notion of an after-retribu­tion takes posession of the greatest, and learnedst men, nay, the most airy constituti­ons embrace it, men of all complexions and tempers imbibe and cherish it, and they can­not stand out against the Notion, it appears so reasonable; so that still we must have re­course to him, that first made Man, and made this Notion so agreeable to his reason; and this he would not, could not have done, if such a thing had never been intended.

Would the sensual Wretch but ruminate upon these circumstances, the Consideration would confound his foolish principles, and childish conclusions; would he but take time to consider how hard a matter it is, to eradi­cate this Notion out of the mind, after it hath once taken root there, what pains some da­ring men are forc'd to use, to lift or eject this principle out of their Souls; how they [Page 240] are forced to drink and swear, to be rid of it; how they must turn Beasts, unman them­selves, turn day into night, and night into day, caress all sorts of temptations, make themselves slaves to their lusts, court the vi­lest of mankind, seek out jovial society, run through a perfect discipline of Vice, are afraid to be alone, are ever in a hurry, dare not make use of their reason, are forc'd to banish all serious thoughts, are constrained to enter­tain all that's light and frothy, encourage themselves in nothing but sensuality, avoid all sober and grave discourses, be alwayes in the noise of Drums and Trumpets, I mean in the noise of idle Tales and Divertisements, damp all the checks of their own Conscien­ces, read Playes and Romances, and busie themselves about nothing but trifles, things, that School-boyes would be ashamed of, and all this to root out this one poor Notion of an After-judgment; and yet when they have done all this, debauch'd their virtuous prin­ciples, ruin'd nature, dethron'd their reason, made themselves greater slaves to the Devil possibly, than the Devil would have them to be, they cannot totally banish it, it will come again, and fright them; and the Notion sticks so close, it is so riveted in the Soul, that nei­ther the blood of the grapes, nor all the fro­licks and merriments they can think of, nor [Page 241] all the mistresses and strumpets in the world, can totally blot, and deface it.

Would he but consider all this, an easie matter would make him conclude, If there be no such thing, and nothing but Education produces and causes those needless apprehen­sions of an After-judgment, then why is it so hard a matter to eradicate this nothing? One would think, if it stands for a Cypher only, it should be no hard matter to unravel Education; for a Vice I see though it be be­come a second nature, may be unlearn'd by degrees; but this Notion of an After-judg­ment, though the sinner may suppress, and smother it for some time, yet that it should break out again, and when the Wretch thinks he hath conquer'd it, should return with greater violence, nay, beat so much stronger upon the mind, by how much more a man strives to put it out, as if it would not be denied, and would have admittance, in de­spight of all opposition, and mock'd all the weapons that Nature, and the wit of Man can use against it; This sure makes it more than probable, that it is a Plant, which God himself hath planted in the Soul.

Would he consider with himself, I believe there is a God, and I cannot but allow that God impartial justice. To deny him this, is to deny him Perfection, and consequently to [Page 242] deny his Being; for the notion of a God, implies absolute perfection; If this God be just, how shall I judge of his Justice? I have no other rule to go by, but that justice, which all Mankind believes to be justice. If God be our Governour, (as certainly none hath greater right to it, because in him we live, and breathe, and have our being) he cannot but be a righteous Governour, and how can he be a Righteous Governour, with­out distributive justice, without making a just difference by rewards and punishments, between the obedient and disobedient? and When I see God makes no just difference in this life, by rewards and punishments, be­tween those that serve him, and those that de­spise and contemn his Will; what can I con­clude, but that he intends to make it in the life to come, or after this life is ended? Which way he intends to do it, is not material for me to know, as long, as I am assur'd that this Soul I carry within me, will be the principal sub­ject of these joyes or miseries. He is most certainly able to preserve that Soul which he hath made capable of being govern'd by moral Laws and Precepts, and to be wrought upon by moral perswasions into obedience to his Laws; he is most certainly able, I say, to keep our Souls in being, even when they leave the Earthly Tabernacle of [Page 243] their Bodies, and to punish, or reward them according to their Works; these Souls being the principal Agents in good or evil: and he that was able to create the Body, is cer­tainly able to raise it again, and unite it to the Soul, that so both may participate of the same fate. Nay, the necessity of these after-rewards and punishments enforce a ne­cessity at least, of Gods preserving the Soul, for these rewards and punishments; and what way soever God hath to preserve our intellectu­al part after death; its enough to me, or to any rational man, that according to the no­tion and apprehension, we have of justice, he cannot be just, without he doth preserve it, either for reward or punishment.

For, that God doth not sufficiently reward and punish Men in this life, daily experi­ence gives me sufficient testimonies. The wickedest of Men, are very often the great­est in the World; and those that oppress such as truly fear God, swim in all manner of plenty, and ease, and riches, and honour. And though its true, that such men have sicknesses and dye, yet those are things com­mon to good and bad, and can be thought no just differencing retributions, Those that make it their business to observe Gods Laws, labour to approve themselves his most obe­dient Subjects, and his most faithful Servants, [Page 244] ordinarily suffer great injuries, are unjustly arraign'd, condemn'd, executed, undergo tortures of cruel mockings, of scourgings, of bonds, of imprisonments. And their Ac­cusers, or Judges, may be, have all that heart can wish; their Eyes stand out with fatness, neither are they plagued like other Men, or if they be sometimes afflicted, the afflicti­on is not at all answerable to the horrid­ness of the crimes they commit.

How gently do many of these Monsters dye upon their Beds, no Lamp expires more leisurely than their breath, while the other, that meditates in Gods Law, day and night, dies with disgrace and shame, or is most bar­barously murther'd, and butcher'd. Can I look upon all these passages and occurren­cies, and not conclude another world? I must eiher conclude there is no Governour of the World, or if there be one, that Governour will certainly find a time, if not here, yet hereafter to manifest his Justice, to reward the Innocent, and to punish those that bid defiance to Heaven.

Either Man is a nobler Creature, than a Beast, or he is not, if he be not, what means his Reason, his Speech, his Power to ex­press his Mind, and to examine the nature, manner, ends, causes, and designes of all things, his dominion over all the Beasts of [Page 245] Earth, &c. If he be, we must not affirm that of him, which will certainly declare him more miserable than the Beasts, whose spirit goes downwards, If there be no o­ther World, no Judgement to come, no after-retribution, why is man possessed with the fear of it? This fear is a thing of that consequence, and hath so great an influence upon Mens Lives, that from that fear, ac­cording as Creatures are either possest with it, or want it, they may justly be call'd ei­ther happy or miserable. Beasts I see, are not capable of these fears, and consequent­ly cannot be disturb'd with the apprehensi­on of such things, and therefore must neces­sarily be more happy, and nobler Creatures, than Men, who are not only capable of such apprehensions, but by a natural instinct, feed and cherish such thoughts as these.

And can there be any thing more absurd, than to call an Ox, or Lion, or Elephant, a nobler Creature than Man? and yet this must necessarily follow, if there be no other world. Man would be the most miserable Creature in the world, being so apt to be tormented with those fears, if he did dye into annihilation: and he might justly wish himself a Beast, and lament, that God had put such a clog to all his delights and merri­ments and accuse his Maker of Injustice, or [Page 246] Cruelty, for frighting, or possessing him with fears of that which never was, nor is, nor will be,

Such considerations would most certainly satisfy any rational, impartial Man, and deli­ver him from halting between two opinions, and convince him, that he doth not cease to be, when he dies, that there is a just Judge, and that he will in a short time find it by woful experience, if a serious return to God prevent it not, that when the jolly sinner banishes all thoughts and contemplations of this Nature from his Mind, he turns Mon­ster, Changeling, Devil, nay, worse than Devil, for the Devils believe a world to come, and tremble, and its meerly want of consideration makes him so.

3. The same defect makes him wonder at the malapertness, and impertinence of Di­vines, that in every Sermon almost, pro­nounce Eternal Flames, to be a due and just punishment for Temporal sins.

Let the vain man but call his thoughts together, and summon his understanding, to take a view of such Topicks as these. Why should I think it incongruous to Gods ju­stice, to punish sins committed here, with an Eternity of pain and anguish? Hath not he power to do with his own what he pleas­eth? May not he affright stubborn sinners, [Page 247] with what punishment he hath a mind to? Had I a Servant, to whom I were as kind as to my own Child, whom I had rais'd out of the Dust, and heap'd innumerable Favours upon, and promis'd all my Estate to, after some few years service, and should that Ser­vant, instead of honouring me, despise me, where ever he comes, instead of obeying me, laugh at my reasonable commands; instead of Working, play his time away, instead of going to the place I send him to, run to Brothel-Houses, or Taverns; instead of loving me, hate me, and affront me, slight both my actual kindesses, and my future smiles, and notwithstanding my continual exhorta­tions to another course of life, continue wilfully in the way he hath begun, meerly to gratify his foolish Lusts, and when he is convinc'd too of the unreasonableness of his doings, knows it is Ingratitude in the high­est Degree, and yet will be guilty of it; and when he might do otherwise only out of malice, and to vindicate his own humour, resolves against it; what punishment can there be too great for such a wretch?

Were this mine, or my neighbors case, we should certainly doom such a monster, to all the Tortures that severity can invent, or in­flict; and why should I have any hard thoughts of God, for punishing the sinners Ingratitude, [Page 248] with eternal pain and loss, an ingrati­tude so great, all things consider'd, that the worst returns one man can make to another, cannot sufficiently express the horror and vileness of it.

God for ought I see in condemning wilful sinners to Eternal misery, gives them but their own choice, and if that old saying be true, Volenti non fit injuria, To him that's willing, can be done no injury, God certainly cannot be ac­cus'd of cruelty, for he gives the stubborn sin­ner but that, which he deliberately pitcht up­on, and affected; and though no man doth ordinarily chuse punishment, much less ever­lasting calamity for its own self; yet as long as they do with vehement affection, long af­ter that, which hath this calamity inseparably annext, we justly suppose that they agree to suffer the calamity, as well as to enjoy the thing, which is the others inseparable companion. He that is certain that the smell of such an Herb, or Flower is poisonous, and will kill him, if notwithstanding this conviction, he will smell to it; its apparent he makes choice of his death and ruine.

There is not a sinner, that lives under the Gospel, but he must know, that he who doth not practically believe the Gospel, or, which is all one, lives in wilful contempt of the Laws of the Gospel, shall certainly be damn'd; for [Page 249] the Gospel is so full of these threatenings, that he, that doth but come to any place, where this word of life is preach'd, if he be not deaf, he must necessarily hear it; nay, if he will but make the least enquiry, and set himself to con­sider seriously, whether that Gospel be of God or no; he cannot but find, that it is the Son of God, even he who can assoon loose his being, as tell a lye, that hath, with all the protestati­ons imaginable, threatened this everlasting condemnation to Men, that are resolv'd to prefer satisfaction of their Lust, before all his wisest and wholsomest Precepts.

This being known by all, that have any reason or understanding, as much as that Fe­lony, or Burglary, is death by the Law, if in de­spight of this knowledge, and perswasion, the hard-hearted wretch will venture upon a life of disobedience and contempt, to which damnation is inseparably annext: What can I think, but that the vain Man is in Love with his own Eternal destruction?

In Love with it! So one would think, that sees him drive to everlasting death, as furi­ously as Jehu did to Jezreel, and make more haste to invade the Gates of Hell, than Eli­jah, for all his fiery Chariot, did to get to Heaven. The Man that runs through Swords and Daggers, breaks down Walls and Fences, poisons the principles of Sobriety, Provi­dence [Page 250] hath lodg'd in his Breast, strangles the kind suggestions of his own Conscience, cracks the Bolts and Barrs of a virtuous Edu­cation, seeks out Dangers, and precipitates himself into them, and with the noise of his riot, strives to overcome the calls of the Holy Ghost within, defies all present con­victions, dis-regards the Groans and Cryes, and Tears, and Wounds of a crucified Sa­viour, that would keep him from being un­done, vanquishes Gods methods to catch him into Repentance, breaks through all the prohibitions of the Gospel, through Vows and Promises, and Sacraments, and most solemn Engagements, charges all the threatenings of a jealous God, and fights his way through Rocks of oppositions, and all to get to Hell and Damnation, sure makes that his choice, and if so, God doth him no in­jury, in giving him his own hearts desire.

A Sheep or a Horse, certainly can never counter-ballance the life of a Man, yet he that knows, he shall be hanged if he steal either, and will in despight of the penalty, venture, meerly to gratify his sickly fancy, justly suffers the punishment, which seems to bear no proportion with the things he stole; the justice of the punishment, is found­ed in the malefactors choice. And so we find it in the case before us, the Blessing and the [Page 251] Curse, is laid before the sensual Man, Life and death are proposed to him, he's put to his choice which of these he'l have; He freely, and willfully chuses Death, and the Curse, maugre all that God, or his Angels, or his Ministers can say to the contrary; and it's but just, since he thus fights against God, and seems resolved to cross all God's endeavours, to purify and turn him, and will have his wrath and indignation, and scorns his Mer­cy, God should let him have that Fire and Brimstone, which is the portion of the Sin­ners Cup, and which he is so very greedy af­ter, as if he were afraid, he should never be so happy, as to obtain, or be master of it.

Indeed, the more I think of it, the more I find that its not God so much that condemns him to Eternal misery, as the sinner himself. 'Tis he that's thus barbarous to his own Soul, and adjudges himself to that worm which dies not. He kisses that consuming Fire, as if it were the Light of God's Countenance, and seems to envy the Devils their unhap­piness, he doth so long to be a sharer of it. He snatches Damnation out of the hands of God's Justice, and while God offers to keep it from him, makes a long Arm to reach it.

God alas! doth what he can to save him, his bowels yearn over him, and nothing would please him more, than to see his pe­nitential [Page 252] Tears. He is ready with the good Fa­ther, Luk 15.20. To run, and to have com­passion on him, as soon as he doth but resolve to leave the Kingdom of Darkness; even that God who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the Truth; He waits to be gracious, and justly expects that the Vineyard on which he hath bestowed great cost, and pains, should bring forth Grapes: He doth not afflict the Chil­dren of Men willingly, he delights not in their tortures, he dehorts and discourages them from being accessary to their own ruine. He gives them time and space to repent, he caresses them with his Heaven; he can do no less in justice, than prepare a Hell for the stubborn offender, this is the only way to vindicate the honour of his Law; but then he would have him shun that Tophet, and walk in the way that leads to Life, and promises him to rejoyce over his Repentance, and to crown his serious endeavours with all that's rich and glorious. All the Mercies, Afflictions, Judgements, Providences he sends upon him, are to disswade him from walk­ing in the way to destruction; He wooes the proud Creature to his dying day, and stands between him and eternal anguish, while the wretch faucily thrusts the Eternal God a­way, and will storm the fatal Gate; God [Page 253] would hold him, but he breaks loose from him, and flings himself into the Devils Arms, and then sure it is not God that so much that condemns him to everlasting horror, and anguish, as himself.

But if it were not so, that there is such a punishment threatned in the Gospel, is be­yond dispute. And this threatening to be sure is not like the Ceremonial Law, which was but a shadow of things to come, and so fell of it self, when the substance appear'd. In this threatening, there are no Types, and therefore we can look for no Abolition; This is God's peremptory determination, this way he is unalterably resolv'd to pro­ceed, and most certainly God is not a Man, that he should lye, or a Son of Man, that he should Repent; His Word is engaged, and the Honor of his Veracity concern'd, to see this threatening executed; should God dispense with it, it would follow, that God either did not know what he did when he made this sanction, or that he repents of it, as unjust, or that he did not foresee the in­conveniences, which were like to ensue up­on the execution of this threatening, all which consequences are monstrously ab­surd, and unreasonable.

The terms and conditions, upon which Eternal Salvation is offer'd, are so reasona­ble [Page 254] and so just, and I may say, so easy, that the wilful neglect of them deserves no less than loss of the great Salvation, God offers; were the conditions God requires, in order to everlasting Bliss, attended with uncon­querable difficulties; did God require a thousand Rivers of Oil, or the Sacrifice of out First-born; or dragging the Cattel up­on a thousand Hills to his Altar, did he require us to wade through stinking Ditches full of Leeches, and venemous creatures, as the enemy of Mankind is said to advise some of the Indians; did he injoyn us to suf­fer our selves to be crush'd to death under Chariot-wheels, as some of the Heathens of Indostan doe, out of respect to their Idol Jagannath; indeed then, to neglect this pro­mis'd felicity would admit of some excuse, the difficulty of the enterprize would qua­lify the crime, and the omission be capable of some slight Apology.

But when God requires no more but a practical Belief, and submission to those rules, His Son came down from Heaven to teach us, the observance whereof ad­vances our Temporal Interest, as well as our Spiritual; keeps us in health, and in a good temper, makes us live quietly and content­edly, even in this present World, where the duty is profit, and obedience brings its pre­sent [Page 255] reward with it, there to slight an incor­ruptible Crown of Glory; common reason will tell us, that we justly loose it. He that will not accept of the greatest Treasure ima­ginable, if he may have it but for asking; we our selves confess it's pity, he should ever enjoy it, and then when a practical Belief of the promises and threatenings of the Gospel, is all the trouble God desires us to be at, in order to endless Felicity; the condition being so facile, so equitable, we cannot, if we our selves were to be the Judges, but acknowledge, that we deserve never to possess it, if we despise or neglect so reasonable a condition.

The high quality of the person offend­ed, certainly makes a fault the greater; He that kills a King, commits a greater crime, than he that kills a Peasant: And if the dig­nity of the person injured, aggravates the sin, it may justly aggravate the guilt and punishment too. And therefore he that hath affronted his Prince and Soveraign, deserves to lye in Jayl longer than he that hath wrong'd his equal or inferior; and con­sequently he that offends, and wilfully, without need, and malitiously, and for ma­ny years, and in despight of all the Court­ship of Ministers to leave off, offends an In­finite, Eternal, Incomprehensible God; why [Page 256] should not the offence amount to a demerit of Infinite and Eternal punishments? Cer­tain it is, that the obstinate sinner slights an Eternal Redemption, and had he liv'd for ever, he would without all peradventure have sinn'd for ever; and since the Man that would have committed Treason, is deser­vedly executed for Treason; why should not he suffer Eternally, who, if he had liv'd, here to all Eternity, would have affronted God, and abused him to all Eternity. The more I reflect on the nature of sin, the more dreadful it appears to me. If I think of God's Wisdom, I see how sin controuls that, as if God had made very foolish Laws to go­vern Mankind by: if I ruminate on God's Power, I see how sin mocks that, as if all his threatenings were but Bugbears, and God did threaten more than he could per­form: If I cast my Eye upon God's Truth, and Veracity, I see how sin would make him a Lyar, changeable, unfaithful, inconstant to himself: if I take a view of his justice, I see how sin would dash and abolish it; for in that it makes the sinner hope for impunity, when he hath affronted his Maker, as much as he can, what doth it, but enervate God's Righteousness, shake off God's Government, and prompt the sinner to resist, and fight with him, whose Eyes are like flames of Fire [Page 257] and whose Feet are as Brass glowing in a Furnace; and that such a continual contempt of the Almighty, should justly, and deser­vedly, pull down perpetual torments, is a thing not at all contrary to reason; Nay, for ought I see the sinner makes nothing of Eternal Damnation while he lives here; the loss of 50 or 100 l. shall, fright him more than, Everlasting banishment, from the gra­cious Presence of Almighty God, whereby he tacitly confesses, that the punishment is very slight, and inconsiderable, and what wrong doth God do him, in inflicting a pu­nishment upon him, which by his own ac­knowledgement, is so trivial, and so slight, that hee'l sooner endure it, than the loss of a Friend or Relation; nay, many times wishes for it in his common discourse, as if it were some pleasure to see Eternal Flames about his ears.

How soon would Consideration of such Arguments, as these, undeceive the world­ly wretch that talks, he knows not what, when he finds fault with' God's dooming, careless, wilful, obstinate sinners to un­quenchable fire. But its want of Consi­deration, makes his discourse so loose, and wanton. It's this makes him embrace every litle conjecture about the shortness of Hell torments, before the solid arguments that [Page 258] evince an Eternity of God's displeasure a­gainst stubborn sinners: It's this makes him prefer a May-be, before a Real-known-Truth, and the man that makes sport with Eternal misery, shall he be more acceptable company, than the gravest, and most judi­cious Divine, whose Reasons he cannot answer.

Alas! did the Drunkard, When he comes to himself again, Smite upon his Thigh, and say what have I done? how odious is this Vice I indulge my self in? How like a Beast do I live? How unworthy of that Reason which the wise Creator hath bestowed upon me? How unworthy of those Mercies I daily enjoy? How would many of the sober Heathens, have scorned a temptation to such a sin? What follies and extravagancies doth it involve me in? How do I prostitute, and expose my self to the contempt and scorn of Men that know me? How can I hear the Apostle protest, that no Drunkard shall enter into the Kingdom of God, and go on; Will not God take an account one day and examine, how I have spent my time and can I spend my time worse, than by ex­ceeding irrational Creatures in sensuality! What brute but a Swine would disorder it self, as I do my Body? What can I plead in excuse of so soul a crime? ls this renounc­ing [Page 259] the Devil and all his works, as I vow'd to do in Baptisme? Is this adorning the Gos­pel of my Saviour, as my Profession re­quires? If I fear not Hell-fire, why do not I fear impoverishing of my self and Fami­ly? How do I dispose my self for all man­ner of sin, by this enormity! What crime is there that I am not fit for, when my Rea­son is overwhelmed with Drink? How do I embezel the Gifts of God, when I abuse his Creatures thus! How do I pervert the end of Gods bounty when I make that to ruine and destroy my nature, which was intended to preserve it? What difficulty is there in leaving so gross a vice, which threa­tens so much mischief and misery? Is it such a pleasure to make a Pond of my Body? is it such a pleasure to deprive my self of Rea­son? Is it such a pleasure to be laught at by all men that maintain Sobriety? What hurt hath God ever done me, that I should thus wilfully affront him? How soon might I van­quish this sin? if I would in good earnest resolve to be allur'd by my old companions no more? And why should they be dearer to me than my God, my Soul, and a good Conscience? Will these companions save me when I come to dye? Will it not be far more comfortable to have none of this load to burthen, and oppress my Soul? What if [Page 260] God should strike me dead in a drunken fit? Doth not Dives, his calling for a drop of water to cool his burning Tongue, affright me? How do I prepare for Diseases by this Vice? and if there were no Hell, no Judge­ment to come, how should the inconveni­ences, which attend this sin, discourage me? Lord! if neither the Plagues which wait upon the offence in this World, nor the terror of that which is to come, can disswade me, how justly may God pour out all the Vials of his wrath upon me? How justly may he plunge, me into the Red Sea of his Indignation, and leave me to the rage and malice of that Divel, whose voice and sug­gestions I do now obey.

Did the sot but blow those sparks of Rea­son he hath left, into such considerations as these, how horrid, how nauseous would the sin appear? but want of consideration makes him transform the Image of God, into the Image of a Beast, and makes him drink away the Poors relief and his own Estate: This is it makes him a Thief, for he robs the poor, and sometimes hiS own Family, of that su­stenance and support he owes them, as he is a Man, and pretends to be a Christian; this is it makes him laugh, when he should wish for rivers of Tears, and for a Fountain of Water, to deplore the sadness of his conditi­on [Page 261] on here, and the more dreadful state of his Soul hereafter.

Did the swearer but seriously consider, what a foolish, weak, sordid, and impertinent thing it is, to mingle profanations of God's Name, with his Speeches, he would soon take pains to avoid it, and set a mulct upon himself, for running upon the same Rock again. Would he but think, good God! how irrationally do I act! if I believe there is a God, what can I fancy that God to be? sure I must fancy him such a Deity as the Hea­then worshipp'd, one that hath Eyes, and sees not, Ears,' and hears not; a Deity of Brass or Stone, that I can securely play with­al; a Deity, that's not at all jealous of his Honour and Glory, and can sit down un­der every affront that's put upon him; should the meanest of my Servants make use of my name in every trifling discourse, in every foolish story, and whenever he is pettish or peevish, I should take it very ill at his hands; and why should I think, God will endure that from me, which I would not allow in my Foot-Boy, or Valet de chambre? I must con­fess, there is no bait, no temptation to this sin; He that robs upon the high-way, is tempted by an apparent profit; that the Covetous huggs his Gold, and pays Ado­ration to his Money, as to his Saint; That [Page 262] he beholds the Sun when it shines, and the Moon walking in brightness; no marvel, for he sees it hath a kind of Almighty power, can make foes, friends, unlock Gates, break the strong­est Barrs, give him admission into company of the highest quality, &c. The dissemb­ler hopes he may save his credit and repu­tation, and fortune, by not speaking what he thinks, but in swearing, I can have no pro­spect of advantage, and I must only act the Devil, love sin for sins sake; Fornication and Adultery do yet pretend some pleasure, but this I cannot do in swearing; the great­est Masters of pleasures, never reckon'd this sin as an ingredient of carnal satisfaction, and though there is no real necessity for any sin, yet for this I can pretend no necessi­ty at all; were a knife set to my Throat, were my Life in danger, were I to dye pre­sently upon the spot, if I did not swear, I might have some colour of argument for it, but when there is nothing compels me to it, but my own wilfulness, I deserve no pitty, no compassion, if God lashes me with the se­verest Thunders. 'There is no sin that's more in my power to avoid than this, the most barbarous Heathen can shun it, and shall I pretend impossibility? I see it engages me to very great uncivility, I cannot but offend all sober company by it, they must needs be [Page 263] uneasy in my society, and to hear God abus'd, and how ill I do with to my own Soul, can­not but grate upon a heart, that hath any sense of Religion or Honesty; nor do I see that people believe me any whit the more for swearing, but I render my self ridicu­lous, and make people think me dishonest, unfaithful, and treacherous, who make so little conscience of what I say; How can any man trust me, that hears me abuse the best, and deerest friend I have; or what credit can any man give to me, that sees me so trea­cherous to God, to whom I owe all I have? Can there be greater ingratitude in the World, than I am guilty of by this sin? the Air I breathe in, the Earth I tread upon, the Ground which nourishes me, the Fire that warms me, are all the Gift of God; and is this the return I make to take his Name in vain, that supports and maintains me? Do I make nothing of God's threaten­ings? How often doth he manifest his dis­pleasure against this sin in his Word, and can I think I am not concern'd in the com­mination? what hope can I have, that Christ's Bloud will save me, when I swear it away, and thrust it from me with both Arms? how justly may God damn me, that do so often wish for it, and is there any thing in nature so barbarous to it self, as I am in [Page 264] praying to God, as it were, to deliver me up into the clutches of the Devil? No Devil would wish himself so ill, as I do my own Soul, and is there, nothing in the inhumani­ty, and horror of the sin, to discourage, and terrify me from it?

Did the Swearer but ruminate on these disswasive arguments, how would it cool his courage; but neglecting that, he neglects his restorative, and speaks as if he would be revenged on his Maker, for giving him a Tongue.

How soon would the bladder of Pride break, did the proud man but consider, that he is Dust, and what a wretched sinful crea­ture he is, and how much worse than other men, and how much he forgets the Humili­ation of the Son of God, who being in the Form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no re­putation, becoming obedient to the death of the Cross, how odious this lofty Spirit is in the sight of God, how amiable Humi­lity, how God detests the one, and embra­ces the other; how pride keeps out the operations and influences of God's Spirit, and how the Holy Ghost refuses to come and lodge in that Soul, that swells with vain conceits of its own worth; how pride keeps him a stranger to himself, how it makes [Page 265] his neighbor hate him, raises him enemies, and makes him an object of contempt and scorn; how all the gifts, and blessings, and privi­ledges he enjoyes, are but the effects of God's charity; how the stately Fabrick, which his Soul doth animate, must shortly re­turn to the earth, from which it was taken, what condescension God uses towards him, how God, who commands Heaven and Earth, becomes an humble suitor to his Creatures, and instead of consuming, courts them to yield to his requests, and injuncti­ons, how noble and generous it is to imi­tate him, who is eternally happy in himself, how in the Grave all distinctions dye, how unfit that person is to be a Christian, that is a stranger to meekness and humility, how those that have domineer'd in this World, and trampled upon Men, and have thought it their interest and glory, to despise their equals and inferiors, are now roaring in the burning Lake; and how they would now be contented to be the poorest, meanest, and most contemptible creatures in the World, provided, that they might be but freed from that never-dying Worm, that gnaws their Souls, and how shortly this pride and haughtiness, if not seriously, and timely repented of, will end in weeping and gnashing of Teeth. [Page 266] Were but these things rightly, and seriously ponder'd, it would cause a very strange al­teration in the lofty, censorious Man's de­signes and resolutions; but while these ob­servables are passed by, as things, out of his element, no marvel if he idolizes himself, and like a Hedgehog, wraps himself up in his own soft Down, and turns the Prickles to all the world besides.

Let the Soul, that's careless of God's ser­vice, and lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, but try it, and reflect, Lord! And is this a service fit for him, that is of purer Eyes, than to behold iniquity! Is this slovenly De­votion a sit Present for him, who searches the Hearts and the Reins? should my Ser­vants serve me as I do God, how ill should I resent it! and dare I offer the blind, and the lame to God, which I would scorn to accept of from my Slaves and Vassals! I would have my Prayers heard, and answer'd, but how can I hope they'l pass for accepta­ble sacrifices in Heaven, when they want the fire of the Sanctuary to give them Flame! will God mind a Supplication, in which I do not mind his Greatness, Majesty, and Holiness? or can I think God is so fond of answering my requests, that he matters not, with what frame of Heart I approach his Throne? when the Primitive Christians, that [Page 267] certainly knew best, what was to be done in order to Salvation, as having converse with the Disciples, and Apostles of our Lord, when they consecrated that time, when their spirits were most lively, to pious exer­cises, and look'd upon that Religion, as dead, that had not fervency for its ingre­dient, shall I hope to come off at a cheaper Rate? Is the King immortal, invisible, bles­sed for evermore, to be put off with the chips and shavings of Devotion? should not I give him the cream and marrow of my endeavours, that hath greater power over me, than my Master, my Father, or my Prince? so great a God, and so mean a Sa­crifice, so infinite a Majesty, and so pitti­ful a Present? How deliberate, how circum­spect am I in my addresses to my King, and is not God a greater Prince than he? what is my careless devotion, but mocking of God, and my drowzy Prayer, what is it but play­ing with him, at whose Presence the Moun­tains tremble? Am not I afraid of venge­ance, or can I think God will suffer a wretch, that lives upon his mercy, and makes no bet­ter return, go unpunished? How justly may he deny me his Grace and assistance, who do not seek it more earnestly? How justly may he say, Depart from me, I know thee not, who am so indifferent, whether I enjoy [Page 268] the light of his countenance or no? How just­ly may he refuse to be found by me, who seek him, as if his favour deserved no pains, or trouble? Strive, as it were for your lives, to enter in at the strait Gate, saith the Great Redeemer of Man, and is this taking the Kingdom of Heaven by force, when I look upon it as a thing, that may be had at any time, upon a Lord have mercy upon me? Is this wrestling and striving, when I suffer any outward worldly concern, though never so slight and trivial, to take me off from minding the great concern of my Soul! Is this giving all diligence, to make my calling and election sure, when I am infinitely more concerned, how to secure a small sum of Mo­ney, than I am to secure those Treasures, which fade not away? Will God give a re­ward, to Men, that stand yawning, and stretching themselves in his Vineyard, un­resolv'd, whether they shall work or no? A reward indeed they shall have, but such a reward, as hypocrites receive, a reward, from which Good Lord deliver us. And am I so stupified, that nothing of all this can move me, neither the Glory of God, nor the interest of my Soul, nor all that can be said against my want of Zeal, and fervency of Spirit?

[Page 269]Were these reason laid home by serious consideration, it would rowze the Soul from her slumber, and make her see, how dange­rous her rest is, and how deer that sleep will cost her, she is for the present lull'd in, if it be not suddenly dispell'd and scatter'd; but want of consideration, makes the careless sinner fancy God such a one as himself, one that is pleas'd with his indifferency in Re­ligion, as well as himself; this is it makes him entertain very gross, absurd, and unreason­able conceits, concerning that all Wise, most Excellent, and most lovely Being, despise a Treasure of infinite, value trample on the pearl of price, and forget what the hope of God's calling is, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance is in the Saints.

Had the Covetous but a Heart to think with himself, vain foolish man! How loath am I to confess my self guilty of this vice? How do I deceive my self with the fair names of good Husbandry and Frugality? but will these delusions stand the fire? Will these Paper Walls be proof against everlast­ing burnings? if there be such a sin, as co­vetousness, and that sin so odious to God, and his Holy Angels, as Christ and his Apo­stles make it, and so great an impediment to everlasting happiness, as the Scripture repre­sents, it, it must needs be worth knowing, [Page 270] whether I am infected with this plague, espe­cially since my behaviour and actions look as if I were; why should the Apostle call this sin Idolatry, but because it makes men set their affections on the World, more than upon that which is to come, and more on their Riches, Estate, or Incomes; than upon God, and everlasting Glory, whereby God is robb'd of his Honor, and that high Esteem and Love which is God's due, as he is God, is given to be creature, which in Gods sight is Lighter than nothing, and vanity; and is not this my case? How is my Soul fix'd upon this World? How close doth my heart stick to the profits and advantages it affords? How is my Soul bound up with my Corn, and Wine; and Oyl? How do I fancy that all my happiness is gone, when these out­ward comforts are gone! Did sin ever grieve me a quarter so much as a temporal loss? Did offending a Gracious God, ever cost me the tenth part of the Tears, I shed for be­ing deprived of a little shining Clay? How hearty is my joy, under the blessings of Gods left hand? How little am I affected with the blessings of his right ? How far greater satisfaction doth my thriving in the world give me, than my thriving in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? How loath am I to honour God with [Page 271] my substance? How unwillingly, how grudgingly, do I part with any thing con­siderable, for Charitable uses? How loath am I to part with any of this worlds Goods, for Gods service? How happy do I count my self, when Religion doth cost me nothing? How loath am I to be any at charges for Hea­ven? How doth it grieve me, when I spend any thing upon Religion? How do I dote upon these sublunary vanities? How far great­er pains do I take to be rich, than to be hap­py for ever? How can I dispense with a sin for profits sake? How little of my desires and breathings, hath God and a bleeding Sa­viour? How dull am I under the most lively descriptions of the joys of Heaven? How dull under the stupendous offers of Grace and Mercy? How dead under the joyful message of pardon? How dull when tempted by all the ravishing arguments of Gods love, to love him above all? What means my un­willingness to take God for my greatest porti­on? What means that quickness, sagacity, and wisdom, when my, Riches, Plenty, or world­ly, prosperity is concerned, and that strange dumpishness, when God courts and beseeches my Soul to lay hold on Eternal Life? Are not these evident signs, that the World draws and attracts my Heart most power­fully? God sees my Heart is not upright [Page 272] with him, he sees I am afraid to take up with him alone; he sees how covetousness hath possess'd my Soul, and can I cherish this root of an evil in my Breast, and not tremble at the danger my Soul is in? Am I by the Apostles verdict, an Idolater, and do I make light of so great a guilt? if no Ido­later must expect a Crown of Glory, alas! what can I look for but Eternal Darkness? when I read, that it's easier for a Camel to enter through the eye of a Needle, than for a rich man, who sets his heart on his Riches, to enter into Heaven, am not I frighted with the expression? I find how this sin de­prives me of a Holy communion with God, and shall I loose my greatest comfort and support, and satisfaction for it? If any man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him; and can I be contented without the love of God? if God be not my friend, what doth the friendship of the whole World signify; When my Soul must leave this Tabernacle, and appear before Gods Barr, O God, I shall have so many witnes­ses against me, that I shall not know what to say, or whether to betake my self for re­fuge; the Poor will accuse me, because I have not open'd my Hand and Heart to them; my own Conscience will accuse me, because I have not been a good Steward of [Page 273] the means God gave me; the Ministers of God will accuse me, because whatever was laid out upon my, Pride and Lust, was thought too little; and the least, kindness I shew'd to those that wait at Gods Altar, too much; The Devils will accuse me, be­cause, having a Soul so great, so noble, so pre­cious, I did employ it chiefly in scraping a little Dross, and Dung together, nay, the Lord Jesus will accuse me, because his ex­ample of contentedness, and Heavenly mind­edness, would not allure me into imitation; God will accuse me, because having furnish'd me with all the motives, and encourage­ments imaginable, to mind Heaven more than Earth, I preferr'd this Earth before all the joyes of Heaven; and how shall I bear up under all this weight?

Would the poor deluded Worldling but let such thoughts sink into his Heart, what a damp would it strike on his strong de­sires after the World, and how would it make his immoderate love to these subluna­ry Riches, break into longings after a nobler Inheritance? but neglecting this, he Serpent-like feeds on Dust, and prepares for anxie­ty, discontent, and vexation of Spirit, and for a miserable death, like a Hog, lies, root­ing in the Earth, and buries his Soul in a Chest of Money, despises all admonitions to, [Page 274] Charity; and like the Smiths Dog, can hear the hammering and beating of his Master, and endure the sparks flying about his ears, without being stirr'd or concern'd at it.

Hypocrisie is a sin, which the painted Chri­stian does not easily part withal, yet would he reflect, like a person that hates to sow pil­lows under his own Elbows; can I read Christ's discourses against the Pharisees, and not ask my own heart, whether the Pharisees temper be an emblem of my complexi­on? Have I no self-end in any Religious Duty? What is it puts me many times up­on doing good, applause from Men, or the love of God? Do not I pretend God's Glo­ry sometimes, when I aim at nothing but mine own? Do not I draw nigh to God with my Lips, when in my heart and con­versation I deny him? Do not I by pretend­ing to please God, neglect my Duty to my neighbor? Am not I more severe in pressing the lesser concerns of Religion, than I am in urging the greater? Doe not I commend that in a rich or great man, which I can re­prehend in my inferiors, or meaner persons? Do not I require those Duties of other men, which my self am loath to practise? Do not I applaud my self for my own sanctity, while I despise others, whom I fancy not so Holy as I am? Am not I more curious to know [Page 275] other mens conditions than mine own? Am not I more zealous in publick, than I am in private? Am not I Religious for filthy lucre's sake? Do not I make a gain of Godliness, and use Religion as a cloak, to cover my secret sins? Do not I make Devotion a scaffold to erect my own credit and profit by? What is hypocrisie, if this be not? Though I can hide it from the sight of Men, can I conceal it from him, who knows my down-sitting, and my up-rising, and understands my thoughts afar off? Can I remember the fate of Judas, and not think of a serious repen­tance? Can I hear the Son of God call so of­ten, Woe, Woe, to ye Hypocrites, and hug the sin in my bosom? Shall I harbor a Snake there, which will sting me into endless gnaw­ings of Conscience? How shortly will all these delusions be discover'd? Before I am a few days older, God may summon me, and lay open all my deceits and juglings in Religion; Do I think to blind the Eyes of him, in whose Book all my Members are set down? Is the portion of Hypocrites no discouragement? What promise in the Gospel can I lay hold of, during this condition? They all run to the upright in heart, and must I go without these Cordials? Must I see others run away with these Treasures, while my self can ex­pect nothing but Gods curse and anger? [Page 276] Must I see others go to possess the Promis'd Land, while I must stay behind in a Wilder­ness! Must I see others gather Manna, and feed upon the rich clusters of Canaan, while my own Soul must perish for want of that Bread of Life! Lord! who shall abide in thy Tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy Holy Hill? He that walks uprightly, and works righteous­ness, and speaks the Truth in his Heart. And must I have no seat in yonder Mansion? No House in that Jerusalem which is above? No habitation in that City, which hath foundations, whose Maker and Build­er is God? O my Soul, stay not here in Me­sheck, dwell no longer in the Tents of Ke­dar: Away, and hate this Garment spotted by the Flesh.

Such serious thoughts would check Hypocrisie, but the vain man hardens his Heart against them, locks them out, will give them no entertainment, and that makes him serve God to please the Devil, and turn Religion into a meer shew, and formality, burn in Words, and freeze in Deeds, and like that Son in the Gospel, say I goe Sir, but he goes not.

From the Premisses, we may easily guess what to think of other sins, viz. that the great cause of them, is want of considera­tion, and therefore the Holy Ghost, likens [Page 277] men that live in any sin, or indulge them­selves in any transgression, to a Horse that rushes into the Battel, and considers not what he doth, ventures among Swords and Arrows, and the greatest dangers, without recollecting, what will be the issue of it. Jer. 8.6. Consideration is the Bridle, that must govern our sense and appetite, take that away, and the Beast runs away with the Rider, and hastens him into a thousand inconveniences.

CHAP. VI. Of the various advantages of serious conside­ration; it's that, which makes a man master of all Christian Duties; it helps a man to improve sublunary Objects into Heavenly Contemplations. It's the greatest support un­der afflictions; disposes a man to be a wor­thy receiver of the Lords Supper: Prepares him for an Angelical Life on Earth; makes him prudent and discreet in Secular affairs, and businesses.

THough in the preceding Chapters, we have already, in a great measure dis­cover'd what Men may hope for from Con­sideration, and of what use it is to a truly, se­rious, and Christian life; yet we must not leave so rich a subject thus, without giving an account of some other positive advan­tages, which do render it very desirable to a rational man; And

1. It hath most certainly a very great in­fluence upon all Christian Duties; whatever qualification Christ, or his Apostles require, or recommend it's by consideration of the excellency, and dignity of that Duty, that Men must expect to arrive to it.

[Page 279]The first and great Commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and will all thy Soul, and with all thy mind. But he shall never be master of this Duty, that doth not frequently and seriously consider the immense and stupendous love of God to him, and indeed then I may hope to be ac­quainted with a sincere, and cordial love to God, when I give leave to such conside­rations as these, to impregnate my under­standing. O my God, can I think of so great, so holy, so infinite, so merciful, so munifi­cent a Being, and forbear to be enamour'd with thee? whence are all my Mercies but from thee? thou art the Spring, the Foun­tain of them all. Whatever Blessings are con­vey'd to me by the hands of Second Cau­ses, they come originally from thee, and thou mov'st and order'st those Second Cau­ses, to come in to my assistance. By thee have I been upheld ever since I was born; when I lay in the shades of nothing, thou didst awake me into a Being, gavest me a rational Soul, a Soul capable of admiring, adoring, and worshiping thee, and ever since thy mer­cies have follow'd me, and thou hast been a pillar of a Cloud unto me by day, and a pillar of Fire by night; what Parts, Gifts, or Abilities I have, they are thy Gifts and Characters of thy Compassion. Thou or­der'st [Page 280] my steps, thou art about my bed, and about my paths, and dost preserve me in all my ways; many a time should I have stum­bled, and fallen, and perish'd irrcoverably, but that thou hast supported me, and given charge to thy Holy Angels, to be my Guar­dians. O my God! how often have I de­serv'd thine anger? and yet in the midst of thy wrath, thou thinkest upon mercy. What judgements mightst not thou have inflicted on me for my wilful sins? but thou hast sent none as yet, and all to magnify thy mercy: every morning thy mercies are renew'd up­on me, and with the natural there rises upon me the Sun of righteousness, with healing un­der his wings. Thou prosper'st my endea­vours, givest success to all my lawful un­dertakings, thou preserv'st me from those disasters which befall other men. How wise­ly dost thou order my affairs? How often dost thou bring light out of darkness, and turnest my affliction into the greatest joy? How wonderufl are thy Providences to me and mine? How often have I fear'd such an accident would be my ruine, and God hath turn'd it into the greatest good? How wisely hast thou many times denied me tem­poral mercies, because thou hadst a mind to enrich me with spiritual Blessings in Heaven­ly places? What Friends, what Benefactors [Page 281] hast thou rais'd me? How miraculously hast thou turn'd the hearts of Men many times into mercy and compassion for my good? How often hast thou heard my Prayer, and granted me the request of my Lips? When I have been in the greatest straits, how hast thou shewn me a way to escape? How strangely hast thou wheel'd things about for my deliverance? How hast thou allur'd me by the various tokens of thy Love, to love thee better than the World? How great hath been thy care of my temporal concerns, but how far greater thy care of the weigh­ty concerns of my Soul? How strong have been the convictions thou hast vouchsaf­ed me? How great the light thou hast im­parted to me? How bright that know­ledge thou hast revealed to me? How nu­merous the checks of my own conscience which thou hast sent me? How frequent the motions of thy spirit thou hast shed into my Soul? How often hast thou reason'd the case, and expostulated with me, and as the Angel did to Balaam, stood in a narrow way, where there was no turning, neither to the right nor to the left, and all because thou wouldst not have me stand out any longer against thy most Gracious offers of Salvation? How hast thou adjur'd me by the bowels of Jesus, by the wounds and agonies of the [Page 282] Son of God, to dye unto sin, and to live un­to righteousness? How strange hath been thy condescension, and doth not all this de­serve my love? Is not here enough to warm my affections towards thee? False, stubborn heart! What canst thou plead for thy averse­ness from God, after such a prospect of his favours? Notwithstanding my long con­tempt of these loving kindnesses of the Lord, I am alive yet, and on this side Hell? How may I stand amazed at this prodigious long suffering of my God? Had any man but shewn me the ten thousandth part of that love, which God hath manifested to me, how should I love him? how should I adore his Name? How should I study to please him? What pains should I take to manifest my gratitude? How should I revere his me­mory? How should I speak of his favours? How should I praise his munificence? Can mans kindnesses be so prevalent, and shall not the goodness of God fire my Soul into a practical love to his Name? Can I do less than love him, to whom I owe all I have? To love him is my happiness, my interest, my greatest felicity; O my God, shall I love a little shining Clay, a little Dust, a little Earth, and not love thee, who art worth more than ten thousand worlds? Shall I love Fa­ther and Mother, and not love thee, who [Page 283] hast been better to me than my Parents, and when my Father and Mother have for­saken me, hast taken me up, and with everlasting kindness visited me? Shall I love my Friend, and shall not I love thee my Joy, my Treasure, my Hiding-place? But how can I love thee, except I keep thy Comman­dments? How can I be thy Friend, except I doe whatsoever thou commandest me? Shall I love thee in words only, who hast loved me in Deeds? Shall I flatter thee with my Lips, and hate thee in my Heart? Shall I (Judas like,) kiss thee, and betray thee? love thee, and love my sins, which are thy greatest enemies? did I but love thee as I do a dear friend, how easy would all thy Precepts seem? How little reason should I have to complain of the tediousness of thy Yoak? What great, what noble, what gene­rous actions would thy love put me upon? Should I pretend to love my Prince, and affront his Law, how soon would my love be accused of a lye? How can I be said to love thee, while I hate to conform my self to thy Will and Pleasure? How vain will my love appear in the last day, if it hath been a stranger to obedience here? The Angels love thee, and they have no other way to demonstrate their Love, but by run­ning at thy commands? Doe I hope to be [Page 284] like unto the Angels of God hereafter, and shall not I take pattern by their obedienti­al love, while I sojourn here! O my God, thou art the proper object of my love; I rob thee of thy Honour, and commit Sacriledge, if I love any thing here below better than thee I am married to thee, and I must love nothing above thee. When no eye pittied me, to have compassion upon me, when I was cast into the open field, to the loathing of my Person, Ezek. 16.5, 6, 7, 8. thou didst pass by me, and sawest me polluted in mine own Bloud, and saidst unto me when I was in my Bloud, Live; thou didst cause me to multi­ply as the bud of the field, and when it was the time of Love, thou didst spread thy skirt over me, and coveredst my na­kedness, and swearest unto me, and entredst into a Covenant with me, and I became thine, and shall my Soul be married to so great a Prince, and play the Harlot? O my Lord, hast thou united me so close unto thee, and shall I defile my self, by setting my love on trifles? What Man, what Devil can hurt me, while I love thee, without whose com­mand no creature dares stir or move? What should discourage me from loving thee, when I have all the promises of the Bible to prompt me to it? If I loose in this World by loving thee, hast not thou Treasures enough to re­compence [Page 285] my losses? If men despise me for loving thee, hast not thou Honour and Glo­ry enough to crown me withal? If I do not thrive in outward Riches, by loving thee; hast not thou who art rich in mercy, a pearl of price to bestow upon me when this life is ended? I'll trust thee, O my God, and when my lusts invite me to act like a Beast I'll obey thee, and strive to be perfect as thou art perfect; when Men entice me to sin, I'll hearken to thee, and venture the disgrace or injury they can inflict upon me; when the World tempts me to be careless of my Salvation, I'll follow thee, and work out my Salvation, with fear and with trem­bling. Thus I'll manifest to the World, that thou art dearer to me, than all that's great, or rich, or glorious in the World.

Delight in God, is a Duty as necessary as the former, but how is it possible I should ever arrive to it, without I summon my Soul by consideration, to take a view of the Glory and Beauty which sparkles in that amiable Being; I shall quickly feel my Heart in another temper, than ordinarily I do, if I bespeak it in such language as this, De­light in God! O my Soul, canst thou name that charming name of God, and feel no joy, no gladness in thy affections? Is God so dull an object that it cannot stirr, or rouze thee [Page 286] from thy Lethargy? where dost thou see a more lovely Being? survey the World, where is there so ravishing an object? Can there be a lovelier Being, than he, from whom what­ever is beautiful in Men or Angels flowes? How beautiful must he be, to whom all these inferior Beauties owe their Being? If the streams be so lovely, what must the water in the Fountain be? Alas! what is the Sun, but a dark Lanthorn, in comparison of God? What is all the light our Eyes behold, but a rush Candle to him that is the Father of Lights? Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the Sun, Eccl. 11.7. Indeed whatever is rich, and to be admired in objects, would signify nothing to us without light, and if created light be so delightful, O God, how amiable must thou be, who dwellest in a Light inacces­sible! If the Sun, and Moon, and Stars de­serve my delight, how more justly may the Great Creator of all these, challenge it, whose Glory doth infinitely transcend all the little twinklings, and radiations, which shine in sublunary objects! O my God, were thy Beauty view'd, as it shines in the works of Creation, as it sparkles in thy wise ordering and management of the World, as it bla­zes in the redemption of Mankind, as it glisters in Regeneration of the Soul, as it [Page 287] dazles the eye in the glorification of a sin­ner, how lovely wouldst thou appear? And since neither thy Being nor thy Works are in vain, since what thou art, and what thou doest, must needs be for some certain end; what can I conclude, but that thou disco­ver'st so much Beauty and Splendor, and Glory to poor Mortals, because we should rejoyce, and delight in thee, and be ravish­ed with thee? O my Soul, without this de­light in God, thou canst never be happy; God is thy adequate Object, and thy Center, and he alone can give thee rest, and except he fills, and satisfyeth thy powers, they'l be forced, like Noah's Dove, to flutter and flye up and down, wander in a desart, and loose themselves in a barren Wilderness. When thou delight'st in God thou art at rest, and thy rest declares thy happiness. How canst thou hope thy Religious exercises will be ac­cepted in Heaven, while thou know'st not what this Holy delight doth mean? The Heathens guess'd at the acceptance of their Sacrifices, by the chearful burning of the Fire upon the Altar; The greater thy delight is in God, the stronger Argument thou hast, that thy Devotion meets with applause and approbation in Heaven. Variety is strange­ly delightful to thee here on Earth, and why then hath God so little of thy delight? [Page 288] though God be but one, yet in that one God are so many pleasant objects, that wert thou to live here a thousand years, in this one God thou might'st every day meet with fresh objects of delight, with this God, thou art to be ravish'd to all eternity, and then sure, there is variety enough in him to revive, and recreate thee for a few years in this present World. Survey all his blessed Attri­butes, his Holiness, his Omnipresence, his Omniscience, his Immutability, his Immen­sity, his Wisdom and Eternity; survey his Goodness to Mankind, his Perfection, his All sufficiency, his Willingness to advance Man to the enjoyment of that Glory, which the blessed Angels do possess; survey his Re­velations, his Manifestations of himself to this dark ignorant World; his Statutes, and Judgements, and Laws, and the Reasonable­ness, and Equity of them all; survey his va­rious Dispensations under the Old and New Testament, his Methods of converting Men, and the various degrees whereby he hath proceeded in the reformation of the wretch­ed Progeny of Adam; survey his wonderful love in Christ Jesus, and his pitty and com­passion to Rebels, to Traitors, to his greatest Enemies; survey the benefits and advanta­ges, which arise from Christs Passion, Resur­rection, Ascension, Intercession. Survey his [Page 289] Promises and Threat'nings, his mercy to the penitent, his justice to the unbelieving sin­ner; Survey his mercies both publique and private, both Spiritual and Temporal, and his various favours to all Mankind, to thy fellow Christians, to thy Relations, and thy self; Survey the priviledges he allows to those that fear him how he gives them leave to call upon him, answers them when they call, per­mits them to call themselves his Children, his Darlings, his Favourites, his Jewels, his Friends, and the apple of his Eye; Survey the Glory which God receives from all his creatures, in that all conspire to fulfil his Will; Survey the Joy, the Glory, the Happi­ness, the Triumph, the Songs, the Halelu­jah's which he hath designed for his Servants, whereof they have a taste here, and which e're long they shall enter upon, to their Eter­nal content and satisfaction. O my Soul, who can express all the pleasing objects, which are in this Glorious God thou dost adore?

Vast Ocean of Delight! How can my Soul be weary of Delighting in thee? where every object is of a multiplying Nature, and the farther I goe, the more charms I meet withal; every Beam, every Ray that darts from thy Throne, every work of thy Pow­er (and Oh how infinite is the number of them!) administers Delight. And sure, he [Page 290] deserves to be starv'd, that may come to those Waters of Life, and is invited to par­ticipatte of this Milk and Honey, and to de­light his Soul in fatness, preferrs the stolen waters of sin, before these living Waters, which like those in the Aesculapian Well, are not capable of putrifaction.

Look O my Soul, look with pity on the poor distracted World, that delights in things hellish, and sinful, worldly, mean, and trivi­al, they dream they eat and drink, and are at a great Feast, but in the morning when they wake, they find themselves empty. A rational complacency in God, is Angels food, this is the meat thou must live upon for ever; thou delightst in a curious Picture, why not in him that's altogether lovely? Thou de­lightest in a delicate shape, why not in him that's fairer than the Children of Men? Thou delightest in a pleasant Garden, in well-or­dered Walks, in flowry Meadows; why not in him, whose Gracious Presence, can make a Dungeon a Paradise? Hoise up thy Sails O my Soul, let thy desires crave all that's rich, good, and magnificent; why, in God thou hast it all, in a most eminent manner; while others delight in their plenty, thou canst delight in him, who is plenteous in mer­cy unto all them that call upon him, while others delight in knowledge, thou canst de­light [Page 291] in him, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom; while others delight in the pro­tection of their friends, thou canst delight in him, who is a present help in the time of trouble; while others delight in a stately Seat, thou canst delight in the Secret place, and in the shadow of the Almighty. O my God, thou satisfiest the hungry Soul, and fillest the thirsty Soul with goodness. They that cannot delight in thee, have strange brutish Souls! they see not how thou goest, how thou my God goest in the Sanctuary; they never felt thy Holy influences; they know not, what peace thou speakest unto thy People, they are not sensible how thou dost encourage those that serve thee; they are not sensible how great the rewards are, thou hast laid up for Men, that forget what is behind them, and seek first thy Kingdom, and its righteousness. O my God I see, how all the pleasant things of the World perish, but thou art the same, and thy years doe not fail, and thou endurest from one gene­ration to another; here therefore I'll fix my delight; on this Rock I'll build my joy; while others delight in numbring their bags, I'll delight in numbring the loving kindnesses of my God; while others delight in their pre­ferment, I'll delight in being adopted into the glorious liberty of Gods Children; while [Page 292] others delight in the greatness of their Rela­tions, I'll delight in having the great Savi­our of the World, for my Elder Brother; while others delight in their Farms, and Oxen, I'll delight in my Title to the Tree of Life; while others delight in Kingdoms and Principalities, I'll delight in him who hath made me a King and Priest unto God, and to his Father; I will delight my self in the Lord, and he shall give me the desires of my heart, Psal. 37.4.

Did the man, who is almost perswaded into Charity, but seriously consider, what a stress the Gospel lays upon this Pious libe­rality; how Christ in the last day is resolv'd to insist more upon this Duty, than upon any other; how he is but a Steward of those blessings he enjoyes; and how God gave him that Estate, he hath, with this very in­tent, that he should be beneficial to those whom providence hath made objects of his Bounty; how great an impediment his ex­tream fondness of this worlds Goods, is to his future happiness; how it darkens his Graces, clouds his Comforts, hardens, his Heart, fears his Conscience, enslaves him to the Devil; how difficult, nay, how impossi­ble it is, for a man that dotes on these out­ward Comforts, to become a true Disciple of Christ; with what earnestness all the [Page 293] Prophets and Apostles of old, have recom­mended this honouring of God with our Substance, and with the First Fruits of our Increase; how kindly God hath declared himself to this Duty; how great Gods con­descension is in being willing to accept of that, as done to himself, which is done to his servants, or Christs distressed Members; how signally he blesses this Virtue, how all Faith is dead without it, how vainly that man hopes for Heaven, that hath no bowels of compas­sion; I say, would the man, that is unresolv'd whither he shall deny himself, and give away considerably to Pious uses, but ponder all these arguments, by the assistance of God, it would make him resolve to lay by such a portion of all his gain, and in-comes for Gods service, and keep to it, and stop his ears against all the suggestions of the Devil to the contrary, and resign himself entirely to God's Providence, and leave it to God, how, and when, and where to make him amends for it, and believe that it will most certainly be recompenc'd to him in the resurrection of the just.

Meekness in so great a Duty of the Gos­pel, that Christ makes it the distinguishing character of his Disciples, and indeed, none is more likely to arrive to it, than he that makes it his business to consider how famous [Page 294] some of the Heathens were for this Virtue, how unworthy of a Christian it is to do less, with all the helps of Grace, than the other, by the assistance of Nature only; how this is to have the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus; what mischiefs sudden anger hurries men into, how severely the Great Redeemer of the World checks his Disci­ples, that call for fire from Heaven to consume the Men, who had denied their Master Lodging; how great the conquest is to subdue those passions, which would en­gage us to wrath and fury; how discreetly that man can act, that curbs those unruly af­fections; how this excellent quality adorns the Gospel of our Saviour; how it disposes Men for a satisfactory discharge of their Du­ty towards God; how great evils and incon­veniences it prevents; how many times it melts the offender, if there be any ingenui­ty in him, and wins more upon him, than all the fierce proceedings we call use; how great a preparative it is for a good name, and how Men who understand what self-con­quest means, cannot but commend, and ce­lebrate it; how Heaven cannot but applaud it, to see men strive to be perfect, as their Father in Heaven is perfect; how great wis­dom it argues, to be zealous in Gods cause, when his Glory is affronted, and meek in [Page 295] our own concerns, and injuries; what peace, what satisfaction it causes in the Soul, what blessings are entail'd upon it; how comfort­ably those, who have endeavour'd to be ma­sters of this temper, may leave this World, and dye, as the Jews say of Moses, the meekest of men, at the kiss of God into Eternal Glory.

Sanctification of the Lords day, or which is all one, consecrating that day to Gods service, or spending it in publick and pri­vate Religious exercises, in meditating, hear­ing the Word, praising of God, good Works, and Spiritual Conferences, is a thing which devout Christians have in all ages, thought themselves obliged to observe; and certain­ly he will find great reason to follow them, that shall engage his Soul seriously to con­sider some such circumstances as these. How Holy is this day! How should my Soul rejoyce at the dawning of it? this is the day which the Lord hath made, and which is to put me in mind of the greatest mercy that was ever vouchsafed to Man­kind; Can there be any thing more costly than the redemption of Man? or can I spend too much time in commemorating so glorious a Favour? when God allows me six dayes in the week, to follow the business of my lawful Calling, cannot I allow one day [Page 296] entire for his service? Are the concerns of my Soul so trivial, that they do not deserve one day in the week? or is Salvation so ea­sy a thing, that to spend much time in the contrivance of it, is altogether needless? I can allow a whole day, sometimes two or three for the recreation of my Body, and must my Soul have none, to feast it self up­on God, and endless Glory? Alas! how lit­tle do those flashes of contemplating God in the week days, which are so often in­terrupted by worldly businesses, warm the Soul? how little are mens affections wrought upon by those sits of Devotion, except they take a whole day to warm their Souls at the beams of the Sun of Righteousness? Alas! How little seriousness doe I see in those Families, where this day is not Religi­ously spent, where every person is permitted to use their liberty, and where the publick Exercises in the Church, are not seconded by private Discourses, and Prayers and Cele­brations of the goodness of God? where is my self-denial, if I cannot deny my self in my worldly discourses, or thoughts one day? how can I hope my Spiritual wants, and ne­cessities should ever be discover'd to me, ex­cept I do in my closet apply, what I have heard in the House of God, and water the incorruptible Seed that is sown in my Heart, [Page 297] by self-examination, that it may grow and sprout, and bear Fruit? O the joy, the com­fort, the satisfaction I might reap from the sincere sanctification of this day! how qui­etly might I lye down at night, after so sweet a converse with God all day? how soft would my rest be, having worked in God's Vineyard so many hours? how joyfully might I rise next morning, and comfort my self with the happy remembrance of the bles­sings, my Soul hath receiv'd the day before? Thus to observe, and to improve this day, would be a Prologue to my everlasting rest, a Preface to my Eternal repose in Abraham's bosom; a Presage that I should e'r long rest from all Tears, and sorrow, and pain, and anguish, and from all the temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and be admitted into the Quire of Angels, to praise him day and night, who lives for ever and ever.

In this manner all other Duties may be compass'd, the Beauty, Glory, usefulness of them thus spread, before the Understanding, Will, and Affections, are apt to work upon these Faculties, and they being prevail'd upon, the Eyes, the Ears, the Hands, the Feet will quickly do their part, and shew their readiness to obey the commands of their su­perior Officers.

[Page 298]II. It helps men to improve external ob­jects, into very comfortable contemplations. When I take a view of the Sun, and Moon, and Stars, or reflect on the Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, Consideration may furnish me with very excellent Truths, and the noblest Lessons of Religion. Consideration can me­tamorphose objects, and spiritualize them, and find out the secret designs of the Almighty, in those Creatures, which the sensual man looks upon, and like a Beast, passes by with­out any admiration; for after this manner it may argue, Take wings O my Soul, fly up to yonder Heaven, where the Almighty hath set a Tabernacle for the Sun, which is as a Bridegroom coming out of his Chamber, and rejoyces as a Giant to run his race; Behold how this glorious Planet, when he rises, re­vives every living thing with his kindly beams, and will not the increated Sun, from whom this bright star borrows his shining rays when he shall rise unto the Spirits of Men made perfect in the last day, fill them all with unspeakable joy and gladness; and as a dismal uncomfortable darkness succeds, when this created Sun doth leave our Hemisphere, so think how dreadful, how full of horror, and disconsolateness that darkness must be, which must unavoidably fall on wretched impeni­tent sinners, that would take no warning, [Page 299] when the increated Sun shall withdraw from them his beatifical Presence for ever: behold this created Sun, how many thousand kindnesses it bestowes upon Mankind, and doth not this put thee in mind of the Father of Lights, from whom every good and per­fect Gift descends? how much bigger is this shining Body, than the whole Earrh; and dost not thou remember, how before thy God, all Mankind are as Grashoppers, or ra­ther as the dust of the Ballance, nay, lighter than nothing, and vanity. The Sun, that he may enlighten the whole World, is for­ced to go from one place to another, but thy God, at one and the same time, without moving his station, can fill Heaven and Earth with his Glory.

Behold, O my Soul, the next great Light, the Moon, which the nearer it approaches the Sun, the brighter it grows in that part, which looks toward Heaven, though it be­comes darker in that part, which looks to­wards the Earth, and when it is opposite to the Sun, looses all that brightness, it had in its conjunction with the Sun, and is only clouded in that part, which respects this lower World, and dost not thou see a very live­ly emblem of a converted, and an uncon­verted sinner in this luminary? Behold, the nearer thou approachest the Sun of Righte­ousness [Page 300] in purity and holiness, the greater luster, and the greater happiness thou receivest; the In­habitants of Heaven behold thy brightness and Innocence, and applaud it, though sen­sual Men, may be, think thee all darkness, all obscurity, because thou dost not wallow in Works of darkness with them; they, may be, look upon thee as mad and distracted, because thou art so busy, so earnest, so zea­lous to please thy God, and spendest so much time in praising, and magnifying, and glo­rifying of him; but those that dwell in yon­der Region of Light, and Bliss, know, that then, and not till then, thou art master of thy Reason, and dost act like a person that's capable of being, made partaker of the Di­vine Nature. On the other side, when thou turnest thy back upon God, walk'st oppo­site and contrary to him, whatever respect and credit thou may'st have from the World, God and his Holy Angels look upon thee as darkness; thy understanding, which is that part, which properly looks towards Heaven, looses all its brightness, and no marvel, for God alone can satisfy it, and he being gone that part must needs be perfect night, and no marvel, if upon this darkness, thy love runs altogether for the world, and thy affections are altogether carried out after the dross and Dung of this transitory Earth, if thy [Page 301] thoughts are all engaged about the World, all thy Speeches employ'd about the World, and thou becom'st Wise for the World, and loosest all thy wisdom for God, and for Sal­vation.

O my Soul, canst thou look upon the Sun and Moon, and not remember how differ­ently God deals with Triumphing Saints in Heaven, and his militant Church here on Earth? they enjoy a perpetual Sun-shine, we are allow'd no more but Moon-light; we see as it were, through a Glass darkly, they face to face; their light like that of the Sun, ne­ver lessens, ours like that of the Moon, is sometimes greater, sometimes less, and some­times we have none at all. How often doth the afflicted Beleever walk in darkness? God hides the Light of his countenance from him, and he is troubled: sometime he is all joy, by and by all darkness again; some­times he is like St. Paul, wrapt up into the third Heaven, sometimes like Men, that see God's wonders in the deep, he goes down again to the depths, and his Soul melts be­cause of trouble; how cleer are the appre­hensions sometimes, he hath of the love and mercy of God! and he seems to be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the depth and breadth of the love of God? how of­ten on the other side, is a vail drawn over [Page 302] all these bright Conceptions, and he grove­ling in the dust? What flouds of Consola­tion doth God sometimes pour out upon his Soul? whereas at other times those com­forts come down in drops, which use to come in showers; how great sometimes is his strength against temptations, how weak his courage at another? how chearfully sometime can he cry out, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me; how mourn­fully is he forced to express himself, at an­other? I, see a Law in my Members, warring against the Law of my Mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law of Sin?

Behold, O my Soul, the vast number of the Stars, and Lamps of Heaven, how wise, how powerful is that God that made them? who can look upon those curious Lights without admiring their Creator? Behold, they rise and goe down at his command, and do not fail one minute of their ap­pointed time; how should this teach thee obedience? how chearfully shouldst thou run at the command of thy God? these glori­ous Stars, though their number be vastly great, yet they never clash, or disagree one with another; how should this engage thee to unfeigned charity and peaceableness? how should this put thee upon promoting peace, and concord, and agreement among [Page 303] thy neighbors? and doe not these Stars put thee in mind, how e're long thou shalt shine as the Stars in the firmament for ever? Hap­py hour! Blessed day! when thou shalt be cloathed with splendor and immortatity, when thou shalt see night no more, and shalt need no candle, neither light of the Sun, but the Lord shall give thee light, and thou shalt reign with him for ever.

Come down lower, O my Soul, I have not done yet with Gods wonderful Works, re­flect upon the Air, in which all sensitive Creatures breathe, without this Air, the whole Creation would dye; it's this, that keeps Men and Beasts, and all Plants, and Herbs alive; and is not the Holy Spirit of God, O my Soul, the very same to thee, that the Air is to all creatures; without this spirit of God to enlighten, to move, and to direct thee, thou hast the name that thou li­vest, but thou art dead, it's this spirit, must give thee life, it's he that must warm thee into a practical Love to God; it's he must teach thee how to pray; it's he must help thy infirmities, and bear witness with thy Spirit, that thou art a Child of God; beg this rich gift at the hands of God, and thou shalt have it, seek it, and thou shalt find it, knock at Heaven Gate for it, and God will open, and grant thee thy hearts desire.

[Page 304]Behold, O my Soul, how vain and foolish these men are, that will not believe the Be­ing of Angels, or of Spirits, because they never saw any; can they see the Air, and why do not they question, whether there be such a thing as Air, or no? this Air supports all Creatures, so doth thy God much more; The Eyes of all do wait upon him, and he gives them their meat in due season, he opens his hand and fills the desire of every living thing Psal. 145.15, 16. When this Air yields to all gross Bodies, and lets them pass without opposi­tion, how doth it read to thee Lectures of Patience and Humility? in that flexibility thou mayst see the sinfulness of thy inexora­ble temper, the odiousness of thy revenge­ful desires, and reviling again, when thou art reviled, and giving the offender as good as he brings; the Air reproves thee when thou art deaf to all entreaties, to be recon­ciled to him, that hath injured thee, when thou wilt not yield to the humble suppli­cation of distressed creatures, and when thou opposest thy own humour to all the rational perswasions of wiser men, than thy self.

Look upon the Fire, 0 my Soul, and be­hold how differently it acts upon Bodies, it meets withal, how it consumes the Hay and Stubble, and cleanseth and purifies Gold and Silver; doest thou not see here, as [Page 305] in a Glass, how thy God destroys the work­ers of iniquity, and advances, and encrea­ses, and purifies the desires and affections of a devout and religious Soul! thou seest how hard and black Iron is, when it is not near the Fire, and how bright and tractable it becomes in the fire, and is not this the true picture of a sinner? while he is a stran­ger to the Law of God, he hardens his heart as Flint, and Adamant, no threatenings pierce him, no promises prevail with him, no judgements fright him, no providences move him, no mercies melt him, he feeds up­on Gods Blessings, as Swine do upon Acorns, without minding the hand that throws them down; he hears Sermons, but they awake him not, he is intreated, and he slights the invitation; he is reproved, and laughs at the reprehension; but when that Holy Fire, the love of God enters into his heart, how flexible, how tractable doth he grow: how doth the love of God constrain him to avoid sin, and to bid defiance to all the works of Darkness? he that before scorn'd to hear the glad tidings of the Gospel; how doth he now submit to Christs easy yoak? he that before thought such a duty unfit, and im­proper for a person of his quality, how cheerfully doth he now bow, and yield to it? he that before had a thousand excuses, [Page 306] why he could not do what Christ enjoyns him; how doth he now lay all those idle apologies by? he that before was churlish, becomes now affable and courteous; he that before was apt to be very angry at the least affront, now bears it more quietly; he that before put off the Eternal God with the meanest of his endeavours, now is willing to give him the fat and strength of his af­fections; he that before could hear Mini­sters call to him, and call again without ef­fect, now cries out, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? he that before could not be per­swaded to walk in the strait way, now runs in the way of God's Commandments. Blessed Fire which consumes not, but illu­minates, never suffers the heart to be har­den'd, but purifies it, doth not straiten the Soul, but elevates it; doth not clog it, but refines it; doth not confound it, but sublimes it; destroys the dross, but preserves the Gold, and burns away all unclean and inordinate passions, and all immoderate cares of this world, but raises the Soul above the world, and engages it to fly above those things, which serve only to fill mens hearts with an­guish and vexation.

Let this object rest a little, O my Soul, and look upon that Earth thou walkest on; this is the place our Bodies must necessarily [Page 307] rest in; but, when thou seest that center of of all heavy Bodies, forget not to think, who it is that is thy proper Center, and Resting-place; This is a groaning, bleeding, dying Saviour; think O my Soul, on So­lomon, what pains that Monarch took to find Rest for his Soul; He gave himself to Wine, laid hold on folly, made him great Works, built him Houses, planted him Vineyards, made him Gardens and Orchards, and planted trees in them of all kind of Fruits, got him Ser­vants and Maidens, procured great possessi­ons of great and small cattel, gather'd Silver and Gold, got him Men-singers, and Women-singers, and all the delight of the Sons of Men, and whatsoever his eyes desired, he kept it not from them. Eccl. 2, 3, 4. &c. He withheld not his heart from any joy, yet behold, when he looked on at the works his hand had wrought, he found it was nothing but vanity and vex­ation of Spirit, in all this his Soul found no rest, till it came to learn this great lesson, Fear God and keep his Commandements, and then Peace and rest did flow in upon his Soul with a Spring-tide. God is thy rest in­deed, O my Soul, and when thou canst hide thy self in the wounds of thy Great Re­deemer, then, then thou art safe, and the Gates of Hell are not able to prevail against thee.

[Page 308]Canst thou see how plentifully the Earth provides for Mankind, and forget what pro­vision God makes for thee, that thou may'st not miss of the Crown of Righteousness hereafter? and when thou seest how all things the Earth produces, praise their Creator in their way, and shew forth his Glory; canst thou be silent, or forbear to be perpetually extolling the goodness of that God, that hath given thee a tongue on purpose, to speak those praises, whereof other creatures make but a dumb shew? thou seest how this Earth produces Gold and Silver, and if this Earth be so Glorious, what will Heaven be? if the House which God vouchsafes to his enemies, be so splendid, what will his own Palace be, where none but himself and his Servants shall dwell for ever? if the out­ward Court be so magnificent, what must the Presence-Chamber of the King of Kings be? if Gold and and Silver by their glitter­ing, dazle the eyes of spectators here, what will the beatifical Presence of Almighty God doe, which is beyond all the shine and luster that Gold, and precious Stones afford?

From the Earth, 0 my Soul, launch out into the Waters, how useful are the Lessons, suggested to issue by this Element? canst thou look upon water, and not reflect on [Page 309] the grace of God, which hath appear'd to all men; how this washes the Souls of Believers from all filthiness, both of Flesh and Spirit; how it quenches the fire of sinful Lusts in men; how it takes away mens thirst, and greediness, after there sublunary comforts; how it cools the Soul under the greatest heat of misery; how it makes many of one mind, as the in­numerable Atomes of Flower goe together in water, to make up one loaf of Bread, and unites millions of Men, under one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold the Springs, and Fountains, which like Pearls, adorn the curious Fabrick of the Earth; canst thou call them Fountains, and doth not that name put thee in mind of the Fountain of life, the Fountain of Wisdom, the Fountain of living Waters, and the Fountain open'd for the House of Juda and Jerusalem, for Sin and for Uncleanness? doe but think what riches flow from that everlasting Spring! Thy God is the very Fountain of all Beings; in him, and to him, and through him are all things; he depends on no Causes, he hath need of no as­sistance, nothing can hurt him, but all things depend upon him; he is the beginning of all things, without a beginning, the end with­out end; the great Cause without a cause; infinite, unlimited, immense, and incompre­hensible: Refresh thy self, O my Soul, in [Page 310] this never-fading, and inexhaustible Foun­tain; admire him, serve him, love him, de­sire him, despise all other things in compari­son of him, for he alone can supply all thy wants and necessities, content thy affections here, and fill thee with everlasting comforts hereafter.

III. It wonderfully supports men under af­flictions, for our impatience lies in our minds, and when the disease begins, then its fit the cure should begin, but which way should the mind be cur'd, but by Consideration? it's this must answer all the objections that Flesh and Bloud suggest to the mind; it's this must silence all the arguments, which seem to justify our murmures against the dismal providence we meet withal, and the thoughts which cause our discontent, must be expell'd by thoughts of our demerits, and Gods justice; and without all peradven­ture, that man shall be able to bear his tri­bulation better, that thus reasons the case with himself, why art thou cast down, O my Soul, and why art thou so disquieted with­in me? hath thy God a hand in this affliction, or hath he not? if he hath not, where is his Providence? if he hath, why dost thou grumble? Doth not thy God know better, what is expedient for thee, than thy self? Is he all wise, and doth not he know what me­dicines [Page 311] are fittest for thee? thou art his crea­ture, and may not he do with his own what he pleases? thou hast sinn'd against him, and must not he correct thee? thou hast affront­ed him, and must not he use his Rod? thou hast forsaken him, and must not he shew his displeasure against thy ingratitude? dost not thou correct thy Child when he is stubborn? and dost thou let thy Servant goe without chiding, that doth neglect the business thou hast recommended to his care? may be, thou hast serv'd thy God, and led a sober life, but was it a life so blameless, that it had no defects, and must not those defects en­dure that fiery Tryal, that they may be burnt away? Hast thou receiv'd the good at the hand of the Lord, and shalt not thou receive the evil also? how long hath God spared thee, who might long ago have pour­ed out the vials of his wrath upon thee? hast not thou reason to thank him for cha­stising thee, but now, who might have done it much sooner? Alas! why shouldst thou think he doth thee wrong, by sending this cross upon thee, who hast deserved no less than damnation? are not Rods gentler than Scorpions? and drops of Gods anger more tolerable, than flouds of his displeasure? thou art in pain, but what is this to Hell-fire? thou art in torments, but what is this [Page 312] to the Agonies, the unhappy Spirits in the burning Lake endure? how great a mercy is it, that it is not worse with thee? The Waters of Marah which are but to the Ancles now, how soon might God increase them to the Knees, and make them a River that could not be pass'd over? and he that doth but frown now, how easily might he thunder? Consider, O my Soul, thou art not call'd to Persecution, to Gibbets, to Fire, to the Sword, to Grid-irons, to wild Beasts, as the Martyrs of old were; if thou complainest now, what wouldst thou do, if thou wert call'd to Martyrdom? Look up­on Jesus, the Author, and Captain of thy Salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings; art thou better than the Son of God? look upon the Apostles, look upon the Primitive Saints that were torn assunder, stoned, slain with the Sword, wandred about in Sheep-skins, and Goat-skins, were desti­tute, tormented, afflicted, and art thou a greater Saint than they? why shouldst thou expect better dealing at Gods hands, than they? thou art not alone in misery, thou hast whole Armies of Holy Men to bear thee company; canst thou look upon yonder Heaven, and repine? canst thou behold that Glory, which God hath prepared for thee, and think much of these fiery Trials? [Page 313] the hopes of a Kingdom makes a Captive Prince merry, though he is in prison, and shall not the hopes of yonder joys, keep thy heart from sinking? when a Socrates can chearfully submit to the unjust Sentence of the Athenians, upon no other account but this, because it was God's will, shalt thou, who art a Christian, lye fretting at thy trou­ble, as if thou meanst to resist and con­troul God's will? wilt not thou give God leave to use that priviledge in his great House, the World, which every Peasant uses in his Cottage, and lay what burthens he pleases on his Servants? Shall he say, Suffer thou this affliction, and wilt thou answer with that ill-natur'd Son in the Gospel, I will not? Look O my Soul, look upon the benefit thou wilt receive by this providence; thou wast proud before, stay awhile, and this cala­mity makes thee humble; thou didst despise thy God before, have a little patience, and this trouble will drive thee hence to thy Fathers house; thou didst play with the bread thy Father gave thee, this cross will teach thee how to prize it; thou didst trust too much to thine own strength; this cala­mity will make thee relye altogether upon him, who hath promis'd not to leave us, nor forsake us; God knows what thou wantest, and how thy wants must be supplyed; He [Page 314] prosperity would undo thee; he there­fore takes it away, and, like a tender Father, cries, Do thy self no harm; He sees such a blessing would make thee surfeit; he there­fore wisely prevents thy disease by depri­ving thee of that mercy; He sees such a com­fort would be but a Knife, or Sword in thy hand, and kill thee; he therefore snatches it away, because he would preserve thee from Eternal ruine; he sees thou art too much in love with this world, he therefore embitters thy sweet morsels, to make thee weary of this barren wilderness, and in love with that Kingdom which fades not away, Dost thou blame a Physitian, because he gives his Pa­tient a bitter potion, and wilt thou blame thy God for not pleasuring thy pallate with dainties, which would encrease thy distem­per? wouldst thou followthy Saviour in Sun­shine only, and not go with him into the Gar­den of Gethsemane? wouldst thou inherit his Crown of Glory, without wearing his Crown of Thorns here? wouldst thou be with him on Mount Tabor only, and not accompany him to Golgotha? wouldst thou be about him on­ly, when he rides in triumph into Jerusalem, and forsake him in the Desart? wouldst thou follow him only while the loaves doe last, and abandon him when he wants bread for the multitude? wouldst thou own him only [Page 315] when men cry Hosanna, and run away from him, when they cry out Crucify him? wilt thou eat of the same Bread he doth, and not drink of his Cup too? God would save thee by that burthen which lies upon thee, and dost thou prefer a little froth before an Eternal weight of blessedness? hadst thou rather enjoy thy good things here, than lye with Lazarus in Abrahams bosom? God sees thou canst not be happy without this afflicti­on; and wilt thou prefer living deliciously for a few days, before the rich Banquet God hath prepar'd for his favourites in Paradise? O my Soul, its but a little while yet, and thy Prison will be changed into a Palace, thy Poverty into Eternal Riches, thy Bond­age into perfect Liberty, thy Persecution into endless Joys, thy mourning Songs into Halelujahs, thy Sorrow into Rivers of De­light. Alas! what is a Prison? God's Pre­sence can make it a Heaven, Walls cannot keep out the Smiles and Glory of the High­est; What is poverty? it may consist with being a Favourite of God; and he that hath nothing in this world to boast of, may have an incorruptible Crown to lay hold of, and be really richer, than the weakliest of Man­kind. What are slanders and reproaches? they cannot hurt the Soul, whatever inju­ry they only do the Body; they come some­times [Page 316] from Men, whose tongue is no slan­der, and this may consist with honour from God, and reputation in the Court of the Almighty: What is persecution? a Cloud, which soon passes away, and he that chear­fully endures it, great is his reward in Hea­ven. Despair not O my Soul, thou hast to deal with a God, who will lay no more up­on thee than thou art able to bear, but with the temptation will make a way to escape that thou mayst be able to bear it; one that doth not afflict the children of men willing­ly, one that will certainly, if thou obstruct not his operation by thy unbelief, cause all these troubles to work together for thy Eter­nal good.

May be thy troubles are altogether Spiri­tual, and thou dost not complain so much, because thou art destitute of outward conve­niences, as because thy God is departed from thee: a deep sense of thy sins afflicts thee, thou seest the wrath of God hovering over thee, and God hides his face from thee, thou art afraid, thou dost not belong to him, thou seest not thy former tokens, nor feel'st those Gracious influences, which formerly water'd and enriched all thy faculties; but hast thou such low conceits of the everlasting kindness of thy God, O my Soul! why shouldst thou believe he hath forsaken thee, when he doth [Page 317] give thee daily testimonies of his Love? what greater assurance, canst thou have of Gods love to thee, and of Christs kind thoughts towards thee, than thy weariness of sin? Hast not thou heard thy Saviour call, Come to me all ye that are weary and heavy loaden, and I will give ye rest? Art not thou weary of iniquity? hadst not thou rather be rid of that burthen than keep it? if thou art not heartily resolv'd to part with it, why dost thou complain? what makes thee cry out, O wretched creature that I am, who shall deli­ver me from the body of this death? what makes thee wish, that what thou hast done against God, were undone? what makes thee afraid of offending God? why dost thou weep? why dost thou watch against thy corrupti­ons? what makes thee angry with thy self for displeasing God? what makes thee breathe and pant after Christ, as the wounded Hart pants after the Water-brooks? what makes Christ so sweet, and sin so bitter to thee? what makes thee asham'd of looking up to Heaven? whence is it, that all the prefer­ment and riches of this World cannot tempt thee to sin wilfully? whence is it that thou delightest not in the company of sinners, but thy delight is chiefly in them that fear the Lord? If these be not signes of Grace, what character of mercy wouldst thou have? [Page 318] hath not thy God said, that he'l love those that do love him? if thou lov'st him not why art thou restless till thou enjoyest him? if thou lovest him not; why dost thou de­sire him? why art thou willing to follow him through misery, and the greatest trou­bles, to be forever with him? thou hast in­firmities to wrestle withal, but hath not thy God promis'd thee, that he'll bruise Satan under thy feet shortly? thou canst not to­tally master such a corruption, but dost not thou fight against it? thou meetest with temptations, but dost not thou grapple with them? Satan follows thee, but dost not thou resist him? thy Conscience terrifies thee, but hast not thou the Cross of Christ to fly to? if God had a mind to kill thee, would he have shewn thee all these things? if God were gone from thee, would not his Spirit be gone too? if thou hast not the Spirit of God, what mean thy longings after God? what means thy love to a Spiritual life? why dost thou pray so earnestly for the fruit of the Spirit? why art thou altogether for a clean Heart, and for renewing of a right Spirit within thee? are not these signs that Gods Spirit warms thy affections, and makes intercession for thee with groanings, which cannot be uttered? God seems to go away, that thou mayst cry more earnestly after him, [Page 319] and clouds his comforts, that thou mayst sue for them with greater importunity; he lets thee sink a little, that thou mayst cry with a louder voice, Lord save me, or else I pe­rish, and falls asleep in the Ship, that thou mayst take the greater pains to wake him. He sees thou grow'st weary of his favour, he therefore darkens it, that thou mayst be at some trouble to recover it, and having recover'd it, set a greater price upon't, he withdraws himself for awhile, that at his return, thy joy may be fuller, and bids his gracious influences stop awhile, that when they flow in upon thee again, they may fill all thy faculties with greater gladness; thou canst not perform thy Duties with that ala­crity and chearfulness thou desir'st; but hast not thou reason to bless God, that thou dost in good earnest desire to doe better? was Heaven purchas'd in a moment, or Sin conquer'd in an hour? is not the way to life a race, where men must run on till they reach the mark? Go on O my Soul, go on, the farther thou proceedest in Gods ways, the sweeter thou wilt find them; the more thou strivest, the more thou'lt conquer, and the oftner thou dost address thy self to God, the more thy dullness and weariness will vanish; and the more thou lookest upon the everlasting recompence, the greater mind [Page 320] thou wilt have to go on from strength to strength. O my Soul, hope in God, for I shall yet praise him; who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

IV. It disposes a man to be a worthy recei­ver of the Lords Supper, Indeed I doe not see how without it, a man can receive any be­nefit by that blessed Sacrament: for it be­ing an Ordinance designed, chiefly to im­pregnate the Soul with very strong longings, and breathings after a crucified Saviour, with a deep sense of the incomprehensible 1ove of God in Christ Jesus, and with earnest reso­lutions to love and to obey him, before all the dictates of Flesh and Bloud, and of our carnal Interest, it is not to be conceiv'd, which way the Soul should arrive to all this, without considering the end, nature and advantages of this Sacrament; and its pro­bable, a man may then be affected with this sublime mystery, when he rowzes his Soul some such way as this. Dost thou rightly un­derstand, O my Soul, what this great, and tremendous Ordinance means? Behold, thou art going to feast with that God, who stretch­es out the Heavens like a Curtain, and layes the beams of this chambers in the waters, and makes the clouds his chariot, and rideth upon the wings of the wind; What? Feast with so Glorious a God, and come without a [Page 321] Wedding-Garment? What? Sup with him, who dwelleth in the Heavens, and not purify thy self even as he is pure? Can two walk to­gether except they be agreed? what fellow­ship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with dark­ness? What concord hath Christ with Belial? What agreement hath the Temple of God with Idols? This is the great Ordinance, O my Soul, which must either promote thy everlasting happiness, or aggravate thy ever­lasting condemnation; how happy mayst thou be, if this Sacrament charms thee in­to a fervent love to thy dear Redeemer? but how wilt thou escape, if thou neglect so great a Salvation? Here are the greatest en­gagements, the greatest motives to a life, as becomes the Gospel of Christ; here God adjures thee, (to use the words of the Church) By Christs agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his death and burial, to bury thy unclean desires, and inordinate affecti­ons, and to dedicate thy self, and all thou hast to his service; Here is represented the greatest love that ever was vouchsafed to men; here the Son of God appears all bloudy to fright thee from thy sins; here Christ is as it were crucified before thine eyes, that looking upon him, whom thou hast pierc'd, Thou mayest mourn, as one that mourns for his [Page 322] onely Son. Here Christ appears laden with all the blessings of Heaven; here the ever­blessed Trinity seems to use its utmost en­deavours to perswade thee into a Heavenly conversation: here the desert of sin is dis­cover'd in the wounds and torments of an infinite God; and hither thou comest, O my Soul, to renew thy Baptismal vow; hither thou comest to enter into a solemn Covenant with God, and faithfully to promise him to resign thy self entirely to him; to fall out with him no more, to defile thy Garments no more, to dishonour, to betray him no more, to be faithful to him, to vindicate his Glory, to esteem his friends as thy friends, and his enemies as thy enemies, and to live up to those laws which he hath sealed with his own Bloud; to this end, thou eatest of his Bread, and drinkest of his Wine, and thus thou sealest the Covenant. Dost not thou remember, O my Soul, how the world Was lost by eating of the forbidden Tree? Behold, by eating of this Tree of Life, thou shalt be saved for ever; in the breaking of the consecrated Bread, thou seest, how Christs Body was broke for thee; in pouring out of the Hallow'd Wine, thou seest, how Christs Bloud was spilt for thee: when the Holy Bread is reach'd out to thee, thou seest Christ reaching out his crucified Body to thee, that [Page 323] thou mayest see in his hands the print of the nails, and put thy finger into the print of his nails, and thrust thine hand into his side, and shelter thy self under that wounded, and mangled Body, against the wrath and indig­nation of God. When the sacred Wine is given thee, thou seest how Christ offers thee his Bloud, for the remission of thy sins. canst thou behold so great a love, and not loose thy reason in the admiration of its great­ness? when thou seest such condescension, such kindness, such compassion, O canst thou forbear crying out; O my Lord! what do I see? what mean these longings of Al­mighty God after my happiness? what means this industry of that incomprehensible Be­ing, to be at all this charge, and pains, to make me blessed? God that might sport himself with my everlasting groans; what need he have cared, whether I were saved or no? God, Who can be happy without company, and needs no society but his own; whence is it that this mighty God humbles himself thus to dust and ashes, layes aside his Robes of Glory, and wooes me to be content to lye for ever in his Arms and Bo­som? would no other remedy serve turn to recover me, but the death of the Son of God? God, on whose Laws I have tramp­led, Whose Authority I have slighted, whose [Page 324] promises and threatenings I have underva­lued! that he should be thus concern'd for my welfare, and contrive how to advance me unto Glory, and contrive it, by such stu­pendious means too! will God suffer that I may not? will the Eternal dye, that I may not fall a prey to the second Death? will God be crown'd with Thorns, that I may wear an incorruptible Crown of Glory? will God be affronted, abus'd, and scorn'd, that I may inherit Glory and Honor, and immortality! what manner of love is this? where is the spring of it? what's the impul­sive cause of it? how full of miracles is every circumstance here? how pleasant is this con­templation? What! God love a little slime and earth? O my God! how wonderful is thy love? it is all Ocean; here is no shore to set my feet on! be astonish'd at it, O ye Heavens, and tremble O thou Earth: the Eternal, the Immense Creator of Hea­ven and Earth, stoops to a miserable creature! the God, who fills Heaven and Earth with his Presence, bows down to a poor inconsi­derable worm! he that sits on the circle of the Earth, and before whom all the Inha­bitants of the Earth are as Grashoppers, humbles himself to take notice of a poor forlorn wretch! Here is love indeed; Stay me with flaggons, comfort me with apples; my [Page 325] Head grows giddy with the Precipice: here is an abyss of Love, which I cannot fathom; my head swims at the sight of it, Sense can furnish me with nothing like it, I am si­lenc'd; here is a love answers all arguments, that are brought, for going on in sin. Help me, O thou blessed Spirit, Help me, O thou who art fairer than the Children of Men, Help me, thou who art all Love and Life, Help me to admire thy Love. In this Love are a thousand charms; in this Love are om­nipotent enforcives to love God above all the world. Run, O my Soul, run into this Banqueting-house, the Banner whereof is Love. Is it so, and must thou have perish'd and been undone for ever, if the Son of God had not come in the Flesh, and expiated thy crimes, and doth not that Almighty love, de­serve thy Love? see how the ambitious love the applause of men, and wilt not thou love him who is brighter than the Sun? see how the rich man is enamour'd with his stately Pallace, and canst not thou love him, who hath done that for thee, which no Friend, no Money, no Gold, no Silver could have purchas'd, viz. reconciled thee to an of­fended God? wilt thou slight this Love, and hope to go unpunish'd? wilt thou make this Love a refuge for wilful sins, and hope for the light of Christs countenance? will [Page 326] not he, who loved thee beyond all presi­dents and examples, double and treble his indignation upon thee; if this Love cannot melt thee into a truly Spiritual life? could the Devils but have such an offer, of being partakers of the love of Christ, how would they rejoyce and triumph, and Love, and Honour, and Obey their God again, as once they did when they were inhabitants of Heaven! and wilt thou beworse than a De­vil, and spurn at that Love, which Angels stand astonish'd at? were it thine own case, O my Sou!, wouldst not thou revenge such ingratitude with all the severity imaginable, and doom the wretch that should affront such condescension to the direst Flames? Be wise, O my Soul, and provoke not that God to swear in his wrath, that thou shalt never enter into his rest, who flees unto thee on the wings of mercy, to embrace thee; thou canst never have a more glorious sight of Gods love, on this side Heaven, than is discovered to thee in this Sacrament, and if ever thou wouldst be perswaded to resign thy self entirely to thy Blessed Redeemer, make his Will thy Will, and desire what he desires, and hate what he hates, and love what he loves; O come hither to the cross, and see the Son of God weeping for thy sins; come hither and see him sweat drops of [Page 327] Bloud for thy iniquities, and offering thee pardon and reconciliation, and peace with God, and access to the Throne of Grace, and union and communion with him, and if this be not enough a title to Eternal Hap­piness, or a right to that Throne, himself doth sit on.

But why so backward, O my Soul, to come to the Table of thy Lord, where thou mayst drink Wine and Milk without Money, and without Price, where thou mayst be sa­tisfied as with marrow and fatness, and eat of the living Bread, whereof whoever eats, shall live for ever? hast thou forgot the peremptory command of Christ, Do this in remembrance of me? Is this remembring thy dearest friend, to think of him solemnly but once or twice a year? shouldst not thou re­member him as often as thou hast an oppor­tunity? should thy Saviour remember thee no oftner than thou dost his death and pas­sion, how fearful would thy condition be? canst thou represent his Love too often to thy mind and affections? canst thou remem­ber thy sins that brought him to the Cross, too often? art thou afraid of thinking too much of this Love, and consequently of be­ing too Religious? art thou afraid of being too much enamoured with this Jesus? art thou afraid that the sight of his broken Body [Page 328] will break thy Heart too much? art thou afraid that the sight of his effused Bloud, will make thee pour out too many Tears and Prayers, and Praises of his Love? con­sidering how dull, how dead thou art, thou hadst need come frequently to the Cross, to have thy Affections suppled and softned with this precious Bloud: how frail is thy memory, and hadst not thou need of re­freshing it often, with the sight of Christs incomprehensible love? art thou afraid of renewing thy Repentance, thy Faith, thy Hope, thy Charity too often? The oftner thou dost resort to this blessed communion, the greater will be thy acquaintance with thy best of friends; the greater sense thou wilt get of the need, and want of him, the great­er encouragement thou wilt find, to imitate him in his Holiness, Meekness, Patience, and Humility; and the greater assurance thou wilt get of his Love and Favour, and Par­don, and everlasting Mercy; and are these Blessings to be scorn'd and undervalu'd? thou pretendest want of preparation, but whose fault is it that thou art not prepar'd? what can hinder thee from preparation, but love to sin? and shall love to a sensual care­less life, hinder thee from laying hold of the greatest Treasure? will this Plea hold, when thou shalt appear before the great Tribunal? [Page 329] O my Soul, this is to excuse sin by sin, and to despise God's Ordinance, because thou despisest his commands, and how will this aggravate thy folly one day, and fill thee with shame and horror! O play not with everlasting mercy, let not business hinder thee from advancing thy Spiritual, and Eternal interest; Remember what became of the men, that pretended they had Farms to see, and Oxen to try, and Wives to marry, when they were invited to the Supper of the Lamb; canst thou think of the protestati­on of the Master of the Feast, against these stubborn wretches, and not conclude thy fate by their being excluded from Gods Fa­vour forever? if it be a sense of thy own vile­ness, and unworthiness, that keeps thee away, thou mistakest, and misrepresentest the good­ness of thy Lord and Master. No persons more welcome at this Table, than the hum­ble and broken-hearted; none meet with a more favourable reception, than the poor in Spirit; these the Crucified Jesus prays for on his Cross, Father forgive them, and the everlasting Father hears, and saith to them, Be of good chear, your sins are forgiven you.

V. It prepares a man for an Angelical life here on Earth, for he that frequently consi­ders and contemplates the Joyes, the Tri­umphs, the Scepters, the Crowns, the Dia­dems [Page 330] of yonder Kingdom, the everlasting Love and Peace, and Satisfaction, which Angels, and glorified Saints enjoy, cannot but think himself, during that consideration, in Heaven, and participating of that con­tent and happiness, which is possessed by the general Assembly of the First-born, which are written in Heaven. Indeed this is to make Earth a Heaven, and to change this Wilderness into a Paradise, a Closet into the Seat of Glory, and a Desart into those Re­gions of Bliss and Happiness. How like an Angel may that Man live, that is often en­gaged in such considerations as these. Hea­ven! what do I hear? Heaven! the harbor of all laden and wearied Souls! Heaven! the end of all my sorrow and miseries! Heaven! the Port I have been sailing to these many years! Heaven! the inhe­ritance of those that keep themselves uspot­ted from the World! Heaven! the rest of Gods Servants, and the habitation of the Mourners in Sion! Heaven! the great mark of my Desires, the anchor of my Hope, the foundation of my Confidence! Heaven! the University, where we shall know, even as we are known? how undisturb'd, how quiet do all the Inhabitants of those blessed Mansions live! there rest those Saints, who were made as the filth of the World, and as [Page 331] the off-scouring of all things; how different are the thoughts of God, from those of the World? these men the world regarded not, behold, God remembers them, and when he makes up his Jewels, spares them, as a man would spare his own Son that serves him! There rests that Mary Magdalen, that stood behind Christ at his feet, weeping, and wash­ed his Feet with her Tears, and did wipe them with the hair of her Head, and kiss'd them, and anointed his Head with ointment. There rests that Lazarus, who desired to be fed with the crumbs, that fell from the rich mans Table. There rest that David, that made his Bed to swim, and water'd his Couch with his Tears. There rests all the Prophets of old, who through Faith, sub­dued Kingdoms, wrought Righteousness, ob­tain'd Promises, stopp'd the mouths of Lions, quench'd the violence of the Fire, escap'd the edge of the Sword, out of weakness were made strong, wax'd valiant in fight, turn'd to slight the Arms of the Aliens. There rest all those Souls, that look'd for the blessed hope, and the glori­ous appearance of their Saviour Jesus Christ. There rests all those Martyrs and Confessors, that were ready, not only to suffer, but to dye also, for the name of the Lord Jesus. There they rest, encircled with an Eternal [Page 332] calm. There they rest, incompass'd with an innumerable company of Angels. There they rest, surrounded with the Gracious Presence of a merciful God. There they rest from all the calumnies, and slanders of this poor envious world. There they rest from all Darkness, in Eternal Light, and in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness for­ever.

Awake, O my Soul, awake, advance in­to yonder regions of Glory, retire into yon­der Paradise, leave this world, and goe high­er; let thy thoughts transcend the Sun, and Moon, and Stars; get before the Throne of God; take a view of the still waters, where­of the vast Armies of Glorified Spirits drink, where they are, there are no Wolves, no Ty­gers, no Bears, no Lions, as in this barren wilderness; in those happy shades is no noise, but that of Halelujahs; no discontent, no War, no dissentions inhabit there; there all agree, there Ephraim is no more against Manasse, nor Manasse against Ephraim, nor they both against Juda, but all are delighted with the everlasting Glory and Love of God; there they hunger and thirst no more, Won­derful change! Here O my Saul, thou art e­ver thirsting after God, as the dry Land thirst­eth after water; there thou shalt be satisfied with him to all Eternity; here thou longest [Page 333] after the hidden Manna, there it will ne­ver be taken from thee; here, like Solomons Bride, by night on thy Bed thou seekest him, who is altogether lovely; there his Beauty and Presence will ravish thee for ever. Here, though thy desires after the Blessings of Gods left hand be subordinate to thy de­sires after spiritual Mercies, and thy esteem of God, preponderates, and is higher, than thy esteem of any outward felicities; yet, while so nearly allied to Sense, thou canst not so abandon Nature, as to have no long­ings at all after external comforts, and con­veniencies; but in Heaven, all perishing sub­lunary objects are forgotten, there those Friends and Relations, those Children, those Honours, those Riches, which too of­ten made too great an encroachment on thy Love, will be no attractives; there thou wilt be contented without Bread, satisfied without Drink, the want of Cloaths will not trouble thee, thou wilt have nobler friends, than Father, and Mother, and Brethren, and Sisters, to converse withal, nobler Food, than the Delicacies of this world; nobler attire, than Silk, or the softest Down can make; there will be no need of contriving how to get a livelyhood: Palaces will not tempt thee, Gardens will not entice thee, Gold will not dazle thee, the greatness of [Page 334] the world will affect thee no more than Pe­bles; the glittering Diamond will make no impressions on thee, and all thy wants and necessities, will be fully supplyed by an im­mortality of Joy, and Glory. Here the warm Sun of Prosperity makes thee sometimes for­get, and neglect the great work of thy Sal­vation, makes thee apt to grow weary of Fasting and Prayer, and mortification, and self-denial, and apt to yield unto Satans temptations, but there the tempter must tempt thee no more, he dares not fully those Christalline Walks with his steps, he dares not come near that Holy place, it's past his skill, how to incommode, or molest, a glorified Spirit. Here, often like Jonas, thou fittest rejoycing under the Gourd, or Vine, and while thou art solacing thy self, the Gourd withers, and the Sun scorches thy Body, and thou growest faint; there this annoyance will have an end, there thou wilt live above the Sun, and that which is now thy Ceiling, shall be then thy Foot­stool. On Earth, when Christ is pleased to communicate himself unto thee, its here a little, and there a little, and he gives thee but sprinklings of his Grace, for while thou art in this Tabernacle of Flesh, thou art not capacious enough to receive or enter­tain that stupendious Light in its full vertue, [Page 335] and Power, and Majesty, but when thy Ves­sel of Clay, thy Body shall be shatter'd into Dust, and Atomes, and thou shalt be freed from thy Prison, and live like thy self, all Understanding, all Intellect, all Spirits, the Sun that shines, in the highest Heavens, and irradiates the Throne of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, will then reveal himself to thee, in his full splendor and Glory, thine Eyes will then be strong enough to look upon that glorious, and immense Globe of Light, and thou shalt be like unto the An­gels of God: thy extravagant passions will then cease forever, thy grief, thy sorrows will have no admittance into those Seats of Bliss, thou'lt be refined then from all those turbulent motions, which do now so often discompose thy rest. Here the death of a near Relation, troubles thee, there thou wilt be above all trouble and vexation; here thine anger, like that of Moses, doth often wax hot, because thou seest thy God dishonoured, and his Commands trampled upon; there thou wilt see no such dismal sights; here a sin thou fallst into against thy will, makes thee wish for rivers of Tears, there thy grief will be buried in eternal ex­ultations, there thy passions will all be calm'd, and like water after a storm, look smooth, and quiet; there will be no disor­der [Page 336] in thy affections, but like a Quire of tune­able Voices, they'l meet in everlasting har­mony; there no affliction must come after thee. Here with Moses thy Body, may be thrown into the Water, with Joseph cast into prison, with Shadrach, Meschek, and Abednego, flung into a fiery Furnace, with Daniel hurried into a Lions Den, stoned with the Prophets, crucified with St. Peter, thrown down from a Precipice with St. James, cast into a Kettle of boyling Oil with St. John, thrust through with a Lance as St. Thomas, bound to a tree with St. Andrew, flead with S. Bartholomew, burnt with Polycarp, torn by wild Beasts with Ignatius, in all which afflictions thou canst not but sympathize with thy individual companion for it's, by thee, that thy Body feels the torments, it endures, but in that Heaven, that glorious Heaven, no Enemy can reach thee, no Devil fright thee, no storm surprize thee, no Monarch frown on thee, no sickness break thee, no distemper crush thee, no age waste thee, no danger shake thee, no Tyrant threaten thee, no Li­ons meet thee, no Tyger tear thee, no Sword pierce thee, no publick commotions startle thee, the Sun shall not light on thee, nor any heat, for thou art secure under the sha­dow of the Almighties wings for ever. The Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne [Page 337] shall feed thee by his everlasting saciety; here it is, A little while and you shall not see me, and again a little while and you shall see me; but there with open face, and without a glass, thou wilt look upon his Majesty for ever: here Christ comes, and departs, there he will never remove out of thy sight, there his everlasting love will support thee, there his kindness will be subject to Clouds and Eclipses no more, there thou wilt not be able to turn thy Eyes away from him. This is that Lamb, that will give thee to drink of his everlasting Springs, Springs which can never be drawn dry; Springs, which can no more decay, than the Son of God decays; he is the everlasting Fountain of Delight, and in this Fountain, thou shalt bathe and recreate thy self forever, his Attributes, his Kingdom, his Beauty, shall charm and ravish thee for ever; there thou shalt be in an everlasting extasie of joy, there thou wilt not need to cry out with St. Bernard, Hold Lord, for my heart is not able to contain those joys, which thou dost so liberally pour out upon me; that everlasting Fountain of joy and content, and satisfaction, shall both fill and enable thee to bear, that fulness of joy and light, which shall then appear unto thee; the remem­brance of Christs merits, and benefits, and what Christ hath done for thee, will then [Page 338] transport thee into everlasting Praises and Celebrations of his Goodness, Songs as end­less as thy duration will be. The Rivers that water that Garden of God, shall be a perpetuum mobile, running and flowing to all Eternity. In this Paradise are living, no standing waters; when millions of ages are past, thy Glory shall be still green, and lively, and after many thousands of years, thy happiness, like Aaron's Rod, shall bud and blossom, and bear Fruit. O my Soul, when that inexhaustible Fountain fades, then, and not till then, need'st thou be afraid, that thy delights will fade; there God will put an end to all thy Tears; what Rhetorick can reach the favour? the Tears thou didst shed for sin, the Tears which a deep sense of thy Spiritual poverty did force from thee, the Tears which Tribulation and Anguish did command from thine Eyes, these will all then be wash'd away.

How amiable are thy Tabernacles, Lord God of Hosts? my Soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the Courts of the Lord? my Heart and my Flesh cryeth out for the living God, when shall I come to appear before thee? when shall I shake off this clogg of the flesh, and praise thee day and night in thy Temple? when shall I be freed from this Earth and Dross, and do thy Will, O my God, without Lett, or Interruption?

[Page 339]O my Soul! dost thou believe such a Hea­ven, where no good shall be absent, and canst thou be hunting after the husks, and empty shells of sensual pleasure? how little do the Inhabitants of that New Jerusalem mind the pomp and grandeur of this world? they have nobler objects to mind, and more delightful employments to take up their minds and thoughts: didst thou live more in this Heaven, O my Soul, how wouldst thou look down upon this Earth, as an in­considerable trifle? how little wouldst thou regard, what man can do unto thee? how con­tentedly mightst thou part with all that the world counts dear and precious, for Christ his sake, as knowing, that there is laid up for thee the Crown of Righteousness, which the Righteous Judge will give to thee one day, and not only to thee, but to all those that love his appearance? Look upon the Pri­mitive Martyrs, O my Soul, they broyled in Flames, but loo'kd upon that Heaven, and smiled. St. Stephen hath a thousand Stones flying about his Ears, but looks upon that Heaven, and the Glory of God appears up­on his face. Abraham sojourns in the Land of Promise, as in a strange Countrey, dwel­ling in Tabernacles with Isaac, and Jacob, but looks for a City which hath founda­tion, and goes on triumphing. Moses suffers [Page 340] affiiction with the people of God, but hath respect unto the recompence of reward, and esteems the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the Treasures of Egypt. The Apo­stles are scourged, and beaten for the testi­mony of Jesus, but look upon this Heaven, and depart from the Council, rejoycing, be­cause they were counted worthy to suffer for the Name of the Lord Jesus. St. Paul, five times of the Jews receives forty stripes save one, thrice is he beaten with rods, once he is stoned, thrice he suffers shipwrack, a night and a day he is in the deep, in journeyings often, in cold, and nakedness; but what ails the Man? he sings, his heart dances for joy, under all these troubles. O my Soul, he saw, he saw, that his light affliction which was but for a moment, would work for him, a far more exceeding, and eternal weight of Glory.

O my God, give me but my portion in this Heaven, and I desire no more; Come what will come, Sword, Fire, Imprisonment, Hunger, Thirst, Nakedness, Disgrace, Re­proach, Perils by Sea, and Perils by Land, Enemies, Devils, Friends, Poverty, Sickness, Exile, &c. Here is a Jewel, will counter­ballance all. O give me but a room in that great House, made without hands, Eter­nal [Page 341] in the Heavens, and then cut, burn, tor­ture, and afflict, let storms, and tempests come, I'll fight against them with my Title to that Inheritance, which fades not away: this shall quench all the fiery Darts of the Devil, this shall bear up my Head above water, this shall hush all my discontented thoughts; this shall be my refuge in a storm, my hiding place in flames, my portion in po­verty, my pillow in great anguish, my liber­ty in prison, my cordial in temptations, my Elixir in a swound, my prop when I stumble, my Laurel when it thunders, my Rock in persecution, my Safeguard in destruction, my Light in the midst of darkness, my Goshen in this Egypt, my Ship under the fiercest Bil­lows, my Shield, when I am assaulted, my Helmet when I am in danger, my encourage­ment when I do resist, my Crown when I con­quer, my Manna in the Wilderness, my Food in the Desart, my Rose to smell to in a Dun­geon, my Guide in my journey, my Pole­Star in my voyage, my Staff in my Pilgri­mage, my Song in my misery, my All, when Death and Hell conspire unto my ruine.

VI. It makes a man prudent and discreet in secular affairs and businesses. Consideration, as it is a very great improvement of Mans Reason, so it cannot but be very useful to him, in governing his secular affairs with di­scretion. [Page 342] Consideration makes a man master of his Reason, and that man must needs act more wisely, that hath his reason at command, than he that makes it a slave to e­very flattering passion; and since it is confes­sed, that the fear of God hath that influ­ence upon all humane affairs, that it dispo­ses a man to a wise and prudential manage­ment of them; Consideration must of ne­cessity be of the same Virtue, and Efficacy, for this fear of God is the immediate product of Consideration. I deny not, but men wise in Spiritual, are not always so in Temporal concerns, for either their scrupu­lous Consciences, or fear of having their hearts carried out too much after the world, or their giving themselves wholly to Hea­venly employments, may make them care­less and unmindful of things belonging to this world, but still in its nature and tenden­cy, this circumspection in things, which con­cern a Christians Soul, is able to shed wis­dom and discretion, into his carriage and behaviour to things which appertain to this present life; hence, from a man who seri­ously considers he hath a Soul to be saved, you may expect great order in his Family, a prudent foresight of dangers, and a mode­rate care to shun them, great temper in dis­course, and exact justice in his dealings, [Page 343] and rendring to all their Dues, Tribute to whom Tribute is due, Custom to whom Custom, Fear to whom Fear, Honor to whom Honor; as the Apostle's phrase is, Rom. 13. 7.

In all probability it was the attentive consideration of his Spiritual concerns, that made David both valiant and prudent in matters, as he is call'd 1 Sam. 16. 18. and to what can we ascribe Joseph's and Daniel's di­screet Government of themselves, and their secular affairs, but to that Piety and Good­ness, which by long and serious considerati­on they had setled in their Breasts. When [...] mans wayes please the Lord, he makes even his very enemies to be at peace with him, i. e. He doth not only by an extraordinary provi­dence, turn their hearts towards him, but infuses wisdom and discretion into his Soul, so to behave himself towards his enemies, that they cannot but bury their hatred, and return to their former friendship, and civi­lity, Prov. 16. 7. He that considers his ways with reference to his Eternal state and con­dition, his ways cannot but please the Lord, and such wisdom, if he stand not in his own light, will surely fall to his share, and here­of we need no other proof, but common experience.

The man, who truly minds his everlast­ing interest, and so considers the account: [Page 344] he must give to God, when this life is end­ed, as to provide for that great and dread­ful Audit, thinks himself obliged to use what cautiousness he can, that he may not wrong his God, his Soul, and his Neighbor; and this cautiousness cannot but make him pru­dent in his Secular Vocation; hence such a man hath commonly his Wife, Children, and Servants, in better order than other men, and mingles that sweetness and kind­ness, with his gravity or severity, that they may have encouragement to love him, and dread offending a far greater Master in Hea­ven; there is not that discontent, that emu­lation, that ill language, that backbiting, that luxury, that extravagance, that tumult in such a mans Family, as is to be observed in Houses, where little of God and Eternity is regarded. Such a person spends in his house no more but what is decent, and conveni­ent, and so provides for those of his own Houshold, as not to forget doing good to the Levite, and to the Widow, and to the Fatherless; his Speech is commonly with Grace, seasoned with Salt, full of meekness and gravity, and therefore less offensive, and he takes heed that it may not be laid to his charge, that he hath bestow'd more to feed his pride, and luxury, than Christs distressed members; and in publick affairs, or places [Page 345] of great Trust, such a man as minds first Heaven and then Earth, usually discovers far greater wisdom, in management of State affairs, than those who first mind Earth, and Heaven, when they have nothing else to do; for his Principles lead him so to carry him­self to man, as not to affront his God, and to advise his King to nothing, but what is truly great, and glorious, and beneficial for the Realm he governs: and as a Prince may confide in such a person, more than in a sen­sual Man, so he hath reason to believe, that all things will prosper better in his hand, than in the others, because he first seeks the Ho­nour of God, and then the happiness of his King, and the Honour of that Nation, he is a member of; which is a thing so pleasing to God, that there is nothing more fre­quent with him, than to bless such honest endeavours, and to crown them with success, and prosperity.

And certainly he that can consider, how to keep himself from the everlasting evil, may with greater ease, prevent temporal mischief, and danger, which depend upon the imprudence of his actions; he that can row against the Stream, may with greater facility row with it; he that can chearfully goe up the Hill, will find no great difficulty in going down, he that can do that, which [Page 346] his Nature hath more than ordinary aversi­on from,, may more easily doe that which his nature hath a strong byass and inclina­tion to: and he whose mind will serve him to turn away the ever-burning wrath of Al­mighty God, cannot want judgement and prudence to prevent the wrath and anger of those men he converses withal: and he that can by serious consideration, make sure of a Seat in Heaven, cannot want power to consider, how to manage the Estate God hath given him in this world, to Gods Glory, and his neighbors good: and though men that are very considerate in their Soul con­cerns, doe not always use that prudence we have mention'd in the concerns of this pre­sent world; yet it is sufficient, that if they will make use of that light, and those argu­ments, which their reason thus improved by consideration, doth furnish them withal, they may most certainly arrive to this wisdom, and discretion in secular concerns and busi­nesses, which we have been speaking of. In­deed it's very rational, that he that exerci­ses his reason much, and examines the nature, ends, causes, circumstances and consequences of things, as he must do, that seriously con­siders the things that belong unto his ever­lasting peace, should arrive to more than ordinary wisdom in other things, and that [Page 347] he that's prudent in the greater, should be able to proceed prudentially in lesser mat­ters; that he who is faithful in much, should be faithful in a little also; and that he who is just in the true Riches, should be very just in the Mammon of unrighteousness too, as we read, Luk. 16. 10, 11.

CHAP. VII. A pathetical Exhortation to men, who are yet strangers to a serious, religious life, to con­sider their ways; wilfulness of their neglect, how dangerous it is; How inexcusa­ble they are, how inhumane to God, and their own Souls; How reasonable God's requests are, and how justly God may turn that power of consideration, he hath gi­ven them, into blindness, and hardness of heart, since they make so ill a use of it, &c.

ANd now Reader, whoever thou art, that doest yet wallow, or allow thy self in any known sin, and art not sincerely re­solved to close with the terms of Christs Eternal Gospel, let me adjure thee, by the mer­cies of God, not to reject, or superciliously [Page 348] to despise, what here we have propos'd. As thou art a man, and owest civility to all creatures, that have the signature of man upon them, be but so kind and civil to this Discourse, as to allow it some serious thoughts. Either thou hast a rational Soul, or thou hast not; if thou hast, let me en­treat thee, by the Bowels of Jesus, to con­sider, whether this present world be all the Sphere that God intended it should move in; If it be not, and if how to secure the hap­piness of the world to come, be the chief thing, this thy Soul is designed for, why wilt thou frustrate God in his expectation? why wilt thou goe contrary to all creatures, and not prosecute the end, for which thy Soul was made, and shed into thy Body. That there is such a thing as a life to come, and an Eternity of joy and torment; the one promised to a strict and Heavenly con­versation, the other threaten'd, to a loose and careless, or sensual life, cannot be call'd into question by him, that shall impartially reflect upon the premisses: it's certain, the things which concern that other life, are not discover'd by our sences, and therefore thou canst not hope to be affected with them that way. It's thy reason only that can, and must apprehend that future state, and so apprehend it as to work upon thy af­fections: [Page 349] But which way is it possible thy reason should so apprehend it, as to fright thee from thy evil courses, except it be im­prov'd by consideration? Sinner, I do here, in the presence of God, conjure thee by all that's Good, and Holy, by the interest, and welfare of thine own Soul, by all the Laws of self-interest, by the Revelations of the Son of God, by all that God ever did for Mankind, by that love which transcends the understandings of Men and Angels, by the groans of those miserable Souls, which are now in Hell, by all the joys of Paradice, by the testimony of thine own conscience, by all the motions of God's Spirit in thy Heart, by all the mercies thou dost receive from Heaven, by that allegiance thou owest to God, by that Faithfulness, thou owest to thine own Soul; I do most seriously con­jure thee to tell me, whether thou art not able to consider the evil of thy courses, the beauty of Gods ways, and the sad con­sequences of sensuality; thou deniest thy own Being, deniest Gods Favour to thy Soul, deniest the Glory of thy Creation, de­niest the most visible, and the most apparent thing in the world, if thou deniest thy abi­lity in this point, and if thou art able to consider so much, what injustice can it be in God, to demand an account of this con­sideration? [Page 350] wherein doth he do thee an injury, if he doth ask what thou hast done with this power? wert thou in Gods stead, wouldst not thou require the same account of thy servant, on whom thou hadst bestow'd such a Talent? if thou art able, and wilt not take thy faithfulness into serious con­sideration, can there be any thing more just in the world, than thy damnation? how ea­sy were it for thee to lay home the danger thou art in, and seeing it is so easy, how just is it with God to let thee perish in that dan­ger thou art resolv'd, in despight of all Gods endeavours to the contrary, to fall and sink into? O Christian, how dreadful will it be for thee, when Christ shall depart from thee, with this doleful exclamation; How often would I have gathered thee, as a Hen doth ga­ther her Chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not? wouldst not? This is it, that makes thy everlasting torments just. O Sin­ner, that God should invite thee to Hea­ven, and thou put him off with this answer, I will not! that God should carress thee to become his Darling, and thou voluntarily, and freely, list thy self in the Catalogue of the Devils favourites and votaries! that God should leave no means untried, to melt thy stuborn heart, and thou desperately fight a­gainst his Heaven! and when he would thrust [Page 351] thee into it, violently to break loose from him, and lay force upon damnation! How inexcusable will this make thee? What Man, what Angel, can, or dares plead for thee. af­ter such horrid wilfulness? by it thou shutst up all mens compassion against thee; were thy error an infirmity, or had invincible ignorance caused thy folly, some or other possibly might be moved to speak in favour of thy concerns, but that thou knowing the will of God, and having power to think, what the end of thy courses will be, and power to avoid the danger, and power to pray for help, a gracious God to encou­rage thee, a glorious reward to entice thee, Eternity to fright thee, the everlasting gulph to startle thee, shouldst in despight of all these motives, wilfully and maliciously shun thine own cure! this is a malady, which no crea­ture can justly shed a Tear, or frame an apo­logy for. Be astonish'd, O ye Heavens, and tremble O thou Earth! ye Angels that re­joyce at a sinners conversion here on Earth; O all ye that pass by, behold and see, whe­ther there be a sorrow, as such a sinners sor­row is? We have read of men that have eaten their enemies, of Monsters that have devour'd their own Children, but here is one devours himself; inhumane to a pro­digy! one that contrives how to shut himself [Page 352] out of Heaven, plots how to undermine his everlasting Salvation, and studies how to sink into the dungeon of desperation.

Sirs, what is it, that we are exhorting you unto? is it to dig down Mountains? is it to exhaust the Sea? is it to pull down the Sun from his Orb? is it to reverse the course of Nature? is it to work miracles? is it to un­hinge the Earth, or to stop the flux and re­flux of the Ocean? one would think by the earnestness, and vehemency of expressions we are forced to use, that it must be something beyond the power of man: but no, all that we keep this stir for, is only, that you would consent to be happy, contrive how to in­herit an incorruptible Crown, and think se­riously how to escape your own torment; and needs there any intreaty for this? one would think you should run to us, break down the doors of our Habitations, pull us out of our studies, interrupt us, though we were never so busy, and importune us, as that Widdow did the Judge, and follow us day and night to be satisfied; the thing is of that importance; And O, did you but believe an Eternity, you would do so. Be­lieve? why what should hinder you from believing it? what arguments can you de­sire that you have not? can there be any thing surer than the word of God? can [Page 353] there be a greater witness, than the Son of God? God cannot deceive you, he cannot impose upon you, he cannot delude you, dare to believe him: though you have not look'd into Hell, yet certainly there's one, though you have not seen the joys above, yet such joys there are, and to consider, to study, to ponder how to arrive to them is the great thing we press upon you, as be­ing sensible of your danger, sensible that death will arrest you, before you are aware of it, sensible that many thou­sands are for ever miserable for neglect­ing such exhortations. O Sirs, we do not envy your worldly happiness, we dare assure you, that it is not any grugde, we have against your prosperity, that makes us put you in mind of these unwelcome Lessons; we have a God calling upon us, to stop you in your earnestness for the world, woe to us, if we give you no warning! woe to you if you take no warning! If making provisi­on for the Flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, would make you happy, if rioting and drunk­enness, chambering and wantonness, and roul­ing in all the pleasures, that your flesh does promise, and your fancy pay, could con­tribute any thing to your felicity if sola­cing your selves in the wanton streams of sensual delights, would lead you into Pa­radise [Page 354] we promise you, we would not mo­lest or disturb you in your ways; nay if you had not Souls to be saved, did your Spirits dye with your Bodies, we would not stint you in your jollities; But oh, can we read how the wrath of God is revealed from Hea­ven against all ungodliness, and unrighte­ousness of Men, and see you fall a prey to that indignation? Can we read how tribula­tion and anguish shall certainly fall upon every Soul that doth evil, and not speak to you to prevent it? Can we read, how the Lord Jesus will e'r long, come from Hea­ven in flames of Fire, to take vengeance of those who have continued to disobey his Gospel, and to punish them with everlast­ing destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his power, and not call to you, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand? Can we read how the unprofitable Servant, that made no use of his Talent, but buried it under ground, and would not watch, or make himself ready to meet his Master, shall be thrown into outward darkness, where there is howling and gnashing of Teeth, and not beg of you to trim your Lamps, and arise from the dead, that Christ may give you Light? Can we remember how many millions lye now roar­ing under the fears and terrors of their own [Page 355] Consciences in another world, that would not be perswaded to part with their Dar­ling, bosome sins; till death tore them away from them, and not testify unto you, least you also come into that place of torment? Can we see you stand upon the brink of de­struction, and be so cruel, as not to acquaint you with the bottomless gulph thats under­neath? Would you have us to be as tyran­nical to you, as you are to your own Souls? Or would you have us leap into everlasting burnings with you, for not reclaiming you from venturing into that fire?

Sirs, what is it that doth discourage you from a sincere consideratiori of your Spiritu­al condition? What are you afraid of? Why doe you loiter? Why doe you deliberate whether ye shall or no? Why doe ye dis­pute the case? Why doe ye stand musing? What hinders you? Is there any impediment that you may not remove, if you will? Had you been but a quarter of an hour in Hell, would not you call all those men sots, and fools, that now excuse their wilful neglect of this work? Would not you see the va­nity of their pretences? Would not you confess, that all those pretended cloggs are meer cobwebs, which may be broke through with the greatest ease? Would you be frighted from this duty by any tem­poral [Page 356] losses, as now you are? Are you afraid men will laugh at you for being serious? Had not you better be laugh'd at here, than be scorn'd by God, and his Holy Angels to all Eternity? Had not you better be jeered here, than have the great King of Heaven laugh at your endless calamity, and mock when your everlasting fears do come upon you? If a fool laughs at you, do you re­gard it? and why should you regard such mens scorn any more, than the laughter of fools? Alas! they are distempered in their brains, they see not the things which belong to their peace, they know not what Reli­gion means! Will any man give over the study of Divinity, or Law, or Physick, be­cause the ignorant Peasant sneers at him? Will a Tradesman leave his Calling, be­cause such a man makes Songs and Ballads upon't? if you are perswaded that Conside­ration, and looking after your Spiritual con­cerns, is the way to real happiness, Will you be miserable, because another man would not have you to be happy? Will that man who laughs at you for despising the world, save you harmless at the day of Judgement? Will he bail you out, when Gods thunder shall break out upon all dis­obedient sinners? Will he undertake for you, when God will be abused and mocked [Page 357] no longer, and the day of his wrath doth come? Will he be your Advocate, when you shall have your Consciences pleading against you? Alas, poor forlorn wretches! he will not be able to answer for himself, how then should he plead your cause? and if he can do you no service, cannot secure you against the anger of the Almighty, why will you be perswaded by the anger or displeasure of a man, though never so great and powerful, to omit that, on which your Eternal welfare doth depend?

Sinner, as light as thou makest now of this serious reflexion on thy Spiritual con­cerns, thou must consider them one time or other, if thou wilt not here, God will force thee to do it in Hell, whether thou wilt or no: here consideration may do good, but there it will but aggravate thy torments; here it may snatch thee like a brand out of the fire, there it will increase thy flames; here it may be a means to enlighten thee, there it will be a means to confound thee forever. Proud, self-conceited man, who canst find no time for serious consideration here! in Hell thou wilt have time enough, and O how many sad hours will it cause to consider, how thou hast mispent thy time, how thou hast flung away so many precious hours, up­on thy unlawful pleasures, how thou hast de­rided [Page 358] such a Sermon, harden'd thy Heart upon such a discourse, slighted Gods moti­ons to repentance, smother'd the checks of thine own conscience, preferr'd the World before Heaven, obey'd Man more than thy Creator, suffer'd every trivial outward re­spect, to call thee away from Devotion, mistrusted Gods Providence, taken his name in vain, laugh'd at the wholsome Counsels of thy Parents and Teachers, despised thy neighbors, censur'd, their actions more than thy own, taken thy fill of sin, been weary of following Christ, backward to any thing that's good, delighted with nothing but vani­ty and folly, dishonoured God, disgraced Re­ligion, exposed it to contempt and scorn, drawn others into vice, laugh'd Men into folly, dragg'd them into Hell, murther'd their Souls as well as thine own, neglected thy Prayers, disregarded the Poor, oppressed the needy, been greedy after the World, and undervalu'd the pains and cost, God did be­stow to entice thee to enter into his Rest! At this time thou'lt be forc'd to consider, how great a blessing thou hast refus'd, what comfort thou hast depriv'd thy self of, what a wise course those took, that would not be perswaded by the vain careless world, to cast Gods Law behind them; but alas! these con­siderations will then be too late; time was [Page 359] when thou mightst have consider'd the odi­ousness of sin, and turn'd from thy evil ways; time was, when thou mightst have consi­der'd the absolute necessity of despising the world, and dedicated thy Self, thy Children, thy Life and Wealth to Gods service; time was, when thou mightst have considered, that Gods Mercy and Patience did lead thee to Repentance, and so have turn'd to God with all thy heart, and this had been to secure Gods Favour, and to enter thy name in the Book of Life; but in Hell, such thoughts do but gnaw and sting thee more, there they doe but augment thy sorrow, and in­dignation against thyself, there they do but make thee weary of thy life, and the worst of it is, , that there thou canst not be rid of these considerations, they'l come into thy mind against thy will: here thou didst take pains to keep them out, there thou canst not hinder them from burthening, and oppres­sing thy Soul; here business and mirth di­verted them, there thou canst not shake them off, with all the industry and labour thou canst use; thou needst no accuser there, these considerations will be sufficient witnesses a­gainst thee, there, there thou'lt wish, O that I had believ'd the Preachers of the Word! I find those men were in the right, I find they saw more than I did, I find they were [Page 360] not mistaken; if I had follow'd their advice, I had built my House upon a Rock, I find they spoke no more but reason, I find they exhorted me to nothing but what was safe, and beneficial to my Soul. Forgive me, ye Men of God, pardon my contempt of your Zeal and Fervency; O send some Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; if your Prayers, if your Tears, if your Entreaties, if your Inter­cessions can prevail with God, O help, help, for I perish in this gulph; Plead with your God, sollicite for me at the Throne of Grace double, treble your cryes and sup­plications; try whether God will have mer­cy on me, who have had no mercy on my self, I am frighted, I am troubled on every side, I would stab my self and cannot, dye and must not, escape and dare not; pity, pity a poor miserable worm! will none re­lieve me? doe all forsake me? doe Men and Angels leave me? is there no body to speak comfort to me? is there no door for Conso­lation open? are all the avenues to mercy shut? Hear, hear ye Inhabitants of Heaven! are you deaf to my groans? are you grown strangers to compassion? where is your wont­ed clemency? will no repentance touch the Heart of God? will no sorrow move him? will no anguish melt him? where is that [Page 361] Joshua that prayed for the Suns standing still, and it stood still in the midst of Heaven? hath he no Prayer left to stop my calamity, and to give a truce to my torments? where is that Elijah, that pray'd, that there might be no rain, and there came no rain, for three years, and six months? and cannot he pray that this fire may goe out?

A thousand such cries will then be in vain; Consideration now would most certainly prevent those cryes; this would represent the groans of those wretches in that dismal prison, in such lively characters to thy mind, that thou wouldst be restless, till thou didst get into the strait-way, that leads to life, and art not thou ready to embrace it? what Fiend, what Enemy, what Devil, what Charm quenches the fire of thy resolutions? Dost thou own God for thy Creator and Gover­nor, one that hath greater reason to com­mand thee, than thy Prince, or Master, or Parents, and dost thou refuse to obey him? Dost thou believe, that what ever is in man, and can challenge obedience, is more eminently in God, and dost thou scru­ple to comply with his Will? wilt thou prove a Rebel to thy Prince, a prodigal Son to thy Father, an unfaithful Servant to the best of Masters? why shouldst not thou [Page 362] trust God with thy Soul? why shouldst not thou run at his call? what is it sinner, that would make thee take thy ways into seri­ous consideration? would a miracle do it? why, thou hast as great reason to believe, that those miracles which are recorded in the Gospel, to have been wrought for confirma­tion of Christs sayings, were really wrought and perform'd, as thou hast to believe the reality of a miracle, if thou shouldst see one wrought before thine eyes; either thou be­lievest that those miracles were wrought by Christ and his Apostles, or thou dost not; if thou dost not, why dost not thou examine the circumstances to be satisfied? if thou dost, what need there any more miracles? if those miracles will not perswade, thee, how should a new miracle do it? nay, how shall we be sure that the sight of a new miracle would work upon thee? how soon would time wear out the memory of it, and leave thee as careless as it found thee? thou feest mira­culous providences every day, and yet they move thee not; that God spares such a rebel­lious sinful wretch as thou art, so long, and after so many thousand provocations, is a miracle; thou seest Water turn'd into Wine every year; for the insipid Liquor of the Vine is changed into a different taste; thou feest how from a dry Acorn, a mighty Tree doth [Page 363] grow, which gives protection to Men and Beasts, and to the Fowls of the air; thou knowest how from that liquid Principle Job doth speak of, A man clothed with skin & flesh and fenced with bones and sinews rises; what mighty miracles would these be, if they were not common? and yet none of all these stir thy Soul to reflect seriously, what thou must doe to be saved? Would an audible voice from Heaven doe it? why, how couldst thou be sure it came from Heaven? and should a voice come to thee from the regions of bliss, should God vouchsafe thee such a message, immediately from the Clouds, as this, Wash ye, make you clean, put the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: why it would be no more, but what God hath said already, it might for the present surprize and startle thee a little, but if that Precept written, can­not work upon thy Soul, it's to be fear'd, the Precept spoke from Heaven, would make no very lasting impression upon thee. Thou art sufficiently assured, so assured, that a man of reason cannot justly desire better grounds, that God hath spoke those words to thee al­ready, and if Gods repeating this Duty so often in his Word, can do no good, what hopes is there, that repeated again, it would draw thy heart away from sin, and from the world? would a mans rising from the dead [Page 364] do it? Why, Christ is risen from the dead, and is become the First-fruits of them that slept, and he doth, with all the protestati­ons, that are fit for a God to make, assure thee, that he that believes not, that is, shews his Faith by his Works, shall be damn'd, and would engage thy mind to ruminate upon that threatning, and to think which way thou mayst flee, and be freed from that de­struction he speaks of; and why wilt not thou give credit to what he saith? nay, if thou shouldst see a Spirit, the Ghost of one that hath been thy acquaintance formerly, a Ghost that should by woeful experience inform thee, that those things the Scripture speaks of, are undoubtedly true, and that God will proceed exactly, according to what he hath promis'd, and threatned there, it would more satisfy thy curiosity, than ad­vance thy Piety: and the question still may be, whether it would satisfy thy curiosity? for its possible thou mayst imagine, that it might be a deception of sight, and so for­get it, and slight it, and make little of that motive. Thou confessest Christs resurrection, and why he should not be believed before a Spirit, especially when a Spirit could say no more, than he hath said, I cannot well con­ceive.

[Page 365]Sinner, who seeth not, that all these pre­tences, are like the wishes of sickly men, that wish for this or that Fruit, for this or that Dish, and when it is brought, it is so far from curing them, that often it makes them worse, and increases their distemper? who sees not, that these are but inventions, to give some colour of reason to thy unwilling­ness, to shake off the sins which do so easily beset thee? who sees not, that these are on­ly arguments suggested by the Devil, to keep thy Soul from her true food and nourish­ment? and who is the looser all this while? thou wouldst fain impose upon God, and make him believe, that it is not want of Will, but want of Assurance, that this serious consi­deration of thy wayes is necessary, that makes thee stand out against it. And alas! the cheat thou seek'st to put upon God, thou putst upon thine own Soul; and is thy Soul so in­considerable a thing, that thou makest no­thing of deluding, and circumventing it?

What thinkest thou Sinner? suppose thou didst see a Senate, or Parliament, made up of very grave, wise, sober, judicious men, who should unanimously give their verdict in a Cause, and determine it; and while these men, after serious deliberation, give their judgement in the case propos'd to them in comes the malefactor, against whom they [Page 366] have given sentence, accuses the Decree of the Senate of injustice, charges their Vote with a lye, and takes a great deal of pains, to make the world believe a tale of his own making; whom wouldst thou be­lieve, that grave, wise, judicious Senate, or the Malefactor? the Senate sure; and then when God Angels, and Men, the wisest, the gravest, the learnedst of them, do all unanimously determine, that without a seri­ous consideration of thy Spiritual concerns, thou canst not arrive to any sincere refor­mation of life, canst never know the dan­ger thou art in, or what thou must do to escape unquenchable fire; and that without it, thou art a truly miserable man, and dost take the way that leads to destruction, hast thou the impudence to oppose thy sick­ly opinion, which arises from a distemper'd, ed head, and a more distemper'd conscience, to the grave, sound, and orthodox judge­ment of Men, infinitely wiser than thy self? when all with one consent affirm, that thou art sick to death, and nothing but con­sideration can recover thee; wilt thou can­cel their verdict, by prescribing to thy self medicines of thine own making? all cry out against thy inconsiderate course of life, God doth not justify it, Angels do condemn it, the Preachers of the Gospel confute it, [Page 367] Philosophers arreign it, thy Reason hath arguments against it, thy Conscience chides thee for it, thy sober neighbors reprove it, and wilt not thou subscribe to their sentence? what insolence is it to think thy self more knowing, than he that knows all things? Behold sinner, here lies the way to Heaven, God is intreating thee to walk in it; the Devil is busy to discourage thee from it, God saith, Here I will be found, the Devil suggests that the Sons of Anack dwell there, God wishes thou wouldst yield, and live; the Devil, that thou wouldst stand out and dye; God seeks to crown thee, the Devil to rob thee of thy Diadem; God assures thee that this is the Garden, where thy Graces must grow; the Devil argues, that nothing but Weeds and Thistles grow there; All the dispute is, who shall have thy Soul, God or the Devil? think sinner, for God's sake, think who is the Rewarder, and who is the Tormenter, who is the King that can save thee, and who is the Executioner that studies only to ruine thee shall not God prevail? wilt not thou give him thy heart? and shall Satan goe away with thy Soul? shall he possess that Treasure, which Angels are ambitious of? for shame, let not God goe away empty; think what a condescen­sion it is in God, to be willing to accept of [Page 368] so inconsiderable a Present, as thy Heart? what is thy Soul to him? what benefit doth he receive, by offering thee his bosom? if thou hast such a mind to be the Devils slave, what need God take pains to rescue thee from that bondage? dost thou think he cannot live without thee? dost thou think thy being in his Heaven, doth add any thing, to his felicity? cannot he as well be glorified in thy Torments, as he can in thy Salvation? cannot he make his Justice, tri­umph over such a stubborn wretch as thou art? wherein doth his advantage lye? may not he be God, and Great, and Glorious, and admired by Angels, while thou friest in Hell? thou hast very highly obliged him, indeed, that he need be at all this trouble to make thee in love with his ways? shouldst not thou stand amazed at his Favour? shouldst not thou wonder, that this im­mense, and infinite Majesty will vouchsafe a gracious look to so vile a worm as thou art? and canst thou see a God court thee, and grow coy? doth God offer to kiss thee with the kisses of his Lips, and dost thou scorn his embraces? canst thou see him car­ress thee, and turn away thy face? wilt thou prefer the motions of a lying Devil, before the Oracles of the Great God of Heaven? hadst thou rather goe along with him, that [Page 369] will murther thee, than accompany him that will encircle thy Head with a Crown of Glory? shall God magnify his Mercy upon thee, and wilt thou fall in love with his enemy? doth God intend by making love to thy Soul, to give a character to the world of his infinite goodness, and com­passion, and darest thou be so bold, as to lessen that character, by thy contempt and ingratitude?

Behold sinner, God is willing to lay aside his Flaming Sword, thou shalt hear of him no more in the Earthquake, or in the Storm, or in the mighty Wind, that breaks the Rocks in pieces, but in the still small voice, the voice of Boanerges shall sound no more in thy ears, he'll blow his Trumpet of War no more, all his frowns shall be done away, he'll fright thee no more with Hell­fire; if his Grace, his Mercy, his Compassi­on, can but allure thee to bethink thy self, and close with him, and so to consider the concerns of thy Soul, as to resign thy self altogether to his guidance, and direction; his Aspect shall be kind, his Countenance shall be nothing but smiles, his Face shall be a perpetual Sunshine, if by considera­tion of thy ways, thou wilt become sensi­ble of thy former folly, and throw it away, and take up with him alone: if his kindly [Page 370] Beams can thaw thy frozen Heart, if his calm can win thee, and make thee prostrate thy self before the Lion of the Tribe of Ju­dah, Heaven and Earth shall be no longer in conspiration against thee, and thou shalt not need to look any more for Thunders and Lightnings from that Heaven; stand still sinner, and see the Salvation of God; be­hold Grace and Mercy lies weeping at thy Feet, the free, the soveraign, the extensive, the attractive Grace of God comes wooing to thy Soul, and doth bespeak thee in this manner; Hold, Hold thou poor besotted creature, whither dost thou run? Hear, hear, I bring thee the joyfullest tidings, that ever were brought to the ears of Men; God will be thy Father, the Lord Jesus thy Savi­our, the Holy Ghost thy Comforter, the An­gels thy Companions, thy Life shall be a perpetual Holyday, thou shalt be a friend of God, an Heir of Heaven, and Coheir with Christ, thy sins shall all be done away, thy iniquities shall be remembred no more, all the promises of the Gospel shall be thine, God will vouchsafe to live with thee, the Holy Ghost will make thy Soul his Temple, thou shalt have strength to overcome Hell, and Devils, Flames and Swords, and be more than a Conqueror through him that loved thee, the Lord Jesus Christ: ask a Heaven, [Page 371] and thou shalt have it, a Crown, and it shall be thrown into thy bosom, a Kingdom, and it shall be thine, ask all the Treasures of Glo­ry, and they shall not be denied thee; from this time forward thy name shall be inrolled among the Favourites of Heaven, and in thy Soul, as in Jacob's Ladder, the Angels shall be continually ascending, and descend­ing, and thy Head like Gideon's Fleece, shall be water'd with the dew of Heaven, while the unbelieving World shall be dry, and all this shall be thine, if my Love, my Mercy, my Kindness can prevail with thee, and en­gage thee to think seriously, what thou must do to please God, and to be happy for ever. O sinner, had those who now lye sweltring under the burning wrath of Almighty God, such an offer as this, how would they leap and triumph, and agree to so reasonable a condition, and thank God upon their bend­ed knees, day and night, and praise him with­out intermission, that he will vouchsafe to receive them on no harder terms than these! O sinner, is thy heart of stone, that it doth not dissolve at this Gracious Message? Can the Rock hold out against these bowels of compassion? poor stubborn wretch! were not thy Heart all steel, were not thy Con­science seared, how couldst thou forbear be­ing prick'd at the heart, hadst thou but the [Page 372] least spark of good nature left in thee, what might not these Golden Chains, these Silken strings, these Cords of Love, doe with thy immortal Soul? The only reasons that the Servants of Benhadad had, to humble them­selves to the King of Israel, was this, We have heard that the Kings of Israel are mer­ciful Kings. Sinner, hast not thou both heard and seen, and seest it to this day, that the true King of Israel is a merciful King, and will not this prevail with thee, to throw thy self down at his feet, and kiss his Scep­ter, and consider thy imprudence, in devia­ting so long from the end of thy Creation and Redemption, and make thee contented to part with all the strong holds of iniquity within thee, and with all imaginations, that exalt themselves against the obedience of Christ Jesus?

O doe not tell me, that thou wilt most cer­tainly bethink thy self sometime hereafter, when sickness and approaching death shall take thee off from thy worldly businesses; Vain foolish man! How dost thou know thou shalt live till tomorrow? for, What is thy life, even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away? How many thou­sands are cut off, as they are going up the hill, in the noon of their days, before half their race be run? and what Patent hast [Page 373] thou from Heaven, that it shall not be thus with thee? God laughs at that repen­tance, which men begin, when they can keep sin and the world no longer; he sees it is forc'd and squeez'd, and weak, and feeble, and will God accept of thy Devotion, when thou hast exhausted the cream and marrow of thy Bones in the Devils service? How sin­ner? consider thy ways upon thy death-bed? Mad man! dost thou know what Conside­ration means? the Soul must be in its full strength, that considers the sinfulness and sad consequences of her life. Doest not thou see how in sickness the Soul sympathizes with the Body? how the Mind languishes with the Flesh? how weak, how feeble the thoughts are upon a Death-bed? how the mind is employed with thinking of the pain and an­guish, and uneasiness of the Body? how Mens weakness scarce gives them leave to repeat the Lords Prayer intire, without in­terruption? how setling their Estates, and disposing of their worldly affairs, and sorrow, and vexation, that they have not managed their secular concerns, with greater pru­dence, takes up their cogitations? and how transitory, and superficial mens thoughts of sin, and of another world are, except they have gotten a habit of Heavenly-minded­ness, by a long and constant practice of Ho­liness, [Page 374] in the time of their health, and li­berty before? And doth Salvation deserve no more, but a few slight and skin deep re­flexions, when thou liest a dying? Canst thou have such low thoughts of everlasting Glo­ry, as to let Consideration of it, come behind all the satisfactions of thy flesh? Canst thou entertain such pittiful, sneaking conceits, concerning that mighty Heaven, God out of his singular, and unparallell'd mercy, hath condescended to promise to his Saints, as to delay thy contemplations, and thy taking a view of it, till thy Heart-strings break, and thy throat begins to rattle, and the House is falling? Goe ye cursed into ever­lasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. Alas! when men are a dying, the time of working is past, that's the night, wherein no man can work; that's the time indeed to reap comfort of our former con­scientious practises, but not the time to work out our Salvation in; that's the time of re­joycing, because our redemption draws nigh, not the time of setting out from the Gates of Hell; that's the time to finish our course with joy, not the time to begin a Holy life. Alas! the strength and vigor which must be used in a Heavenly conversation, is then gone, and men are just upon the point of reckoning with God, their accounts must [Page 375] then be ready, not to make up, so that if thou art not ready now, to take thy Spiri­tual concerns into serious consideration, thy heart will be hardened every day more and more, and the longer thou livest, the less mind thou wilt have to set about it; and if thou dost not think it worth thy trouble, to spare now and then an hour from thy worldly businesses, to mind this one thing necessary, thou doest as good as tell God, that thou wilt have none of his Heaven, and judgest thy self unworthy of Eternal life.

O Sinner, the present time is the day of Salvation, this is the acceptable time, now strike, and thy sins will fall, now strive, and the Crown will be thine, now fall to work, and promise thy self Eternal Rest; thou canst call no time thine own, but the pre­sent time, that's only in thine hands; make use of that, and save thy self from this un­toward Generation. Extricate thy self from the delusions of the flesh, take courage, and be gone, stay not in Sodom, now accept of Mercy, now lay up thy Treasure, and secure thy right to the Tree of Life, now remem­ber thy Creator, and God will remember thee, when he makes up his Jewels, and spare thee as a man would spare his own Son that serves him.

[Page 376]Hear then this, Men, Fathers, and Bre­thren; the God of your Fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob hath sent us to you, to tell you, that his Supper is ready, and the doors are open, and the Guests are come, and yet there is room, and that you may fill the room which is left, is the message we come to acquaint you withal from him, who delights not in the death of a sinner, but would have him turn, and live. Hear this ye Great ones, ye Nobles, ye Mighty Men, and consider your ways: Consider, whether that voluptuous life you lead, is like that life which that Sa­viour, in whom you pretend to believe, doth prescribe in his Gospel? Consider, whe­ther you are not obliged to practice all those Vertues, and Duties, that the meaner sort perform? and whether in framing to your selves, a new way to Heaven, a way differ­ent from what the word of God doth re­present, you are like to be happy in those Castles of Air you build, and like to arrive to that Glory, which you wish for, and hope to be receiv'd into? Consider, what your pride, and sensuality will at last con­clude in? and whether you will dare to brave it at the great Tribunal, as now you doe on Earth, where you have no body to controul you? Ye that are Magistrates, whom [Page 377] providence hath placed over others to exe­cute justice, and to shew a good example, Consider your ways. Consider, how heavy your connivance at the most notorious sins, Sins, that offer to pluck, even God out of his Throne, will lye upon your Consci­ences one day! Consider what hurt you do, how many Souls you ruine, by your de­bauch'd and luxurious lives! Consider, whe­ther you can satisfy God, as easily as you can do Man, and whether that injustice, that oppression, that covetousness, that lewdness you make nothing of now, are not sins weigh­ty enough to bear you down into the Burn­ing Lake? Ye Learned Men, whether Mini­sters or others, who see and know more than the Vulgar do, Consider your ways. Consider whether that great Knowledge you have, will not procure ye double stripes, if you improve it not into a higher degree of seri­ousness, than common people use; Consider what a ridiculous thing you make Religi­on, if being perswaded and convinced of the rationality of it, you doe not express the power of it, in your conversations. Con­sider, whether building Heaven with your voices, and Hell with your behaviour and de­portment, will not bring down upon you the severest Plagues, that are written in the Book of God! Ye that are hearers of the [Page 378] Word, and frequent the Temple of the Lord to be taught his Statutes, and his Ordi­nances, Consider your ways. Consider, whe­ther so many entreatings, warnings, reproofs, and admonitions, in season, and out of sea­son, which you take no notice of, will not be brought in one day, as evidences to ju­stify your everlasting condemnation? Con­sider, how God is like to resent your bar­renness, and unfruitfulness, under the richest means of Grace, under the droppings of his fatness! Consider, how justly God may pu­nish your not digesting, and applying his Commands and Precepts to your selves, with hardness and blindness of heart, and whether this judgement be not more fre­quent, than the world is aware of, and whe­ther you do not participate of that judge­ment? Hear this, all ye that carry rational An­gelical Souls in your Breasts, Consider your ways. Consider, what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and loose his own Soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his Soul? Sirs, you stand upon the brink of a bottomless pit; who, but a man, whose brains are crack'd, would not look about himself? the least push, or thrust sends you thither; who would not take some pains to get into a Harbor? the Ship is ready to be cast away, the Masts are split, it's leaking [Page 379] on every side; who would not lay hold of a Plank to save himself from drowning? If you know not what to do with that power of Consideration, God hath given you, mar­vel not, if God takes it away, and since you will not bethink your selves, how to be freed from sin and misery, protests in his an­ger, that you shall not be able to make use of that power any more, in order to obtain Eternal life; since you will not take up that sword of the Spirit, to cut the cords of Sin and Disobedience, no wonder if God blunts and dulls the edge of it, that it shall be of no use to you, when you would em­ploy it. O Christians, there is no jesting with a merciful God; where the greatest mercy is scorn'd and rejected, what can ye expect but the severest judgements? Be wise therefore, before the black Decree be irreversibly Signed and Sealed against you, you'll bless the hour, and the day, which bears the Date of your entire and sincere a­greement to Gods Will, in this particular; and when you shall find by blessed experi­ence, that this serious consideration of your ways is the Gate to Paradise, you'll admire the Bounty, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, that moved your hearts to embrace the motion, and you will not be able to for­bear breaking out into singing the Song of [Page 380] Moses, and the Song of the Lamb, Blessing, Honour, and Glory be unto him that sits upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, for, ever and ever.

CHAP. VIII. Of Retirement, and Prayer, the two great helps to consideration. Retirement proved to be necessary to make Consideration of our Spi­ritual State more quick, and lively. Prayer calls in the assistance of Gods Spirit, and renders the work effectual. A Form of Pray­er to be used upon this occasion.

I Will charitably suppose, that the prece­ding exhortation, may have made some impression upon my Reader, and made him in some measure, willing to think more of his Soul, and of the danger it is in, and of his Eternal State, than formerly he used to do, and therefore to shew him how this con­sideration must be managed, that it may in truth conquer, and subdue his inordinate affections, and make them subject to the best of Masters, I shall lay down some necessary helps to Consideration, and these [Page 381] are to mention no more, Retirement and Prayer.

I. Retirement, Though I readily grant, (and do commend it too) that Men, as they are walking with others, or travelling, or going abroad about their necessary occasi­ons, or standing in their Shops, or other rooms, where company goes in and out, may think, that the course they have taken hitherto, is not safe, and therefore it's high time to change, and alter it: yet seeing those thoughts are too much diverted by sensual objects, and apt to goe no farther than the mind or understanding, and reach no deep­er than speculation; it must necessarily fol­low, that Retirement is requisite, to make it reach the affections, and to spread it as far as the Life and Conversation.

By Retirement, I do not mean absconding, or hiding ones self in a corner in the Coun­trey, or in a Wilderness, but retiring in our own Houses. Let the place we live in be never so populous, to be sure we have Cham­bers to be private in, and as the rich may make their best room a Desart for this work, so the poorest may convert any corner in their Houses into a place for this Exercise; its not the neatness of a Closet, that cleanses the Soul from filthiness, nor the curiosity and convenience of a Withdrawing room, that [Page 382] fits the heart for him, that made it; but as Christ made sometimes a Mountain, some­times a Ship, sometimes a Cross, his Pulpit; so a man may make a Meadow, a Field, a Wood, a Garret, any corner in his House, a place fit to retire in, to consider seriously how the case stands between God and his own Soul. I know what Men do commonly object, the very same thing they object a­gainst Consideration it self, and whereof we have sufficiently spoke in the second impedi­ments viz. That they have a great deal of business, and they can spare no time for this retirement. Business, no doubt, must be done, but there is a time for every thing, and a season for every purpose under Heaven, and then sure there must be a time for this Spiritual retirement too, if there be not, we are obliged to find time for it; he that cannot, or rather will not, had as good say, he hath no time to be saved, and he that cannot sometimes neglect the concerns of his Body, or Estate, for the con­cerns of his better part, derides Salvati­on, and does not believe, that there is such a thing, or if there be, that it is of so much value, as the dirt and dung he grovels in. It's true, Manasses retirement was forced, much against his will, yet still it was priva­cy that contributed much to his amend­ment, [Page 383] for while he was encompass'd with his Courtiers and Flatterers, and his fawning crew, he thought Religion a thing below him, and a New Creature but a canting term; but being alone, none but God and his calamity about him, having nothing [...] take off his thoughts, from reflecting o [...] his Apostacy, behold, how Consideration melts him, his Conscience sets upon him, makes him ashamed of his unfaithfulness to his God, makes the Tears stand in his Eyes, and so great is his change, that he who had exceed­ed all the Nations round about him in Ido­latry, and lewdness, immediately takes away all the strange Gods, and the Idols out of the House of the Lord, and all the Altars that he had built on the mount of the House of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the City, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord. 2 Chron. 33.15.16.

So pleasing is this retirement to God, that he doth expresly call himself, Our Fa­ther which sees in secret, Matth. 6.4. When Christ had a mind, his Disciples should see his Glory, he doth not carry them to Jeru­salem, leads them not into the Market-place, doth not mingle them with the multitude, bids them not attend him at Herod's Court; for he knew these places, would rather di­stract, than help their Devotion: but he [Page 384] summons them to goe up with him into a high Mountain apart, bids them retire from secular businesses, leave their sensual affecti­ons at home, separate themselves from such worldly employments, as were apt to take up their minds, that their thoughts might be more at liberty, to contemplate his Glory, and the transfiguration might affect them more, and make the deeper impressions up­on them.

For indeed we find, that as a mans rea­son is more free in such retirements, so God is the readier to meet him, as the Angels did Jacob, in this privacy, and to display to him the vanity of that world, he hath doted on, the Scarlet dye of those sins, he hath delighted in, and that miraculous love, he hath undervalu'd, and trampled on, with the vengeance, he hath procured, and been greedy of: for now it appears, that the man is in good earnest to be sav'd, and to such, God never denies his favour, for most men play with Religion, goe about it, as if it deserved no pains, and therefore here God doth no mighty work, as being loath to cast his pearls before Swine. He that retires to consider, what he must do to be saved, makes Religion his business; and those that seek me thus shall find me, saith the Eternal Wisdom, Prov, 8.17. Such mens minds [Page 385] he is willing to over-shadow, with the power of the Highest, such men prepare to meet their God, and God certainly will not fail them. And Christians say you what you will, either the Gospel is no Gospel, or you'll find by woeful experience, that without you are at some trouble about your everlast­ing concerns, and deny your selves in your time, profit, ease, pleasure, and punctilio's of greatness, to mind your Spiritual interest, and without Heaven doth cost you some­thing more than ordinary, God hath no Hea­ven for you.

He that retires, and sets aside his worldly business, and makes bold with the company he is in, and leaves them to take a view of his duty to God, and Man, that Man lays force upon the Kingdom of Heaven, I am sure offers violence to his carnal interest, violence to Flesh and Bloud. The Heathen could say, that the gods fell all their Gifts and Riches for diligence, and industry, and we find it to be true of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that person who retires, and takes pains with Zachans, to see Christ, may expect the same gracious return, which was made to that Publican. This day Saivation is come into thy House.

The truth is, should God discourse sin­ner, that is in company with other men, or [Page 386] going about his secular affairs, he would find him yawn and gape, and stretch him­self, and gain as much attention, as he that tells a story to a man, whose mind is em­ploy'd about other objects: he seems to give him the hearing, but when a great part of the tale is told, he starts up, and asks, What do you say? but in private, where there is none but God and his own conscience, God can best answer the sinner's objections, against a serious consciencious life, and the sinner is most likely to attend to God's proposals; for here, if his Flesh and Bloud doth plead, that the sin he is to leave, is sweet, and pleasing, and profitable, God can presently argue with him; Dost thou call that sweet which is most bitter and grievous to thy God, and must expire into the bitterest groans? is that so pleasing to thee, which offends, and grieves thy blessed Redeemer, who descend­ed into Hell to snatch thee out of it, and can any profit here counterpoise the Eternal loss of thy Soul? so if he plead, that the sin he harbors, is but a little one, his Conscience can immediately dash the Plea, and reply; How! can that be little which offends an infinite Majesty? Can that be little which nailed Christ to his Cross? since thou know­est, that this little sin is injurious to God's Holiness, what delight canst thou take in af­fronting [Page 387] him, in whose power it is, either to save thee, or to damn thee? the less it is, the greater shame it is, that thou shouldst plead for keeping it; the less it is, the sooner it may be parted withal; O flatter not thy self, thy great love to this sin, makes the sin it self great; and canst thou be said to love God, that canst hug that, which thou knowest runs counter to his Honour and Glory?

In the same manner, all other exceptions nay be answer'd, and the sinner finding, that the reasons he formerly thought invincible, are so easily dash'd, and blown away, is most likely to hearken to the far stronger arguments of God, and his own Conscience: the rather, because he retired on purpose, to have a clearer sight of his ways, than before he had; and since God doth vouchsafe him so distinct a prospect of his Folly, and prepo­sterous Love, he justly thinks, that not to yield to God's reasonings, is to mock him, and savours of such ingratitude, as admits of no excuse. Indeed, without retirement our Thoughts and Considerations flow at large, like Water in the Sea, and we can make no great observations concerning them: but in retirement, they are much like Water in a Weather-Glass, and by them we may guess, what temper our souls are in, whether hot or cold, more exactly than men do at the [Page 388] warmth or coldness of the weather, by the rising and falling of the liquor in those Glasses. In such retirements, a Holy awe and reverence seizes on the Soul; and when I see men can retire to drink, to play, to sleep, and to debauch themselves, I see no reason but they may, (I am sure they have great­er reason to do it) retire to consider the good, and welfare of their immortal Souls.

I have already proved, that Consideration must be frequent, and consequently this re­tirement must be so too, not that a man must never reflect on his actions, or mind whe­ther they be good or bad, but when he re­tires; No, Consideration is either occasio­nal, or a solemn and set Duty; either a ha­bitual guide, or an extraordinary remem­brancer; the former, as it is universally use­ful, and a great means to prevent sin in a true Believer, to check him when he would commit it, to engage him to repentance, when he is fallen, to direct him what he must do, and to encourage him to those Duties, which are proclaim'd in his Ears, as necessary to Salvation; so it is a necessary companion, where ever we are, or what ever we are doing; and these occasional Con­siderations need no retirement; but then where the stream of man's life must be turn'd, or the actions of the day reviewed, how far [Page 389] they have been agreeable to the will of God, how far they have been contrary to it, or where a strict mortification of sin must be used, or where a long neglected duty must be made a familiar guest in thy Soul; in a word, where the work to be done, is of some more than ordinary difficulty, there those occasional reflections will not serve turn, but more solemn considerations must be called in, and these solemn considerati­ons, are properly the things which require retirement, and as its fit they should be used once a day at least, so he doth truly mind the interest of his Soul, that some time every day retires, and considers how he hath behaved himself that day towards God and Man, whether his heart hath not been too much carried out after the comforts of this world, what incroachment they have made upon his love to God, and how they will fill the garden of his Soul with weeds, if he do not stop their progress betimes, and root them up, what company he hath been in that day, what he hath done in his Closet, what his thoughts, words, desires, actions, affections have been that day, whether he hath not been more concern'd for the trash, and perishable riches of this life, than the Glory of God, and the Salvation of his Soul, and how necessary it is for him, having [Page 390] had a fall that day, to be more careful, and cautious, and circumspect the next. This Consideration is the pulse of the Soul, which while it is beating, it's a great sign that there is life in the Soul, and a good argument, that God will increase and enlarge that life. And as edification, and progress in good­ness, ought to be the real design of reti­ring, from the World, so it doth neces­sarily import, that men ought to chuse the liveliest hours, or the hours when their Spirits are most active, and freest from drowziness, for so great a work. When men are drowzy and sleepy, Considerations may often come in, but they are so weak, and faint, that they leave the Soul as cold as they found it, and put it into the circum­stances of that man in the Gospel, who took Men for walking Trees, saw something, but knew not what to make of it, or what name to give it.

While I am discoursing thus, methinks I see the sensual Reader smile; retirement thinks he, this were to make my self a pri­soner in the soft times of Peace, and to de­prive my self of that freedom, which God and Nature have given me; This were to goe into a Monastery, and submit to the se verities of a Convent: this at the best, can only befit a Priest, but can be no quali­fication [Page 391] of a Gentleman: indeed, if Gentle­men had no Heaven to gain, no Hell to avoid; if God had made them Beasts, as too many doe make themselves, we should not be displeased at this rambling talk; but it's an old trick, where men have an aversion from a Duty, to represent it in a dismal dress, and to take off the burthen from their own Shoulders, and to bind it upon others. If they could satisfy God with these shuff­lings, as easily as they doe their own Con­sciences, they were safe, but that, the great day must decide; and when the Archangel shall sound his Trumpet, to gather the dead from all parts of the world, and God, who prescribed to all Men, but one way to hap­piness, shall make a strict examination, how every one hath observed the Rules and Sta­tutes of that way; it will appear that this retirememt, in order to a serious pondering of our actions, was a duty incumbent on some people else, besides Ministers. He that retires upon this account, doth indeed im­prison himself, but it is, that he may attain to true and perfect liberty, triumph over the slavery of sin, lead his corruption cap­tive, and free himself from the dreggs and dross, which corrupted Nature hath brought upon him. Little doth the sensual man think what felicity he robs himself of, by scorning [Page 392] this retirement. Here Heaven would look more beautiful to him, than in a croud; here he might in a manner with St. Stephen, see the Heavens open, and his Saviour stand­ing at the right hand of God; here he might truly enjoy himself, and look with pity on those men, who like Spirits which are some­times seen in Mines, with great labour, doe nothing at all to any purpose; and when they have tired, and wearied themselves in the world, like Flies, burn themselves in that candle about which they have been ho­vering.

Come sinner, prepare thy Pencil, mingle the richest Colours thou canst get, Draw thy sinful careless life, give it a beautiful Virgins face; Draw all the charms that thy fancy can find out; here, Draw the Adora­tion the world pays unto her, there the bows and cringes, whereby both great and small insinuate into her favour. On her Head Draw a Tree, whose Fruit is Gold, and the Dew whereof▪ hardens into Pearls; let her right hand grasp a Crown, and her left drop gifts on her Clients, and Votaries. But then, when this proud Peacock is drawn thus, in all her dazling circles, forget not to Draw her ugly feet, I mean an unquiet, roaring, disturb'd, distracted, trembling Conscience; for into this dismal shape, doth that lovely [Page 393] Mermaid end. On the other side, I'll paint a Wilderness, a Grove, which wise Nature made, and in it I'll represent a devout Soul kneeling, and with the Publican, smiting upon her Breast; then will I draw Heaven, and out of that Heaven, Grace and Mercy in the shape of an Angel, flying down with this message, Fear not, I have redeemed thee, thou art mine; and holding a bottle under to catch her Tears: immediately upon this, the Holy Ghost shall be seen descending, spreading his beams, and warming that Soul, and invigorating it to resist the World, the Flesh, and the Devil: by and by the Glory of God shall appear, and crown all with Peace and Joy, and infinite content, and Eternal Hallelujahs.

And now Sinner, which of these Pictures wouldst thou chuse? do not the homely feet of the former fright thee? can all the Beauty thou seest in that painted Harlot, countervail the misery it dies into? is an ever-gnawing Conscience, matter of sport and laughter? when all these painted Gaudes must break into a dismal Dungeon; wilt thou laugh awhile, that thou mayst mourn and lament for ever? But if thou art so fond of this dangerous Garden, that nothing can reclaim thee from being delighted with it; take thy choice, give me the other Landskip. [Page 394] I know this world Men are so fond of, e're long will have an end, and their pleasures will have an end, and their sins will have an end, and their glory will have an end; but where these end, Gods Justice and In­dignation begins; Blessed is the man, that hath then the God of Jacob for his refuge, the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble▪ what, if I enjoy none of the worlds want on solaces? I know where better and stronger Consolations are to be had; what if Thorns and Bryars surround my Lillies, and Roses, I know they are but to preserve them, and to hinder the Devil from tearing them to pieces: these Thorns are my safe­guard, which will e're long be done away, and when I am out of the reach of all ene­mies, my Lillies will continue fresh, and flourishing for ever: what need I covet the world, when I am made to live above the world? what should I love this Earth for, when I have a God to love? why should I dote on Nature, when I am in the state of Grace? God hath made me many glorious promises, how can I forbear rejoycing under the thoughts of them? By Grace I am made partaker of the Divine Nature; wonderful Dignity!Note: vid. Euseb. Nierem. de ador. lib. 1. c. [...] & seq. Being advanc'd so high, why should I be ena­mour'd with a little Dust? [Page 395] when God hath made me a King, why should I debase my self, or stoop to the mean em­ployment of a Peasant? I know God doth not see, as man doth see, a Soul that loves him above all, is more esteemed in his sight, than the proudest Monarch; nor do rags fright him from fixing his habitation there, where he meets with an humble, broken heart: let others glory in their great Titles, in this I'll glory, that I am a Child of God. Who can express the Honour God bestows on those that give their hearts to him? To be a Child of God is infinitely greater Ho­nor, than to be of Kin to Princes, or to have the Bloud of Nobles running in my veins. A Father expresses greater endearments to him, that participates of his nature, and draws his substance from him, than to him, that's only like him in the face; how far greater love then may I conceive in God to a Child, which by grace is a partaker of the Divine Nature, than to the blessed An­gels themselves? The whole Creation in a manner participates of the Divine Nature; but all other Creatures are but Pictures, painted Images of that Glorious Nature; he that is a Child of God, is a lively Image of his Father, which is in Heaven, and he hath Fellowship, and communion with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. What [Page 396] mysteries are these things to a poor World­ling? but Oh how comfortable to him, that feels the good Spirit bearing witness with his Spirit, that he is a Child of God! If God be my Father, then all the Riches he hath are mine; if he be my Father, he can­not but take special care of me; for, Can a Mother forget her sucking Child, that she should not have compassion on the Fruit of her womb; yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee, behold, I have engraven thee on the palms of my hand, Esay 49.15, 16. Fathers sometimes, expose their own lives to save their Sons; God hath done infinitely more for me; for he assumed humane Nature, and exposed his life for me, who was his Enemy, and a Traitor to him, that I might become his Son.

By Grace I am the friend of God, if God had not taken me for his Child, yet how ex­cellent, how incomprehensible would the favour be, that he vouchsafes to take me into the number of his friends? what a stir do men keep, to purchase the friendship of Great Men? how little do they esteem the friendship of the Almighty? they have not Souls clear enough to admire the Mercy; their understandings are too earthy to adore so great a bounty; it requires too much Spirit and Mind, to be ravished with such [Page 397] compassion. A Friend is often loved better than neer Relations; What may not I pro­mise my self from this Love and Friendship of God? What calamity or misery is there in which this love cannot hold my Head, and keep it from aking? To be loved of God, is to be fed with the richest stream, and to live upon Milk and Honey. If God laid down his life for his enemies, what will not he do for his friends? when I was his enemy, God seemed to love me more than he did himself, and now that I am his friend, shall I think he will love me less, than an ene­my? How should I rejoyce to have such a friend as Jonathan was? but alas! what is this friendship to Gods love? All humane friendship is perfect perfidiousness, in com­parison of Gods friendship. God so loves his friends, that he knows not how to be separated from them; if God had no other place to move in, but Heaven, he would leave that Heaven, and come down and joyn himself to those, whom by his Spirit he hath adopted into the number of his friends; so great, so immense is his love to them. He that is a friend of God, becomes Gods indi­vidual companion. What a favour would it have been counted, if the Son of God, when he was on Earth, would have joyned him­self to one particular man, and would have [Page 398] never departed from him? What a privi­ledge then must it be, for one who is Gods friend to have the Divinity always present with him, not only as a companion, but as an inhabitant, for he dwells in us by his spirit. Did ever any Father love his Son so, as never to part company? did ever any Mother love her Child, as never to suffer it to goe from her Arms? But God is continually embra­cing his friends. Among Men, a Father can­not be always there where his Son is, but God knows not how to be from him, that is his friend; and though God be in all crea­tures by his Essence, Presence, and Power, yet that is, because he is God; with a Gra­cious Soul he is, because that Soul is his friend; and if God were not immense and infinite, and could not be with his other creatures, yet he would be with such a Soul with whom he is one Spirit; and if he could forget things, yet he could not forget such a Soul, or lay aside the thoughts of his pros­perity, and welfare; and if he could forsake his other creatures, yet he could not for­sake such a Soul, but would work always some good or other in her: for Gods love being strong, its always active, and where God bears a good Will to a Soul, he cannot but communicate goodness to her.

[Page 399]And shall I after all this, repine, because I am not a Favourite of Kings and Princes, when I have God for my constant guide, and associate? How should I stand amazed at the strangeness of the favour? if God should charge all the Angels of Heaven, all the ten thousand times ten thousand Spirits which wait upon him, to goe and at­tend such a man with all the Grandeur, and Majesty imaginable; yet what is all this but a desart to Gods society? in having him for my associate, I enjoy more Dignity, more Majesty, more Pomp and Glory, than if I had all the Armies of Heaven waiting up­on me; and can I think, God is always with me, and will not provide for me? If I should neglect all things in the world, and mind nothing but the things of God, and my Fa­thers business, I might he confident that he would feed me, and support me, because so Great, so Good, so Almighty, so kind a friend could not see me perish. The Son of God hath not honoured any Angel with the name of Brother, and yet if I am uni­ted to him by Grace, and by his Spirit, I enjoy this priviledge, and as Mothers love those Children most, for which they have suffered and endured most; so I may be con­fident that God loves me most fervently, because he hath suffered for me on the Cross, [Page 400] and endured most bitter tortures and ago­nies for me. How may I exult, how may I triumph in this love?

O my God! the Angels, for the least drop of that Grace, thou hast bestowed on them, are more beholding to thee, than all other creatures, for all their natural gifts, and for the creation of the whole world: but for the least degree of Grace thou hast confer­red on me, I am more beholding to thee than all the Angels in Heaven; for that I might live by Grace, thou delivered thine own Son, the Son of thy Bosom, the bright­ness of his Fathers Glory, to be crucified, and to dye for me, which is more than thou hast done for all the Angels in Heaven; and thus thou hast obliged me more than thou hast done the Heavenly Cherubins and Seraphins.

Farewel ungrateful treacherous World! I have seen enough of thy deceitful Pre­sents. I'll follow thy weak judgement no longer, I'll esteem no Riches, but what my Saviour hath counted so: In following him I cannot erre; self-denial, and doing the Will of God, were the Treasures he stu­died to be master of; why should not I judge that to be Riches, which God hath judged so? why should not my mind agree with the verdict of the Most High? Nay, when God doth love me so entirely, why should [Page 401] not I for love of him conform my under­standing to his judgement? I see, those that love the world, at the same time con­fess, that they ought to love the everlasting Riches more; for if the fading things de­serve their love, things permanent and solid, and eternal, ought to be loved much more. I will not think much of afflictions now, for I find that God by them, would make me weary of my fondness to perishable trash, and elevate and raise my Soul, to em­brace those Treasures, which neither Men nor Devils can steal away. Physitians I see, when they would cure a sick man, make him sicker than he is, by enjoyning him ab­stinence, by adustions, by vomitives, by putting him to greater torments. I know my Soul is sick, God would make it per­fectly well; but such is my sickness, that God must put me to pain, and anguish, and great trouble, before I can be well; my Heart is all Flint, but when this stone is struck sufficiently, it will then send forth Holy Fire; when my Flesh is weak, my Strength will retire more to my Mind, and Understanding, and I shall be fitter for Heaven. The glorified Bodies of Saints, in the last day, will be the more splendid and illustrious, the more they have been afflicted, [Page 402] and tortured here, and shine the more, the more dismal the Dungeon was, they were kept in, during their abode in this valley of Tears. Why should I weep, when God takes away from me the cause of weeping? How many thousands are now weeping in Hell, because they enjoy [...]d so much of the worlds comforts, and made them occasions of affronting their Creator? Shall I count that loss, which is my gain, and call my want of Riches, a misfortune, when it is the greatest remedy to fit my Soul for Heaven? what is impudence is it in me, to desire that of God, which I ought to hate; at the most, love but with fear and trembling? What inhumanity to my self is it, to beg poison of the Father of Lights, and to murmure that he gives me not that Viper, which will sting me into endless tortures? My love of the world is Adultery, and shall I desire that, wherewith I have committed Adultery? Is it not all one, as if a woman should entreat her Husband, to let her enjoy the pleasure of an unlawful Bed? the Husband doth shew great mercy to her, in that, when he might punish her more severely, he only removes the Adulterer; and shall I count that mer­cy an injury? In wishing for the Riches, and Greatnesses of this world, I do as much [Page 403] desire God to give me that, whereby I may offend him. Shall I be angry with a Chi­rurgeon, who to prevent the spreading of my Cancer, cuts off a Member, to preserve my life? and shall I take it ill of God, for wounding my Flesh, to draw out the Ar­rows that stick in my heart, and would fester, and kill me, if not pull'd out be­times?

How shall I be crown'd if I strive not? How shall I strive, if I have no temptation? I cannot strive without an enemy, and with­out striving there can be no victory; the Workman doth not pull the Gold out of the fire, till sufficiently refined, and shall I murmur, that God lets the Fiery Trials con­tinue upon me, when it is certain, that my Gold is not yet fit to be receiv'd into the Sanctuary? I am full of dangers, but my great­est danger is security. Men fear, and quake, and tremble, if they are in the midst of an hundred enemies. I have all the De­vils in Hell against me, and a whole Army of Lusts bent to ruine me, and am not afraid. And when there is nothing can rouze me from my security, but affliction, ought not I to kiss the rod? In the greatest troubles I may be assured, that God loves me, and that it is not his Anger, but his Love, that [Page 404] follows me with chastisements, and why should I fret under the yoak? especially, when fretting and strugling to shake it off before Gods time, doth but make my neck more sore, and the yoak far more uneasy? I brought the cause of suffering, with me into the world, which is sin, and how can I expect I shall be freed from suffering, till I am freed from sin? God might have placed me in Heaven; immediately upon my co­ming into the world, without any of these outward troubles: he could as easily pro­duce Bread out of the Earth, as he doth the Ears of Corn; but that man may sweat and labour, and relish his bread the better, he causes only the Ears of Corn to spring, and of them Bread must be made; so by labour and suffering, God leads me unto Glory; that I may the better relish his bounty, and liberality, and my rest may be the sweeter after my toil and tempests here. Affliction, I know cannot hurt me, for my Saviour hath been my taster; there can be no bit­terness in these herbs, when my God hath season'd them. Why should I love God less than dogs do their Masters? These poor brutes are beaten, and struck, and chid, and pelted with stones, and yet the more they are beaten, the more they love their owners, [Page 405] and cringe, and bow, and humble them­selves before them; shall I be worse than a beast, and shall I carry a rational Soul in my Breast, and kick against those pricks which God hath set to guard me from Eter­nal Flames? All my sorrows and bitterness will shortly be poured out into an ocean of sweetness, and how little of it shall I per­ceive then? it will then be all lost in a Sea of Glory, and I shall forget that I was poor, and wretched, and naked, and miserable, when I shall be Eternally enriched with God bounty, enamoured with his per­fection, decked with his Majestick Robes, comforted with his Consolation, delighted with his love, enriched by his wisdom, and satisfied with his beauty, in whose Presence there is fulness of joy, and pleasure at his right hand, for evermore.

These are some descants upon that Picture of Retirement, with such consolations can he that retires, refresh himself, while the man that wearies himself with the vanities of this world, finds no solid peace, and when he comes to dye, must look back up­on his former life with horror and anxiety, But

II. Another great help to Consideration, is Prayer, this is the Ambassador that must [Page 406] goe to Heaven, and fetch the assistance of Gods Spirit from thence. Consideration shews me my danger, and my happiness, but it's the Spirit of God must blow upon my affections, that they may actually shun the one, and reach after the other, and this Spi­rit must be had by Prayer, not by Lip-la­bour, not by Prayer unto which the heart is a stranger, and knows not what the tongue means in making such a noise, but by Prayer, which expresses the real desires of the heart, by Prayer, that flows from a deep sense of the absolute necessity of the grace of God, and hath Fire and Flames enough to bear it up into Heaven, For if you which are evil, can give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, saith Christ, Luc. 11.13. and what kind of asking this is, appears from the parable immediately prece­ding, for which of you, saith Christ, v. 5. shall have a friend, and shall goe to him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine in his journey is come unto me, and I have nothing to set before him; and he from within, shall answer and say, Trouble me not, for the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed, I cannot rise and give thee; I say unto you, though he [Page 407] will not rise, and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needs. And then it follows immediately, Ask, and it shall be given you, i. e. Ask for Gods Holy Spirit, with the same importunity, with the same fervency and earnestness, that this man did the Loaves; follow God with incessant cryes, resolve not to be denied, and it shall most certainly be given you.

The truth is, importunate and fervent Prayer shews, a man is in good earnest, and that he doth not come to God out of formality, or meerly to satisfy the motions of a fearful Conscience, but that a great sense of the goodness and mercy of God, and of his Spiritual wants, and necessities, puts him upon Prayer, and such Prayers God cannot despise, because he hath promised to hear them, and of this the Evangelist gives us a very illustrious example in the woman of Canaan, crying unto Christ, Lord help me. the answer is rough, It is not meet to take the Childrens bread, and give it unto dogs; yet this doth not terrify her, she doubles her cryes, and seems to catch our Saviour in his own words; Truth Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs, which fall from their Masters Table: and now God can hold no longer, but from [Page 408] his mouth drops the joyful word, O Woman, great is thy Faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt, Matth. 15.25, 26, 27.

Prayer sanctifies Consideration, and where the Soul begs hard of God, that God would set home the reflexions she hath had, and work her into a willingness, to close with his Will, that he would increase that light which Consideration hath given her; give that light, fire too, to warm as well as cleer her, and drive and force those Convictions, Consideration hath afforded her, into a serious conversion; terrify her so with that sight of sin, which Consideration hath dart­ed into her, that she may remain no longer in the suburbs of Hell, but come out of So­dom, and so allure her with that beauty of Holiness, which Consideration hath let her have a view of, that she may not be able to resist the splendor, but submit to the pow­er, and send his Spirit so to move upon her affections, so to actuate her endeavours, so to encourage her with promises, that it may not lye in the power of the Devil, nor in the power of her Lusts, to gain-say or contradict, or dash the resolutions she hath taken; where the Soul doth with strong desires, pour out these her requests before [Page 409] God, the good Father opens the Gates of Heaven, lets in the Messenger, makes him welcome, smiles upon him, and sends him back, laden with Mercy, and puts words into his mouth, and bids him tell the Soul boldly from that God who heareth Prayer, I have heard thee in an acceptable time, in the day of Salvation have I succour'd thee, I'll pour out my Spirit upon thee, I will open a river in high places, and fountains in the midst of valleys; I will make thy wilderness a pool of water, and thy dry land, springs of water; I will plant in the wilderness, the Cedar and the Myrtle, and the Oil-tree I will set in the Desart, that thou mayst see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy one of Israel hath created it, 2 Cor. 6.2. Es. 41.18, 19, 20.

Up then Christian, who art resolved not to let the concerns of thy Soul, lye at six and sevens, who art afraid to hazard Eter­nity with the careless besotted world; like another Lazarus, beg Alms of the King of Heaven, Cry aloud, and spare not: shew him thy wounds, thy ulcers, thy poverty thy want, thy necessity, let a greater fervency attend thy Prayer for Spiritual blessings, than [Page 410] others use in begging for Temporal Mer­cies. Prayer is the way to be enrich'd with all the Treasures of Heaven; seek Gods as­sistance with tears in thine eyes; remember thy Soul is infinitely more precious than thy Body: and if a Beggar in the street is so earnest with those that pass by to give him something for the relief of his corporal wants, oughtst not thou to be all fire, to pro­cure those blessings which will enrich thy Soul for ever? Josephs Brethren were pinch'd with Famine, because they knew not, that their Brother reign'd in Aegypt; why shouldst thou starve Christian, when thy elder Bro­ther reigns in Heaven; who knows what thou wantest, and is a faithful High Priest, and is touch'd with the feeling of thy in­firmities, and was in all points tempted, even as thou art. Come boldly to the throne of Grace, that thou mayst obtain mercy, and find help in the time of need. If God hath done good to others for his servants sake, who have pleased him, what will not God do for thee, for his Sons sake, in whom alone he is well pleased? if God doth so highly esteem the Piety of Men, that he professes, for my servant Jacob's sake, for my servant David's sake I will be kind to such a one; will he derogate, dost thou think, from the merits and love of his own Son? will he [Page 411] harden his heart, or stop his ears, or turn away his eyes, when thou callest upon him for Christs sake, to send down upon thee the day­spring from on high? Christ is the very object of Gods delight, nothing is sweet, nothing is pleasing to him, but through, and in Christ: what ever is amiable and acceptable in us, it is for Christ his sake, that God doth think it so. Without light, all colours are invisible, there is no beauty in them, the light shining upon them makes them look lovely and amiable; without Christ nothing would appear pure or lovely, or great, or delightful. He that looks on a green Glass, fancies all things he looks upon to be green. God looking upon our Holy endea­vours in Christ Jesus, they all appear to him lovely and good, because all that Christ did, was good, and infinitely pleasing to him. The world had perish'd ten thousand times, if God had not look'd upon it through his Son, and so supported it; he that looks through a Glass upon a stinking carcass afar off, doth not smell the ill scent of it; so God through Christ, looks upon our imperfections, and he smells not the ill savour of our performances. Take courage then, and lay hold on the horns of this Altar, and if thou knowest not what to say, when thou hast taken a serious view of thy ways, [Page 410] [...] [Page 411] [...] [Page 412] make use of this, or some other Form.

Oh thou who art the Father of the Spirits of all flesh, the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning; here lies a poor miserable sinful wretch before thee, not worthy to lift up his eyes and hands to Heaven; I know not where to look for shame and confusion of face, so long have I gone astray from thee, so often have I provoked thee, so often have I slighted thee, so often have I turned thy grace into wantonness, so long have I hunt­ed after broken Cisterns, which can hold no water, forsaking the Fountain of living water, that thou mayst justly absent thy self from me for ever; so disingenuously have I dealt with thee, so often have I en­deavoured to blind thy all-seeing Eye, and to cheat my self, that thou mightst justly cause me to fall a prey to Satan, look stern upon me, and charge me, never any more to see thy face. O wretched creature that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Oh my Lord, how often hast thou darted Rays of Light into my Soul, and the impure fire of my Lusts hath prevailed a­gainst them? how often hast thou sug­gested to my Soul, the danger it hath been in, and yet I have not trembled? how often hast thou stung my heart, prick'd it, and [Page 413] goaded it into serious reflexions? and how soon hath this vain world taken me off again, and dull'd, and dash'd those considerations? how often hast thou sent sparks of Grace in­to my Soul, while I have done what I could, to smother that Holy fire? how justly mightst thou say, My Spirit shall no longer strive with thee. O my God, there is no plague, no punishment that's threatned in thy Law, but I have deserved it, I only stand amazed at thy patience that I have escaped so long, without being consumed, and ruined. Wilt thou receive such a Prodi­gal into thy favour? wilt thou be reconcil'd to so great a rebel? wilt thou pass by unkindesses of so deep a Dye? are the gates of Mercy open yet for so vile a wretch? Doe not I come too late, O my Lord, to the throne of Grace? will God be yet intreated for such a poor forlorn creature? Is there yet compassion left for such a poor sinner? O my God, I question not thy Power, but thy Will to pity such a Traitor as I have been: I know thy Mercy is infinite, it would be a disparagement to thy Glory and Per­fection, to deny the exceeding riches of thy Grace; thou couldst not be God, if my sins exceeded thy power to forgive; but when I reflect on thy threatenings, how justly thou denouncest wrath and indignation against all [Page 414] those, that obstinately prefer their foolish desires, before all the Dictates and Oracles of thy Holy Spirit; O have not I reason to fear, that thou wilt say of me, Cut down this barren Tree, why doth it cumber the ground? and yet how free, how full are thy promises to the truly penitent? how full of Sweetness and Love are all thy Gracious Engagements to those that will have no more to doe with Idols, that will cleave to thee alone, that will renounce themselves, and follow thee? O my Lord, these thy promises are my refuge, were it not for these, despera­tion would be my portion. I doe in some measure see my folly; I see what a gracious, tender, patient, long suffering God, I have offended; I see how my Soul hath leaned on broken reeds, what a sandy foundation I have trusted to, how the world hath be­guiled me, how I have shunn'd thy compa­ny, been glad when God hath been farthest from my thoughts, rejoyced when I have been least of all reflecting on thy goodness. I have nothing to plead for my self, I have no apology to make, the greatest charity cannot excuse my misdemeanors; I have had light and darkened it, convictions, and smother'd them, knowledge, and abused it, reason, and perverted it, heard thy word, and scorn'd it, enjoy'd the means of Grace, [Page 415] and continu'd blind, and hard under them. Thy Mercy is my Sanctuary, I am weary of my burthen, I loath my transgressions, I am willing to be rid of them, I desire to ab­hor them; but though I am thus willing my flesh is weak, my understanding dark, my will dull, my affections to goodness faint, my resolutions in constant. Come, O my Lord, come down into my Soul, come quickly, O thou great preserver of Men, teach me to answer all the reasons of Flesh and Bloud, against a serious conversion; arm me with arguments to beat down my carnal interest; furnish me with motives to a truly Heavenly life; motives, which may break through all the devils suggestions; mo­tives which may invalidate and weaken the prophane motions of my Lusts. Come down thou Sun of Righteousness, thou mighty Star of Jacob, dispel the Clouds and Mists which are upon my Reason; cleer the eyes of my understanding, and enable me to see the arts of Sin, the wiles of the Devil, the snares of the World, the stratagems of the Flesh, and all the mischief that's plotted against my Soul, by my Spiritual enemies. Convince me throughly, that to follow thee is my greatest interest, that to resist these enemies, is my greatest safety, that to watch against their charms, is my greatest felicity. [Page 416] O let me apprehend sin, as it is the greatest evil, let it appear very terrible to my mind, represent unto me Heaven, and thy Love, and all that thou hast done for me, in such lively colours, that neither death nor life, neither good report, nor evil report, may separate me from thy love. O let thy kind­ness, and the benefits of thy Sons death and passion, and resurrection appear to me, in such characters, that I may long to be fill'd with all the fulness of God. Thy Spirit is perfect Light, and there is no darkness with him. O let that glorious Light, dissipate that gloominess, those foggs, that confused­ness, that is in my intellectual part; make me conceive clearly, and distinctly what I must do to inherit Eternal life, and how I must carry myself to God and Man. Give me such a sight of thy Glory, as may lift me up above the world, and engage me to have my Conversation in Heaven. Bow my Will, to conform entirely to thy Will; I would not be mine so much as thine. Come Lord, and take the government of my Soul into thy hand; I have too long suffer'd my self to be guided by merciless Tyrants: art thou not my Master, my Prince, my Father? thou hast the greatest right to rule me. Incline my Will unto thy Testimonies, and not to Covetousness; when my Will would wan­der [Page 417] from thy Precepts, cross it, and put a stop to it, that it may not goe beyond the limits of thy Law. O heal my affections, they hanker too much after this Earth, O make them in love with Heaven, chide them for deserting their highest, and their chiefest good; let my hatred pitch upon no other object but sin; let my Love be carried out after nothing so much as thee; and if I love any thing besides, let me love it only for thy sake; let my hopes be fixed upon im­mortality, engrosse thou my desires, let me fear none but thee, let my chief delight be in thy ways and ordinances; strengthen my resolutions; O deliver me from that fickle­ness, I have so long been guilty of; make my purposes firm, let them be as the Moun­tains of God, which can never be moved; let nothing be able to weaken my good intentions; give me courage to fight the good fight; O Lord in thy strength I'll re­sist, by thy Power I will conquer; my heart hath lock'd the out; O knock again, and if it will not yield, break open the door, and let all my corruptions vanish at thy Presence, O Lord, I beg no Riches, no Ho­nours, no Preferments, if I have but Food and Raiment, I will learn therewith to be contented: its thy Grace I want, establish me with thy free Spirit; give me spiritual [Page 418] Wisdom, even that wisdom, which makes me wise unto Salvation: thou art nigh unto them that call upon thee, yea unto all such as call upon thee faithfully. O cast me not away from thy Presence, I am thine, O save me, order my steps according to thy word; when I read it, let me read it with that at­tention, as to observe and take notice of what thou dost command; when I hear it, let me hear it, as if it were the last time that ever I should hear it: let thy Oracles make deeper impressions on me than ever; dash all those evasions, and excuses I used to al­leage, when I have had no mind to obey thee; let the good motions of thy Spirit pre­vail: O that there should be such difficulty in conquering a poor sinner! O that God should be forced to carress me to my hap­piness! O that Heaven should attract me no more! O that God should need to send out messengers to entreat me to come to the Supper of the Lamb! Lord, take away this dulness, make me mount up with wings, as Eagles; Let me not be able to goe out of thy Presence, till I have fully, and un­feignedly resolved, to give my self up to thy service.

O Jesu, the light of the world who en­lightenst every man that comes into the world, where thou dwellest, there Mercy [Page 419] dwells; O dwell in my Soul, and Mercy, and Truth will kiss each other there: teach me to hate my self, not only for the hurt I have done to my self, but for the injuries and indignities I have offer'd thee; I was a horrid monster, thou by thy death madest me a pleasing spectacle in the sight of Hea­ven; I lay in the mire and pit, thou didst advance me into thy Fathers bosom; I lay trembling under the jaws of the hellish Dragon, thou gavest me a place in the heart of God; I was unworthy of thy gracious Aspect, and thou hast made me capable of being embraced by the Great and Terrible God; I lay in a Dungeon, thou didst pro­mote me to a Throne; thou hast done that for me, which I durst not have hoped, or wish'd for: it had been enough, to have deliver'd me from Hell, but that would not content thee, except I were raised above the Heavens, and above Angels too: it had been favour enough, when my condition was so desperate, if thou hadst parchas'd for me a suspension, or forbearance of thy Fathers Anger, but thou didst go further, and didst purchase me a Pardon too, and not satisfied with that, thou didst incline thy Fathers love to me, and as if that had not been enough, thou didst procure me Gifts and Blessings too, and not only Bles­sings [Page 420] in general, but the greatest Blessing imaginable, even thine own Kingdom, and thine own Heritage. How unworthy have I lived of this incomprehensible Love? O that I might not be able to reflect upon my life without indignation! Thou art the way, the truth, and the life; direct me, and I'll strive to enter in at the strait Gate, purify my Spirit, wash my Soul with thy Bloud, that's the Eye-salve which will make me see, that's the Medicine which will cure my blindness: O cleanse me, and I shall be whi­ter than Snow: O thou inexhausted Foun­tain of Goodness, let me not goe away dry from thee, let the light of thy countenance always shine about me, and by that light let me discover, not only my grosser sins, but my more secret corruptions. Draw me after thee, and I shall run, hide me in thy wounds; be my Advocate, and plead my Cause; thou spreadest open thy Arms to all that desire Rest; behold I come, receive me Graciously, love me Freely, teach me to relye on thee; My Joy, my Treasure, my So­vereign Comfort, cause all the fruits of the Spirit to grow in my Soul. O help me, or else I perish; O assist me, or else I faint; my Conscience terrifies me, O do thou speak peace unto it, the roaring Lion threatens to devour me, O shew thy gliterring Sword, [Page 421] and drive him away. Gods anger burns against me, O throw some drops of thy Bloud into that fire, and it will goe out. Let me be content to sell all for thee, let me not scruple to part, even with the best things I have, for thy service; set me as a seal upon thy Heart, stream down the wa­ters of Life upon me, I'll open my mouth wide, O do thou fill it; I will live to my self no more, possess all my faculties, and unite them to thee: make me truly ac­quainted with my self; let those joys thou hast promised to thy Saints, support me in all my tribulations. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

O Thou Blessed and Eternal Spirit, vouch­safe to breath upon me; blow upon my Garden, that the Spices may flow, move power­fully upon my Soul, that it may bring forth fruits meet for Repentance. Let me be truly afraid to resist thy suggestions. Sanctify, and give success to all my attempts to make my Calling and Election sure; when my stubborn heart would baffile thy designs to save me, let thy Grace overcome, and conquer me, repre­sent the love of God to me in that Glory, that I may instantly throw down all I have, at the feet of Christ; O let my Soul be so dazled with its beams, that I may desire, and breathe [Page 422] after nothing so much, as after a Glorious en­joyment of God. Break the chains of my sins, command the Fetters I have been bound in, to fly asunder; whatever good thoughts I have of God, increase them; enlarge my Soul, that I may tru­ly delight in thinking of thee; let me feel the sweetness of Holiness; let me taste those joys which thou dost vouchsafe to those, that improve thy motions; tempt me by a foretaste of Hea­vens Glory, to lay force upon it. Give me a glimpse of yonder Paradise, that I may not faint in my journey; give me arguments against my self, that I may be deliver'd from my self. Fill all the channels of my Soul with thy gifts, while I sojourn here on Earth, let my heart be in Hea­ven; let not self-love in me, hinder me from lo­ving thee; Take my heart away, and give me thy self, be thou my heart, and all my delight, wherever I am, be thou my Director, let thy word be my rule, and enable me to live accord­ing to that rule. O Holy, Blessed and Glorious Trinity, one God, thou immense Sea of happiness, make me to know what it is to be one with thee. O thou everlasting Goodness, O thou everlasting Wisdom, O thou everlasting Sweetness, grant I may see thee, seeing, may love thee, loving, may admire thee, admiring, may imitate thee, and imitating thee, may enjoy thee, enjoying thee, may never be separated from thee, but live in thy Light, and Love, and Glory, to all Eternity.

FINIS.

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