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The Servant's actual Readiness for the Coming of his Lord, Described, and Recommended.

In Two DISCOURSES Preached at Lexington, December 17th. 1752. Being the Lord's Day after the Funeral of their late venerable and aged Pastor, the Reverend Mr. JOHN HANCOCK, who going to Bed as well as usual the Night after the 5th of December, and awaking some time after Midnight with a great Pain in his Stomach, died in a few Minutes. In the 82d Year of his Age, and 54th of his Ministry.

By NATHANAEL APPLETON, A.M. Pastor of the first Church in Cambridge.

Published at the Request of the People of Lexington.

Mark vii.35, 36, 37.

Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the House cometh, at Even, or at Midnight, or at the Cock crowing, or in the Morning.

Least coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.

BOSTON: Printed by S. Kneeland, 1753.

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The Servant ready and waiting for the Coming of his LORD.

LUK. XII.35, 36, 37.

Let your Loins be girded about, and your Lights burning: and ye your selves like unto Men, that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the Wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh they may open to him immedi­ately. Blessed are those Servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.

WATCHFULNESS is the great Duty which our Lord is here pressing upon his Disci­ples; that they might be in actual Rea­diness for his Coming, at what Time so­ever it shall be, whether sooner or later; at the second or third Watch of the Night, ℣. 38. And here our Saviour considers them as Servants, and from thence argues their Obligation to Watchfulness, and a constant Readiness for his Coming. And he takes the Argument from the Custom of Servants (that is faith­ful Servants) watching and waiting for the coming home of their Masters, when gone Abroad, especially to a Wed­ding, when it was very uncertain at what Hour of the Night they would come Home. Now in such Cases, the [Page 2] Master required, & expected, and the good Servant would, accordingly be in Readiness to open to his Master and let him in, whenever he knocked at the Door. The good Servant instead of being asleep, and all in the Dark, when his Master came home, tho' late at Night; would be a­wake, with his loose Garment girt about his Loins, that it might not be in the Way to hinder or retard him in run­ning and opening to his Master immediately. But then, it being in the Night, Lights would be necessary for the Reception of his Master: Accordingly the watchful ser­vant will take Care not only to have Candles or Lamps, with Oil, in the Room, but to have them lighted, & actu­ally burning; that he might not have the least Thing to hinder him; but so soon as ever he heard his Master's Knock he might open to him immediately, and his Master find every Thing in readiness.

And now from this Custom our Saviour takes Occasion to recommend the same Watchfulness, and actual Readi­ness to his Disciples for his Coming, how soon or sudden soever it shall be. Let your Loins be girded about, and your Lights burning, and ye your selves like unto Men that wait for their Lord &c. And so our Saviour explains himself, ℣. 40. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh in an Hour when ye think not. If Christ's Coming here, has a primary Reference to his coming to judge the Jews in the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Dissolution of the Jewish State; yet it may refer to his coming to particular Per­sons at Death; and his coming to judge the World at the last Day: of which the Destruction of Jerusalem may be considered as an eminent Type, or lively Emblem. And if we consider his coming at Death, or at the Judgment; they are both utterly uncertain as to the Time. We know neither the Day, and much less the Hour, when the Son of Man shall come. As to his coming by Death, we know in general, that it cannot be far off: But whether he will come early in the Evening, or in the second Watch, or in the third Watch of the Night, even to advanced old Age, who can say, before it comes to pass? —

[Page 3]And now, as I have already observed, that these Words have an Eye to the Manner of a faithful Servant, who ex­pecting his Master to come Home: But not knowing at what Hour, endeavours to have every Thing in actual Readiness; that whether he comes sooner or later, he may open to him immediately: So I shall carry on this Similitude thro' my Discourse, as what may afford many instructive Thoughts to us.

Accordingly, what I propose is,

  • 1. To consider this Direction of our blessed Lord, to have our Loins girded about.
  • 2. What it is to have our Lights burning.
  • 3. Agreable hereto, I shall describe the Man, the Christi­an, who is thus waiting for the Coming of his Lord.
  • 4. I shall then consider the Blessedness of all who are in such a watching, waiting Frame.
  • 5. And then make some Application suitable to the Occasion.

1. Let us consider this Direction of our blessed Lord: Let your Loins be girded about.

Now this, as I hinted, has Reference to the Manner of those Nations, who were wont to wear long & loose Gar­ments, which they were obliged to gird or tuck up, when they engaged in any Business, that they might not be in their Way to fetter, intangle or hinder them. And thus Servants to be ready to wait upon their Masters at their coming home, girded their Garments about their Loins: And would not have so much as this to do, when their Master knocked: And would be thus girded up all the Evening; and to the second, and third, and fourth Watch of the Night, if their Masters tarried so long.

[Page 4] Quest. And now, What Instruction does this afford to Christians: what would Christ have his Servants do, corres­ponding with this?

Ans. 1. It is a Call to Christians to shake off all their Sleep and Drowsiness, and be in a wakeful Frame.

The Servant's girding up his Loins to be ready for his Master's coming, supposes him to be awake, and ready for Business. So when Christ says to his Disciples, Gird up your Loins; it is as much as to say, Christians must shake off all their Dulness, Drowsiness, and Sloth, and get and keep in a wakeful watchful Frame.— As for Sinners, they are in a Sleep, in a Sort of dead Sleep, and the Call of the Gospel to such is that, in Eph. v.14. Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the Dead, and Christ shall give thee Life. And as for real Christians, they are exceeding apt to be drowsy and sleepy in the Business of Religion, and Service of Christ. The Things of Time and Sense lull them asleep. In the Parable of the Virgins, the wise are represented as slumbring as well as the foolish, Matth. 25.5. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbred and slept. But now, when Christ says to Christians, Let your Loins be girded about; it is as much as to say, Awake out of all your Slumbers, rowse up and bestir your selves in the Service of Christ and of your Souls. — And surely considering we know not when our Lord will come, it concerns us to shake off all our Drowsiness, lest coming he find us sleeping. And this is to have all our Powers awake; and we ready to every Duty and Service God calls us unto.—It is astonishing to think, what dull drowsy and slothful Frames Christians fall into, considering we know not but the Lord is at Hand, that He the Judge is before the Door; and may knock by the Messenger of Death this very Night. Wherefore when Christ says in the Text, Let your Loins be girded about; you must consi­der him speaking to them, as in Rom. 13.11. And that knowing the Time, that it is high Time to awake out of Sleep; for now is your Salvation nearer than when you at first be­lieved. And in 1 Thes. v.6. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.

[Page 5]Ans. 2. It intends the laying aside every Thing that would fetter, clogg or hinder us in any of the Duty and Service that Christ our Lord calls us unto.

The Servant was to gird his Garment about his Loins, that it might not hang in his Way, when he was waiting upon his Master. And the good and watchful Servant who expected his Master to knock at the Door, instead of having his Garment hang loose, girded it about him, that he might run without any Delay to open unto him. And besides, he knew not what his Master might have for him to do when he came in: and therefore would have his Garment girded about him, so as to be no Obstruction to him. Accordingly, when Christ calls upon us Christians to have our Loins girded about; it intends that we should as much as possible get every Thing out of the Way, that would hinder us in our Christian Course, or keep us in an unsuitable Frame for the Coming of Christ at Death. It intends that we lay aside every Thing that would put us into an unfit Posture for Death to meet us in.

Here then, as Sin and Corruption working in our Hearts, would be very unsuitable, and very much indispose & hinder us from a due Attendance upon Christ at Death; so to gird our Loins, is to get rid as much as possible of the Workings of Sin & Corruption within us. While Lusts of any Kind prevail, a Man is as unprepared for the Coming of Christ by Death, as the Servant is to run and wait upon his Master, with all his Garments hanging loose about him. So that to gird up your Loins, & be in a wait­ing Posture for your Lord, is to be getting rid of every vicious Habit, with all your Might, striving against corrupt Nature, and all the out-breakings of it: calling in the Aids of the divine Spirit to subdue it for you. Whatever Lust you find begins to work within you, it must be op­posed with all your Might, considering how unsuitable it will be for you to be intangled with any Lust, when Christ the Lord shall knock at the Door by the Messenger of Death.— And therefore, when Pride, or Passion, or Cove­teousness, or Carnality, begin to work in your Hearts; then consider with your selves, and say, Is this a proper [Page 6] Posture for Death to find me in? Is this a fit Frame for a dying Man? If Christ my Lord should now come and call for me, is this a fit Temper to meet him in? Now such like Reflections would put us upon girding up our Loins. And Oh! what Strength would it give us to re­sist and repel a Temptation to Sin, to consider and say within our selves, that for aught we know, Christ our Lord and Master may be at the Door ready to call for us; and how shall we, while under the Power of Sin and Cor­ruption, be ready to meet him, or even to look him in the Face?

Ans. 3. But then this girding up the Loins may more especially intend the laying aside the Sin that most easily besets us; and which we are most liable to fall into.

The Sins which Christians are more particularly addict­ed to, are like long loose Garments that are always in the Way, hindring from many good Things, that otherwise might be done by us. There is nothing that so much comes in the Way, and hinders a Man in running the Christian Race, & from preparing for the Coming of Christ by Death and Judgment, as his own particular Sin, his Constitution Sin, or the Sin he has been long accustomed to; or that to which he is peculiarly exposed, by his Call­ing, by his Place, and Station in the World, by the Com­pany he is in the Way of, and the Examples and Entice­ments of Sinners, that he is unavoidably exposed unto. These, I say, are the Sins that fetter us, and hinder us from being in a due Preparation for the Coming of Christ. Accordingly, the Apostle lets the Christian Hebrews know, that as ever they would run the Christian Race set before them, they must lay aside the Sin that easily besets them, Heb. xii.1. The Sin that encompasses, that clasps, or clings round about them; as their long Garments did, to which the Apostle seems to refer. And therefore, as those Gar­ments were to be laid aside, or girded up before they were fit for Business; so those Sins that clasp, and cling round about us, so as to fetter and intangle us in running the Christian Race, must be put out of the Way. Whether our particular Sin be Pride, or Passionateness, or Envy, or [Page 7] Malice: whether it be Unbelief, or Distrust, or Discon­tent: Whether it be Worldly-mindedness, or Carnality: Whether it be Idleness, or Sloth, or Voluptuousness, or In­temperance. I say, whatever it be, we must with all our Might labour to get rid of it, as ever we would be ready to meet Christ at his Coming. — For consider, I beseech you, how unfit you will be for the Coming of the Son of Man, while you are intangled with any of these Lusts? Who can think himself in a fit Posture to meet Christ at Death, and at the Judgment, with his Mind puffed up with Pride and Vanity? or his Spirit broiling with angry Passions, and breathing out Threatnings and Revenges? or who has his Heart swallowed up with worldly Cares, and earthly Affections; or is wallowing in sinful Pleasures? Surely this, to keep to the Similitude before us, would be as improper, and as unbecoming, as it would be for a Ser­vant who is ordered to wait for his Master's com­ing home, to have all his Cloaths hanging so about him, and be so intangled with them, that he could not so much as arise and open the Door to him.—And this may suffice to shew what our Saviour means, when he calls upon his Disciples to have their Loins girded about. — It is to rouse up out of all our Sleepiness and Dulness, and exert our selves with Life, Spirit and Activity, in the Service of Christ; and to lay aside every Sin, and especially every Sin that does most easily beset us, as what will hinder us from being in a suitable Readiness for the Coming of our Lord.

II. I proceed now to consider the next Word of Ad­vice, viz. And your Lights burning.

And this I said, refers also to the Manner of Servants waiting for their Master's coming home in the Night, let it be what Hour of the Night it would; whether early or late, the Servant took Care not only to have Candles or Lamps, and Oil in them, ready to light: but had his Lamps actually lighted, and burning, that when the Master knocked at the Door, he might not then have the Lamps [Page 8] to light up; but being already lighted, might go imme­diately, and open to him, and light him into the Room, where the Lights were burning, and all Things ready to receive him.

Quest. And now, What are we to understand by our Saviour's calling upon his Servants, thus to have their Lights burning?

Answ. in General, It intends, that Christians should see to it, that they have all Things in actual Readiness for the Com­ing of the Son of Man at Death.

The Servant must have not only some Lamps and Ap­pearance of what afforded Light; but there must be Oil in the Lamps; and not only Oil in the Lamps, but they must be actually lighted up, and burning. Agreable to this, there must be in Christians, not only an outward Shew and Appearance of Readiness; but there must be a real habitual Readiness: and not only so, but an actual Readiness for the Coming of Christ. — So then, to keep to the Similitude of my Text, let me say—

1. If you would be in Readiness for the Coming of the Son of Man, you must have at least a Lamp of outward Profession.

A Lamp is the Emblem of an outward Profession. So our Saviour is understood in his Parable of the ten Vir­gins, Matth. xxv.1. The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto ten Virgins who took their Lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. ℣. 3. They that were foolish took their Lamps; but took no Oil with them. Which is universally interpre­ted of the Profession which they made. And a Lamp is a fit Emblem of an outward Profession; as might easily be shewn. And now, it is the Duty of all under the Gos­pel to have a Lamp of a fair Profession. That Servant who has not so much as a Lamp, is not in any Readiness for his Master's coming home in the Night: No more are Persons under the Gospel prepared for the Coming of Christ, without a free, fair, and open Profession of him. The Servant was to have his Lamps, the Form and Ap­pearance of Light; so you must have the Form and Ap­pearance of Religion. Not that this will by any Means [Page 9] answer the End of it self, any more than an empty Lamp would answer the End to give Light: But as a Lamp is necessary to contain that which affords the Light; so a Profession of Christ is necessary to our being Christians. Altho' many Professors will be disowned and rejected of Christ hereafter; yet if we don't profess him to be our Lord, and freely acknowledge him before Men, he will finally disown and reject us. Matth. x.32.33. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before Men, him will I confess before my Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before Men, him will I deny before my Father which is in Heaven. So that the denying Christ, or neglecting and re­fusing to own him (which is a Sort of denying him) is not so light a Thing as some People imagine; but it is highly requisite to our being ready for the Coming of the Son of Man, that we make an open Profession of him.

That Servant would be look'd upon as very far from being ready for his Master's coming home in the Night, who had not so much as a Lamp or Candle in the House. And let me tell you, that if you have not so much as the Lamp of a Christian Profession, you are as far from being prepared for the Coming of Christ at Death or the Judg­ment.

Indeed there are Degrees of Profession; but we should labour to stand compleat in our Christian Profession, and to walk in all the Commandments, & come up to all the Ordi­nances of the Lord. And as for such, who thro' Carelesness or indulged Sloth, or Bashfulness, neglect to make a full Pro­fession of Christ, or to come up to his holy Ordinances; they are in a very poor Readiness for Death or Judgment. For supposing that Christ the Master should knock at your Door by the Messenger of Death; and after that, you should be called to Judgment, what Excuse could you make to the Master, that you had not so much as owned him, or openly professed him to be your Lord?

Wherefore let all such who are unbaptized; or being come to Years of Discretion, neglect to renew their baptis­mal Covenant, and to take the Bonds thereof upon them­selves, or to seal the same at the holy Sacrament of the Supper: [Page 10] And when the Neglect hereof is thro' Carelesness & a Spirit of Indifferency, or thro' Bashfulness, and a being ashamed to make such a publick Appearance, consider those awful, and very awakening Words of our Saviour, Matth. viii.38. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my Words in this adulterous and sinful Generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the Glory of the Father with his holy Angels.

2. If we would be in Readiness for the Coming of Christ, we must have not only the Lamp of a fair Profession; but the Oil of true Grace in the Heart.

The Servant who waits for the coming home of his Master, don't content himself with having a Number of empty Lamps hanging about in the Room, or in the En­try; but he sees that there be Oil in them, that will burn and afford Light unto his Master.— So what Christ re­quires of us as absolutely necessary to our being in Readi­ness for his Comng, is the Oil of true Grace in the Heart. There is no Man is or can be in Readiness for the Coming of the Son of Man, without this. For altho', a publick Profession of Christ, and of his holy Religion, be our in­dispensible Duty; yet a bare empty Profession will not answer the End, any more than empty Lamps will serve to give Light in the Room. A Soul empty of true Grace, is like an empty Lamp, and is utterly unprepared for the Coming of Christ by Death, or to the Judgment.—There must be a gracious Change wrought in Mens Hearts by the Spirit of God: There must be the Seeds and Princi­ples of every Grace, and so that which is called the Habit of Grace: And if Christ should come to any by Death before they are thus endowed with the Grace of God, alas for such poor Souls! they will be lost & undone for ever. There must be the Habit of Faith, true Faith; for without Faith it is impossible to please God; and he who believes not shall be damned. Mar. xvi.16. There must be the Grace of true Repentance towards God, as well as Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ: For unless we repent, we shall all likewise perish, Luk. xiii.3. There must be a Principle of Holi­ness [Page 11] in the Heart, and the Practice of it in the Life: For without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord, Heb. xii.14. And the same may be said as to the Love of God, and as to the Love of our Neighbour, and to Humility, and Patience, Self-denial, and every other Grace. For this Habit of Grace in the Soul, is the very Thing that prepares for the Coming, and Presence of Christ. Let a Man have every Thing else; yet if this one Thing be lacking, he cannot be ready for the Coming of Christ. Let a Man make never so high a Profession, and appear never so reli­gious, and be never so confident about himself, and his own Readiness for Death and Judgment: Let him say never so much of his waiting and longing for his Dissolu­tion and Departure, in the confident Expectation or Assu­rance of his going to be with Christ; yet if the Habit of true Grace be wanting, he is by no Means fit for that awful Change: And if Christ should come to him while in such a graceless State, all his confident Boasts, and high Expectations will only expose him to a greater Disap­pointment. "For what is the Hope of the Hypocrite, tho' he hath gained, when God taketh away his Soul?" The deplorable Case of such is represented by the foolish Vir­gins in the Parable, who had Lamps, but no Oil to keep them burning: and while they were running about seek­ing and begging for Oil, Behold the Bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the Marriage; and the Door was shut: And when they came and cried, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; He answered and said, Verily, I know you not, Matth. xxv. at the Beginning.

3. If we would be in all due Readiness for the Coming of Christ by Death, we must have not only the Lamp of a fair Profession, and the Oil of true Grace in the Heart; but the Lamp must be lighted, and actually burning; i. e. this true Grace must be in lively Exercise: — And your Lights burning, is the Direction of the Text. The Servant who waited for the coming of his Master, kept his Lights burn­ing all the Evening, even to the third or fourth Watch of the Night, if his Master did not come before. And this [Page 12] Advice to the Christian, is to have his Graces in lively and vigorous Exercise. What Christ here recommends to his Disciples, is not only an habitual, but an actual Readi­ness for his Coming; and in Order to it, recommends not only the Habit, but the lively Exercise of Grace. — As for the Habit of Grace, it belongs to every true Chri­stian; for it is the gracious Habit that makes the true Christian. But this Habit, when it is not in lively Exer­cise, is like Oil in the Lamp, but not lighted up, or only so lighted as that it scarce affords any Light at all, and is so dim, that it can hardly be discerned: or so poor a Light, that it seems to be just going out. But now, the Direction of our Lord is to have our Lights burning; that is, burning bright & strong; which is to have Grace in lively Exercise, as the best Preparative for his certain and sudden Coming by Death and Judgment.

Thus we may not content our selves with a supposed Principle of Faith or of Repentance: But there must be the Exercise, the lively Exercise of Repentance towards God, and of Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And as there must be the Principle or Habit of Love to God, so there must be the Exercise of it: The Heart must be filled with the highest Esteem of him, and carried out in most ardent Desires after him, and in the highest Delight and Satisfaction in him, which must sweetly but power­fully carry us on in a Course of sincere and chearful Obe­dience to him: For this is the Love of God that we keep his Commandments; and his Commandments are not grievous.— So again, there must be not only the Habit of true Love and Charity to our Neighbour; but the Soul must be actually going forth in sincere Wishes and servent Prayers for their Welfare; and we must be much in Acts of real Goodness and Kindness to them, as we have Ability and Opportunity for it. So again, there must be not only the Principle of Humility; but we must be cloathed with Humility; and we must walk humbly with our God: and there must be a condescending to Men, even to Men of low Degree. Again, as there must be the Habit of Patience, so this must be put forth in a patient bearing [Page 13] every Evil we meet withal. And then there must be not only a self-denying Spirit; but there must be an actual denying our selves: there must be a denying our Self-Will, our Self-Humour, or Self-Honour, or Self-Ease, or Self-Interest, as the Cause of God, and the real Good of others, calls for it. And now to have Grace thus in Exercise, is to have our Lights burning.

And here I would further say, that for Persons to ima­gine they have the Principle of Grace in their Hearts; and yet not to Exercise it in their Lives, is a sad Sign that they are ignorant of themselves, and think them­selves something, when indeed they are nothing; for Grace in the Heart will some how or other manifest itself in the Life, Matth. xii.35. A good Man out of the good Treasure of his Heart bringeth forth good Things.

I don't say, that wherever there is a Principle of Grace, there is always the discernable Exercise of it; for by some Means or other; especially by Means of remaining Cor­ruption; and some present powerful Temptation; the gracious Principle may be obstructed in its Operation; and so may be buried up for the present as it were like Fire covered over with Ashes, as not to be discerned. And as to some particular Graces or Vertues, there may not be at all Times Occasion for the Exercise of them. But unless there be a prevailing Inclination to exercise every Grace and Vertue, as there is Occasion: And if there be not some Exercise thereof generally as Occasions call for it, there is Reason to fear, that the Principle it self is wanting:—for, to keep to the Similitude of the Text; should we not be ready to conclude there was no Oil, or no good Oil in a Lamp, when upon no Occasion we could light it, and set it a burning? A Principle of true Grace is powerful, and active: and therefore where­ever it is found, it will have a general Influence upon Mens Lives: And therefore when we see no such graci­ous Influence upon Mens Lives, it is justly to be feared the Habit it self is wanting.

[Page 14]I insist the more upon this Point, to stave People off from that Self-Flattering, & Deceiving, that is common among Men, whereby they fancy they have true Grace in their Hearts, when there appears nothing of it in their Lives; and so vainly conclude they are ready for Death, and for the Coming of the Son of Man: when alas, they have nothing in Readiness for such an awful Change; and would be put to as great a Plunge, and meet with the same dreadful Disappointment as the foolish Virgins.

I would not therefore have any of you think, that you are prepared, much less that you are waiting for the Com­ing of our Lord, from a vain Conceit, that there is the Principle of Grace within, when there is no Exercise of it. What doth it profit my Brethren, if a Man say he hath Faith, and hath not Works? Can Faith save him? Jam. ii.14. It is not the saying, We have Faith, that will save us: nor will the having such a Faith, as is without Works; yea, tho' it should swell up into a presumptuous Confi­dence or Assurance, prepare for the Coming of Christ. So then, to finish this Head, and to conclude at present: To have our Lights burning, is not to have Grace only ope­rating in the Soul, in the hidden Man of the Heart, that is seen only to God: but it is that which operates also in the Life and Conversation, and in all our Concerns with Men; so as to appear to Men. Accordingly, our Savi­our directs us in Matth. v.16. Let your Lights shine before Men, that they may see your good Works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. And truly Grace in lively vigorous Exercise cannot be hid long; but it will break forth as the Light. True Grace is true Wisdom, and that will make a Man's Face to shine, Eccl. viii.1. Yea, as the same inspired Preacher tells us, Prov. iv.18. and with which I now conclude; The Path of the Just is as the shin­ing Light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day.

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SERMON II.

III. I Now proceed, as I proposed, more particularly to describe the gracious Saint, that is thus waiting for the Coming of his Lord: Who has his Loins girded about, his Lights burning, and so is like unto them who wait for their Lord, when he shall return from the Wedding.

And here,

1. He is strong in the Faith as to his Lord's Coming, at Death, and the Judgment.

As for the Dissolution of Nature by Death, all Men, whether good or bad, believe they shall come to it. The Living know that they shall die, because they see People dying continually; and all the past Generations gone off the Stage. But then, the true Saint not only believes that it is appointed for all Men once to die; but that after Death is the Judgment: A Day in which God has appointed to judge the World in Righteousness by that Man Christ Jesus whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given Assurance to all Men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead, Act. xvii.31. And now the watching waiting Christian, not only gives his general Assent to these Things, that he shall die, and that there will be a Resurrection and a Judgment to come, when he, and all Mankind, must give an Account of themselves to God; but he has a realizing Sense of these Things. He sees these Things in their Reality, and in their Nearness. As the watchful Servant, who is waiting for the Coming of his Lord, with his Loins girt and his Lights burning, has not only a general distant Thought, that his Lord may come some Time or other; but he has [Page 16] realizing Apprehensions, that he will certainly come, and knows not, but that he may this very Minute knock at the Door.—Thus the true Christian, who has his Grace in lively Exercise, not only realizes Death, as what will most certainly come; but as what is hast'ning on apace to him. He always endeavours to keep up a lively Sense of the utter uncertainty of the Time when his Lord shall come by Death, whether at Evening, or at Cock-crowing, or in the Morning.—Is the watchful Christian in his Youth, he don't set Death at forty or fifty Years distance; for he is sensible that youthful Vigour, is no Security against the Arrests of Death, because Multitudes die in Youth, while their Breasts are full of Milk, and their Bones moistened with Marrow: They come forth like Flowers, and are cut down. And as he sees some dying in every Age, he looks upon himself liable every Day and Hour of his Life to the fa­tal Stroke. And if God spares his Life from Year to Year, even till old Age; yet the watchful Christian all that while looks upon himself in this State of utter Uncer­tainty as to the Time when his Lord shall call for him; and accordingly passes the whole Time of his sojourning here in the lively realizing Apprehension of this, that for aught he knows, Death may be at the Door. The watch­ful waiting Christian, in the midst of Health and Vigour won't boast so much as of a To-morrow, because he knows not what a Day may bring forth.— In short, the Christian who is in a waiting Posture, keeps Death & Judgment always in his View, as what are certain, as what are near, and for aught he knows, at the very Door: And if he in his Mind stretches Life to the longest Period, and thinks of arriving to a great old Age; yet even then he considers with what swift Wings Time passes away; and that his Years spend as fast as Days and Nights can roll over: and that even fourscore Years, are but as a Tale that is told, they are soon cut off, and he flees away. And the Thought hereof greatly affects him, and has a powerful and happy Influ­ence upon him. For,

[Page 17]2. The waiting Christian is above all concerned to be pre­pared for the Coming of his Lord.

He views Death and Judgment in their infinite Impor­tance, as well as great Reality. His Heart is deeply affected with the Thoughts of dying, and of appearing before the Judgment-Seat of Christ, to give Account of all Things done in the Body. Death and Judgment appear awful to him. Every Time he thinks of them (which is very frequent) it gives a Solemnity of Spirit; and fills him with Concern, that he may be prepared for such an awful Hour as that, when he shall pass out of Time into Eternity, and appear before his Judge, and have his eternal State determined. He is so far from making light of Death, that he ever thinks and speaks of it with Seriousness. He considers it as the grand decisive Hour, which fixes his State for Eternity, either in Happiness or Misery. The great Concern therefore of his whole Life, is to prepare for Death: and he looks upon his Life spent to good Purpose, only when it is in Preparation for Death and Judgment. His Heart is very sensibly affected with the Thought of dying in his Sins▪ in as much as then there will be no Hope, or Help for him: that then the Day of Grace will be over, and the Door of Mercy will be shut; and there will remain, nothing but a fearful look­ing for of Judgment, and fiery Indignation to devour him: The Thought of which fills him with Amazement.

On the other Hand, he has the most pleasing View of the Happiness of all those who are well prepared for their great Change. And Oh! what a pleasing Sensation has he of those Words! Rev. xiv.13. And I heard a Voice from Heaven, saying to me, write, Blessed are the Dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their Labours, and their Works do follow them. Accordingly, the Desire of his Soul is, that he may die in the Lord; that he may die the Death of the Righteous. But then, he don't content himself with the bare Desire of this, like Balaam of old; but his Concern is such, as puts him upon giving all Diligence, that he may be prepared for the awful Change; and that he may be found of his Judge in Peace.

[Page 18]Accordingly,

3. He who is waiting for the Coming of his Lord, is above all concerned that he may be found in him, and interested in the Redemption he has wrought out for us.

He has a lively Sense of his own Sin and Corruption; and plainly sees, that if God should strictly mark his Ini­quity against him, he should not be able to stand in the Judgment; and that if he was to answer personally at the Bar of God, for his own Defects and Failings, and for his grosser Sins, he must be condemned: And that if he be found only with his own imperfect Righteousness, he could never be justified. Considering therefore that Death is hastning, and that Judgment follows upon it; the great Concern of his Soul is, that he may be found in Christ; because there is no Condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. His Concern is to receive him as he is offered to him in the Gospel; so as to be interested in him, and in his meritorious Obedience and Death, to be cloathed with the white Raiment of his Righteousness, that the Shame of his own Nakedness may not appear. His Con­cern is with the Apostle, that he may at that Day be found in Christ; not having on his own Righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is thro' the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith, Phil. iii.9. He has too great a Sense of his own Sins & Failings, to expect a legal Justification before God; and therefore he is con­cerned to obtain it in the Way of the Gospel, even by Faith in Jesus Christ; a Faith that is made perfect by Works. Accordingly he looks to Christ for Righteousness and Strength, trusting to be assisted, pardoned, and accepted only for his Sake▪ building all his Hopes of Heaven and Happiness, upon the Covenant of Grace, that is establish­ed in his Blood.

4. He watches, prays, and strives against every Thing that would render him unfit to meet his Lord.

Having a constant realizing Sense of his Lord's Com­ing, he is very much concerned least he should come and [Page 19] find him unprepared. And he is sensible that Sin is the Thing that most of all disqualifies him for meeting Christ at Death or Judgment. This is therefore what the watch­ful Christian is most afraid of; and what he is above all concerned to be delivered from. The workings of Sin within him, and the out-breakings of it, in his Words and Actions, are the Burden of his Soul, and what he groans to be delivered from; for he finds how they break in up­on him, and discompose and ruffle, and so unfit him for the Coming of Christ. Whenever therefore he feels cor­rupt Nature rising, and he himself giving Way to Pride or Passion, or Envy, or Discontent, or Worldly-minded­ness, or Filthiness, he rouzes himself out of such a Frame, with the Thought, that the Master is coming, and how shall I look him in the Face with such filthy Lusts as these upon me! He therefore resists and opposes them; and▪ calling in the Help of the divine Spirit, gets the Mastery of them: so as to put off the old Man which is corrupt according to deceitful Lusts; and to be dying to Sin every Day.

5. The waiting Christian diligently attends every Duty God calls him unto, doing whatever his Hands find to do with his Might, considering there is no Work nor Device, nor Know­ledge, nor Wisdom, in the Grave whither he is going.

The Servant who would be ready for his Lord's Com­ing, considers what his Lord has given him to do, before he comes and calls him to an Account: and this he sets himself about immediately, and without any Delay, least his Lord should come before it be done. He don't leave Things to be done next Year or next Month, or so much as till to Morrow, that can as well be done to Day: For, for aught he knows his Soul may be this Night required of him. He is ambitious of being able to say at the Com­ing of his Lord, in some good Measure as Christ himself did, when he was about to leave the World, Joh. xvii.4. I have glorified thee on Earth, and finished the Work which thou gavest me to do. Accordingly, he considers what Work God has given him to do, in and by which he [Page 20] might serve and glorify him. That is, he considers his general and his particular Calling, and the Duties that result therefrom; and attends the same with all Diligence.

Thus the watching waiting Christian attends diligently the Duty of his general Calling.—That is, at he is call­ed to be a Saint, to be a Christian, he endeavours to be such an one. He endeavours, that the Life he lives here in the Flesh, be by the Faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us; and is concerned to live in all Things as the Grace of God teaches him; which is to live soberly and righteously and godly in the present World: And the Way he takes to make his Calling and Election sure, is to give Diligence to grow in all the Graces and Virtues of the Christian Life, adding to Faith, Vertue, to Vertue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly-kindness, and Charity.

But then, the Christian who would be ready for his Lord's Coming, diligently attends the Business of his par­ticular Calling.—He is not carried away with such a mistaken Notion, that he must lay aside his worldly Bu­siness and Concerns to prepare for Death and Eternity: but rather endeavours to do it after such a Manner, that may forward rather than obstruct his Preparations for the same. Accordingly, he will be diligent in his worldly business; but will take Care not to be too much cumbred therewith. Altho' he sees he must have his Head and his Hands in the World, the one to project, and the other to perform the Business thereof; yet he endeavours as much as possible to keep his Heart out of it. He endea­vours to do the Business of his Calling, not from an inor­dinate Love of the World; but from a Sense of Duty, and in Subordination to his spiritual Interest, and in such a godly Sort, as to be ready for his Lord's Coming, even altho' he should be found in his Shop, or in his Field, or in any lawful Business whatsoever.

Moreover, the Christian who would be always ready and even waiting for the Coming of his Lord, will consider [Page 21] the several Stations & Relations he stands in to his Fellow-Creatures, and the various Duties that result therefrom; and is concerned to be constantly and faithfully discharging the same.

Thus, if he be a Ruler, he rules in the Fear of God, considering he himself, is subject and accountable to the great Ruler of the Universe. If he be among the ruled, he submits to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's Sake, leading a quiet and peceable Life in all Godliness and Honesty.—Is he a Minister of the Gospel, and the Pastor of a Flock? out of Love to Christ, and out of Love to precious Souls, he feeds the Sheep, and feeds the Lambs, with Knowledge and Understanding, with all Diligence and Faithfulness, as One who must give an Account.— Or does he belong to the Flock? he will esteem his faithful Minister very highly in Love for his Works Sake; will duly attend his Ministrations, and hearken to the Counsels of God that shall be brought to him. And while his Minister freely sows to him spiritual Things, he will not think it a great Thing if he shall reap or receive of his carnal Things.— Again, is he an Housholder? he will walk in his House wisely and in a perfect Way, maintaining Religion, good Order and Go­vernment in his Family, resolving with Joshua, and taking Care, that as for him and his House they will serve the Lord. Is he a Parent? he is careful to instruct his Children, and bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. Is he a Child? he honours his Father and his Mother — Is he a Master? he renders to his Servants that which is just and equal, knowing that he also has a Master in Heaven, that he expects will quickly call for him.—Is he a Servant? he obeys his Master in all lawful Things; not with Eye-service as Men pleasers, but in Singleness of Heart fearing God, and doing all as unto Christ.

Again, is the waiting Christian rich in this World? he don't trust in these uncertain Riches, but in the living God; and is rich in good Works; laying up in Store a good Foun­dation against the Time to come.—Is he Poor? he is content, trusting in God, and casting all his Cares upon him; en­deavouring [Page 22] that he may be rich in Faith, and so an Heir of the Kingdom.

Finally, under this Head; Is there any Thing to be said, testified, or done by him, necessary for perpetuating the Memory of Things, or for the Preservation of Peace among Brethren, and Neighbours, or for the preventing any Injustice after his Decease? he will take effectual Care to have it done without Delay. And be sure the Christian that is in a proper waiting Posture will set his own House, and all his outward Affairs in Order, making such Distri­butions and Settlements of his worldly Goods, as he sees necessary to do Justice to his Family & Friends, and to all with whom he is concerned: And won't leave such an important Affair as that of making his Will, to be done, even when his Lord actually knocks at the Door, and calls him away immediately. — Thus the watching waiting Christian, is for having every Thing done, that his Lord expects or requires should be done against his Coming.

6. The waiting Christian sets more and more loose from the World, and all Things in it; which he expects speedily to take an everlasting Farewell of.

The realizing Views of Death, Judgment and the World to come, give the Christian a lively Sense of the Vanity of the World, and of all earthly Enjoyments, and begets an holy Indifferency in the Soul to all Things here below.—He considers, that whenever the Master shall knock by his Messenger Death, he must leave all behind him; and the Places which now know him, shall know him no more: And that he must go as naked out of the World, as he came into it. And therefore as the Christian is in certain Expectation of this in a little Time, his Affections all cool to the World, and the Things which are in it. If Riches increase, he don't set his Heart upon them; because he considers they are uncertain at best; and that in a little Time he must certainly leave them. And on the other Hand, if he meets with Poverty, Disappointments and Afflictions in the World, he bears them with Patience, and Contentment, considering the Time is short, and that his [Page 23] Redemption draweth near.—In short, the waiting Christian so realizes the Brevity and Uncertainty of humane Life, that he looks upon himself but as in a sojourning State, travelling thro' this World as fast as the Wings of Time can carry him; and looks upon his House not as his Home, but only as an Inn, for a Way-faring Man to lodge in, as it were for a Night: And what Conveniences, and Comforts he finds, he accepts them thankfully at the Hands of a kind Providence. And whatever Inconveni­ences or Troubles he meets with, he submits quietly to them; hoping in a little Time to get to his Journey's End, to his heavenly Father's House, where he shall meet with all, that he can desire.

7. Accordingly the waiting Christian has his Affections more and more set upon God and Christ, and Things above.

His Treasure is in Heaven, and his Heart is there also: yea, his Conversation is in Heaven, from whence he looks for the Saviour, which is Christ Jesus the Lord. He consi­ders Christ is coming: And this draws forth his Soul in longing Desires after him; saying with the Psalmist, Psal. xl.2. My Soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I come and appear before him? Moreover, he thinks of Heaven, and this puts him into an heavenly Frame. He loves to contemplate the Glories of Heaven, and he loves to speak of Heaven, where he hopes to be in a little Time, with all the Saints that are gone before: And this puts him upon labouring more and more after the heavenly Temper. Having the Promises, and so the realizing Views of this blessed and glorious State, he is for cleansing himself yet more and more from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God. And the nearer he draws to the heavenly World, the more of Holiness, Humility, Love and Charity, appear in him, so that Heaven seems to be begun in his Soul, and some Rays of the heavenly Light and Glory begin to dawn upon him.

[Page 24]Thus I have given you some Description of the Saint who has his Loins girded, his Lights burning; and is as a Man that waiteth for the Coming of his Lord.

IV. I now proceed, as I proposed, briefly to set forth the Blessedness of that Servant who is in such a watching waiting Frame for the Coming of his Lord.

Blessed is that Servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find watching. And surely of all the Men in the World, these are the blessed Men: And to set forth the Blessedness of such, let me say,—

1. Such are in high Favour with God.

These are the blessed Ones, whose Transgressions are for­given, and whose Sins are done away in the Blood of Christ; so that they are justified freely by God's Grace, thro' the Redemption there is in him: And they are ac­cepted in the dearly beloved Son of God. God the Father is their Friend & Father: Jesus Christ is their Redeemer and Saviour: and the Holy Ghost is their Sanctifier, Guide and Comforter. But then, as I am speaking, not only of true Christians in general (of which this is their happy State) but of first-rate Christians more especially, even of such, who instead of slumbring and sleeping, as even the wise Virgins did; are watching and waiting for their Lord's Coming: So these, we may consider as intitled to some distinguishing Marks of Favour. These are the Servants of the most high God, that he delights to honour. These are his Jewels, and his Treasure: These are the Saints in the Earth and the excellent Ones, in whom is his De­light. And God oftentimes confers many Marks of his special Favour upon them in this Life, if not always in Temporals, yet in spiritual Blessings: They have Life, spiritual Life: yea, they have it more abundantly, Joh. x.10.

2. Blessed are such watching waiting Christians, as they are in the most desirable Frame to live in, let it be never so long.

[Page 25]It may seem a Paradox to some, to tell them it is a blessed Thing to be always tho'tful of Death, and a blessed State, and to be constantly looking and waiting for that great Change. Some Persons are so far from thinking it a blessed State, that they look upon it as a very uneasy Posture to be in, & strive all they can, by Company, Diversions, or Busi­ness, to croud such gloomy melancholy Thoughts out of their Minds. And as to some, it is a constant Burden upon their Spirits; and the servile Fear hereof takes away all the Comforts of Life. Hence we read, Heb. ii.15. of those, who thro' Fear of Death, were all their Life-time subject to Bondage. But he who will seriously consider of the Matter, will find that the Thoughts of Death, and being in a wachful Frame, getting ready for the Coming of Christ, is the most blessed Frame we can be in, during the whole Course of Life, stretched out to the longest Pe­riod. If a Man should live Threescore Years and ten, yea, if by Reason of Strength, he should attain to Four­score Years; yet the most desireable Way of Living for that Man from his Youth-up, would be to have his Loins girded, and his Lights burning, and he as one waiting for the Coming of his Lord; and to be in Readiness for him, as if he was actually at the Door. Never does a Man live to so good Purpose. as when he is in actual as well as habitual Readiness for the Coming of Christ. And Oh! what a blessed Frame would People be in, did they live always in the near Views of Death, Judgment, and Eter­nity! And he who lives in the nearest & most realizing Views hereof, is the most blessed Man, as he is in the most blessed Way of living. For,

1. He lives most to the Glory of God.

He walks the closest with God, and lives the nearest to him. He has the most tender Concern for his Honour, and the Interest of Christ, and is most careful to live up to his Christian Character. Such Men who are in a watching waiting Posture, are the Men whose Consciences are tender, and are very fearful of every Thing that is offensive to God, or would bring Dishonour to his Name: [Page 26] They live the most remote from Sin of any; and most careful to observe the divine Precepts; yea, and to a­bound in the Fruits of Righteousness and Holiness, which are by Jesus Christ to the Praise and Glory of God.

2. Such Men live more to the Good and Benefit of others.

According to the near and realizing Views Men have of the Coming of Christ, will their Tempers towards one another be corrected. How does Pride and Envy, Wrath and Hatred subside, and Clamour & Evil-speaking grow silent, when Christ our Lord by the Messenger of Death appears to be at the Door? And how does Love and Good-will to all Men begin to rise and glow in the Hearts of Saints, when they by some evident Tokens see Death hastning upon them? And what a forgiving, and asking Forgiveness? And what a Care to repair every Injury they have done, and to give all Christian Satis­faction, where they have given Offence; when in the near Views of Death and Judgment? Which shews, that if Christians were always in such a waiting Posture, they would live more up to the Christian Law of Love to one another. Then Christians would have a stricter Regard to Truth and Justice in all their Concerns one with ano­ther, and abound in all Acts of Kindness and Charity to the proper Objects thereof; and endeavour to be of all the Benefit to Mankind they can, by their Counsels and Instructions, and Prayers, and every kind Office. And in short, will at such a Time exhibit a bright Example of all Christian Graces and Vertues; and set forth the Beau­ties and Glories of Religion, so as to recommend the same to the Esteem and Choice of others. When does Religion appear so amiable and excellent, as in a Servant waiting for the Coming of his Lord, full of Faith, full of Love to God, and Charity to Men, & with an Heart emptied of the World; but full of God and Christ, full of Heaven, and heavenly Conversation: And at the same Time acting with Dili­gence, Care and Fidelity in every Station and Relation of Life? Insomuch that if it was not for the horrible Cor­ruptions & Prejudices of Mens Hearts against the true [Page 27] Religion of Christ, every one would be enamoured by his Example. Christians in a truly watching & waiting Frame, will so cause their Light to shine before Men, that others seeing their good Works, will be strongly induced to glo­rify our Father which is in Heaven.

3. Such a watching waiting Frame is much for their own Peace and Comfort.

The Loins girded about, and the Lights burning, what is it, but Grace in the several Branches of it, in lively Exercise? And surely there is nothing that affords such true Peace, such real Pleasure, and solid Satisfaction to the Soul, as this. Her Ways are Ways of Pleasantness, and all her Paths are Peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her, Prov. iii.17, 18. Whatever the vain, carnal, thoughtless World may think of it; yet it is certain, that no Men do so ef­fectually consult their own Peace and Comfort in this World, as they who are in a watching waiting Frame for the Coming of Christ, and have every Thing ready for his most sudden Appearance. When does the Man live so near to God; when does he live so like to God, or en­joy such Communion with him, as when Faith, and Hope, and Charity, are drawn forth into lively Exercise? More­over in such a Way, the Christian is most likely to see God's reconciled Face, and to enjoy the Evidences of his Love; Yea, and to walk up & down in the Light of his Countenance, which puts more Gladness in the Heart, than when Corn and Wine and Oil are increased. Psal. iv.6, 7.

3. Such watching waiting Servants are blessed as they are in the Way to a peaceable and quiet, and sometimes to a joy­ful Death.

The Saint by realizing Death, by bringing it near and preparing for it; gets at length reconciled to it: so that the Terror of it vanishes: for as to all such, the Sting of Death, which is Sin, is taken away; and being thus disarmed, it ceases to terrify them. These watching Christians are the perfect, and the Upright in the Earth: [Page 28] and mark the perfect Man, and behold the Upright, for the End of that Man is Peace, Psal. xxxvii.37. Christians, who are waiting and in actual Readiness for the Coming of Christ, when he knocks at the Door, they will not be surprized, nor put into any hurrying Confusion; but will with all Calmness receive the Message. Such are willing to wait all the Days of their appointed Time till their Change shall come: But when it actually comes, they are ready to say with good Simeon of old, Now, Lord, lettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace, according to thy Word, for mine Eyes have seen thy Salvation, Luk. xxix.29, 30. Ac­cordingly, such are enabled with an holy Serenity, as well as Stedfastness of Faith, to commend their Spirits into the Hands of God who gave them; and into the Hands of Christ, who redeems and saves them, saying with holy Stephen, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. Yea, sometimes at the near Approach of Death, they are filled with Joy, and are enabled in holy Triumph to say, with the Apostle, 1 [...] 55, 56, 57. O Death, where is thy Sting! O Grave, where is thy Victory! the Sting of Death is Sin, and the Strength of Sin is the Law; but Thanks be to God that giveth us the Victory thro' our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Such are blessed as they are in the Way not only of being received to Heaven; but of receiving distinguishing Marks of Honour from their Lord.

Blessed are those Servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: Verily, I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them set down at Meat and will come forth and serve them. As my Text goes on. What a wonder­ful, and even ashonishing Representation is this of the condescending Favour of Christ, and of the very distin­guishing Honour he will do to such watchful waiting Christians! How surprizing would it be to a faithful humble Servant, to see his Master upon his coming home, so pleased with the Faithfulness and Care of his Servant, in having all Things in such Readiness against his coming; as to gird himself, his Cloaths about him, and cause his Servant to sit down to Meat, and he the Master, to come [Page 29] forth and serve him, and wait upon him? And yet, by such a Similitude, our blessed Lord is pleased to represent the distinguishing Favour he will shew to such Servants, such Christians, as are in all Readiness for his Coming. All true Christians shall be distinguished from the rest of the World at Death: For their Souls shall no sooner leave their Bodies▪ than they shall be conducted by Angels to Abraham's Bosom, to the Paradice of God. And altho' their Bodies, like the Bodies of other Men, shall lie down in the Grave and see Corruption; yet here is the blessed Difference, that while others shall rise to Shame and ever­lasting Contempt, these shall rise to Life, glorious and im­mortal: their Bodies fashioned like unto Christ's glorious Body. And how blessed will they be at the Judgment, when Christ their Lord and Judge shall place them at his Right Hand, and then pronounce the blessed Euge, Well done, good and faithful Servant, upon each of them, saying, Thou hast been faithful in a few Things, I will make thee Ruler over many Things, enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord, Matth. xxv.21. Observe, it is not said, the Joy of thy Lord enter into you, but enter ye into the Joy. The Joy is too great to enter into them, and therefore they are to enter into that, so as to be even swallowed up in an Ocean of Joy. Ac­cordingly, they shall ascend with Christ to Heaven, and be received to the blessed Mansions he has there prepared for them: In whose Presence is fulness of Joys, and at whose Right Hand are Pleasures for evermore.

But as I am speaking more especially of first Rate Christians, who are eminent for their Watchfulness, and Readiness for the Coming of Christ; so we may consider such, as receiving higher Marks of Favour than other Saints. They shall be not only barely admitted into Hea­ven: but shall have an Entrance ministred to them abun­dantly into the Everlasting Kingdom. They shall not squeeze thro' the Gates into the Celestial City; but they shall have an open Entrance, and this ministred to them abundantly: And they, instead of some of the lower Seats, shall be advanced to the higher Mansions. Such Distinction [Page 30] will be made among the Saints: For as one Star differeth from another in Glory, so also is the Resurrection, and Glo­rification of the Saints, 1 Cor. xv.41, 42. And then Christ their Lord, will as it were make them to sit down to Meat, and serve them: for he will make most free and full Com­munications of himself, and of the Tokens of his Love unto them, far beyond all that we can describe. "For Eye hath not seen, nor Ear heard, neither hath it so much as entred into the Heart of Man to conceive, what glorious Things are prepared and laid up for such:" And so I forbear. And what has been said, is abundantly sufficient to set forth the Blessedness of every watching and waiting Christian.

And thus I have finished the several Things I proposed to consider in the Text. I have told you, what it is to have your Loins girded, and your Lights burning; and described the Servant who is thus waiting for the Coming of his Lord: And have hinted something at the Blessedness of such Servants. I say, hinted at it, because it is beyond us to give an adequate Description thereof.

And now, altho' the Subject affords many useful Heads by Way of Application; yet the Time and Season will not allow it: But Oh! may the divine Spirit apply what has been said to your Hearts and mine: That we may be found among those blessed Servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find thus watching. And therefore wav­ing all other Heads of Improvement, I shall only apply it to the special Occasion that has brought me hither this Day.

APPLICATION.

GOD in his holy Providence has at length come and knocked, and called for his Servant, your venerable and aged Pastor, whom, we trust, had his Loins girded, and his Lights burning, and was in Readiness for the Coming of his Lord. It was late in the Night naturally and literally, as well as siguratively speaking, that our Lord came to him, and all on a sudden: But, we trust, he found him watching; and has received him among his blessed and [...] Servants.

[Page 31]The great Former and Father of Spirits, formed and fitted him for the People of this Place, and then bestowed him upon you; and continued him for many Years, even to a great old Age, as an eminent Blessing to you. His natural Capacities, his acquired Accomplishments, and his gracious Endowments; not only rendred him a pleasant and agreable Companion; but gained him a gene­ral Esteem and Respect, and rendered him eminently, and extensively useful in a great variety of Ways, relating both to the temporal and the spiritual Interests of this People, and of both Ministers and People in Neighbour­ing Towns and Churches. He was eminently fitted for this Place, in its Infant State, and when you were few in Number; as was your Case when he came first among you: when you needed a Man of such Wisdom & Prudence to advise and assist you in your outward and civil, as well as spiritual Concerns. And I believe it will be allowed, that but few People have had so great Help, Benefit, and Comfort of a Minister, in all Respects, as this People have had in Mr. HANCOCK.

He had an uncommon vivacity of Spirit, that made him diligent, active and chearful, and ready to every good Work, that God called him unto.—He was early in the Morning, and early in the Week, at his Studies, and in his Preparations for the Sabbath; in which he made it ap­pear that he gave Attendance to Reading, and Medita­tion, by the sound Doctrines, the wise Counsels, and the moving Exhortations, with which he entertained you, from Sabbath to Sabbath: In which, he shewed himself a ready Scribe, well instructed to the Kingdom of Heaven, bringing out of his Treasure, like the good Housholder, Things new and old.

And by his diligent and early Application to his Studies, he redeemed Time for many other useful Services, both of a private and publick Nature. You your selves, and your Fathers, who are dead and gone, if they were here, could testify how much Time he has employed, how much Evil he has prevented, and how much Good he has done, by his seasonable, cautious, and wise Counsels, in your [Page 32] Town Affairs; and in your Domestick and Family Con­cerns.

You must be sensible he was a great Lover of Peace, and a wise Counsellour of Peace: and having an uncom­mon Sagacity and Penetration, saw when the Cloud of Contentions first began to arise, even altho' it was no big­ger than a Man's Hand; and by his wise pacifick and seasonable Interpositions, would disperse the same.

Few Ministers who have been so much concerned in the various Affairs of their People, as he was in your's; and yet I never heard him taxed of being in the least Measure a faulty busy Body in other Mens Matters; for you your selves were so sensible of his Wisdom and Good­ness, of his Capacity and Readiness to direct and advise you that, as I have understood, you seldom or never en­gaged in any important or difficult Affair, without con­sulting him upon it.

And Oh! what a happy Talent had he to prevent Quarrels and Differences among you: to reconcile Diffe­rences when begun; and to root out the Seeds of Dis­cord when sown among Brethren and Neighbours!

That facetious Temper, and Turn of Wit, which was natural to him, and which altho' some People of a diffe­rent Make, might think at some Times, abounded; yet, this must be said, that he made a very good Use of it in general; and that it served for many valuable Purposes. How did it serve to scatter the Clouds of Melancholy that hung upon People's Spirits, and stir up a pleasant Chearfulness in them? How did he hereby soften Mens Tempers, and correct their ill Humours, and bring the Fretful, the Angry, and the Revengeful, into a calm, peaceable and forgiving Frame?

And as you have had the Character of a peaceable Peo­ple, I believe you will readily grant, that it has been very much owing to the pleasant, prudent, and pacifick Coun­sels of your deceased Pastor: And if you should now fall into unhappy Contentions, you will abundantly confirm the same: But I pray God you may show your selves to be still under the happy Influence of his Counsels, and [Page 33] Example, by continuing in Peace, and preserving your Character.

But then, the very useful Talents of this deceased Ser­vant of the Lord, were not confined to the Church and Town of Lexington; for many Towns and Churches un­der their Difficulties, have been well instructed, greatly assisted, and comforted by him. Great Resort has been to him for Counsel and Assistance; so that the Care of the Neighbouring Churches in a Manner came upon him. But few Ministers have been so much employed in Ecclesiasti­cal Councils as he was; and especially in Ordination Councils: For having been the Senior Minister of this County for near thirty Years, he has been even as a Bishop among us; and presided in most of the Ordina­tion Councils for a great Number of Years. Upon how many he has laid his Hands in the solemn Seperation of them to the Work of the Ministry, I know not; but I understand, that he himself, a few Days before his Death, observed, that he had given the solemn Charge to twenty one Ministers; which I believe no Minister in this Coun­try besides has been able to say.

And he was greatly beloved and honoured by his Bre­thren, & Sons in the Ministry; being a Lover of Hospitality, and a Lover of good Men, there was great Resort to his House, by People of various Characters; where they met with hearty Welcomes: and scarce ever went away with­out some instructive, as well as exhilerating Observations; so that Ministers of every Age loved his Company, and sought to him for Advice.—And such was the Goodness of God to him, and to his Family, as well as unto you, that altho' he lived to a great Age; yet he did not out-live his Usefulness: For he retained his Spirits, and the Powers of his Mind, with uncommon Vivacity & Vigour, even to the last.

In less than a Fortnight before his Death, he gave the solemn Charge to a young Minister in a Neighbouring Town,* with the same Solemnity, & Fervency of Spirit, with [Page 34] which he was wont to perform such Services, and with a Vigour that was uncommon for such Years. And you your selves are Witnesses, with what Zeal and fervour of Spirit he addressed you the Lord's-Day before his Death, when he would have you wist, or be sensible, that he was about his heavenly Father's Business, and was for doing it with all his Might; considering, that he, as well as others, by Reason of the Sin of Adam, was subjected to Death, when his labouring Time would all be over, there being no Work, nor Device, nor Knowledge, nor Wisdom, in the Grave, whether he saw himself a going.* Altho' the Spriteliness of his Temper, continued in a great Measure; yet he by bodily Infirmities had frequent Monitions of his approaching Dissolution. He expected his Lord would quickly knock at the Door; and therefore when called to publick Services of late Years; he would frequently express his Apprehensions of its being the last of that Kind of Service he should ever perform. And altho' the Har­bingers of Death took him in his bodily Sleep; and he was little more than waked out of that Sleep by Extremity of Pain, before the Sleep of Death came upon him; yet we trust he was ready for such a sudden Call; and is gone to receieve the Reward of a faithful Servant; I heard a Voice from Heaven, saying unto me, write, Blessed are the Dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their Labours, and their Works do follow them, Rev. xiv.13.

And now, may the bereaved Family be supported by the believing realizing View of this. May they be thank­ful that God has continued him to such an advanced Age, so great a Comfort and Blessing to them: and may they be comforted with this Thought, that his Departure, and Absence from them, is to be present with the Lord.

[Page 35]May the Handmaid of the Lord, who is left desolate and afflicted in her declining Days, be in a particular Manner supported under a Sense of the distinguishing Fa­vour of God, that she, and her now deceased Husband, were continued so many Years, as Heirs together of the Grace of Life. And now, since they are parted by Death, may she find her Maker, and her Redeemer is her Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his Name.—And may the Grace and Goodness which was so eminent in her godly Ancestors, and which we are perswaded is in her also, be made very conspicuous in this Day of Visitation; and let her be a Follower of them, of her deceased Husband, and of her gracious Sons, deceased, wherein they followed Christ; and of all those who thro' Faith & Patience do inherit the Promises. May she be in daily Expectation of, and Prepa­ration for, the Coming of the Son of Man; that whenever he knocks, she may open to him immediately In the mean Time, may she be supported under the Pains & Infirmities of Age; have great comfort in her loving & dutiful Chil­dren that survive: And may this People continue to shew the Kindness of God unto her.

And may the Children of the Deceased, be thankful to God for so good a Father; for all his wise Counsels, his constant Cares, and good Example, and daily Prayers for them. And may they know the God of their Fa­thers, and serve him with a perfect Heart: And may the Blessings of the everlasting Covenant, be entailed upon them and upon theirs after them. Oh! what Support and Comfort do the Words of the Psalmist afford to the godly Children of godly Parents, Psal. ciii.15, 18. As for Man his Days are as Grass, as the Flower of the Field, so he flourisheth; for the Wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the Place thereof shall know it no more: But the Mercy of the Lord is from Everlasting to Everlasting upon them that fear him, & his Righteousness unto CHILDRENS CHILDREN, to such as keep his Covenant and his Testimonies, and that re­member his Commandments to do them.

[Page 36]And may the only surviving Son of this Family, be distinguished as much by the Riches of divine Grace, as he is by the Bounties of divine Providence; and abound in spiritual, as he does in temporal Blessings. As he is rich in this World, may he be rich in Faith, rich in good Works: May he be directed and assisted in all his Acts of Piety, Charity, and Christian Liberality; and so make to himself Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, that when he shall fail, they may receive him to everlast­ing Habitations: And may he be led to erect such last­ing Monuments of true Christian Piety and Charity, as may procure to him a Name better than that of Sons or Daughters; even an everlasting Name, that shall not be blotted out.

And now, may this Church and Congregation of the Lord be suitably affected with this holy Providence. May you be thankful, that God bestowed such a precious Gift upon you, and that he continued him so many Years, ministring to your Souls in the Strength of the Lord God; and that being planted in the House of the Lord, he flourished in the Courts of the Lord, and brought forth Fruit in old Age. And that when God made such a sorrowful Breach upon you, in the premature Death of his amiable and excellent Son, that was settled as a Colleague with him; * instead of sinking in such a Day of Adversity, or having his gray Hairs brought with Sorrow to the Ground; the Spirit of the aged Father revived, his Health returned, and his Strength was so far confirmed, that he has for near thirteen Years since, carried on the Work of the Ministry among you, with as much or more Zeal and fervency of Spirit, than ever.

[Page 37]But at length the Time came that he must die; so that now ye shall see his Face, and hear his Voice, no more. Well, remember how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent! Oh! remember the many faith­ful Counsels, and pathetick Exhortations, which he has delivered to you in the Name of the Lord from this Desk; as well as in a more private Manner. And may the Thought of his sudden Death, and that he can call upon you no more, serve to bring many Things to your Minds, which he has said to you, and impress them more deeply upon your Hearts than ever: by which Means, tho' he be dead, it may be said, that he still speaketh unto you.

And now, since God has made such a Breach upon you, you will be ready to say, What shall we do? and how shall the Breach be repaired? Why, you must remem­ber, that he who has made this Breach upon you, is stiled, the Repairer of Breaches, the Restorer of Paths to dwell in, Isai. lviii.12. And with him is the Residue of the Spirit. Oh, my Hearers, tho' we your Ministers are not suffered to continue by Reason of Death; yet Christ our Redeemer liveth to take Care of his Churches, and to provide for them. Well then, you must commit yourselves to him, as to the great Shepherd and Bishop of your Souls.—When John the Baptist was dead, his Disciples came and took up his Body & buried it, and went & told Jesus, Mat. xiv.12. Well, you have taken up the Body of your deceased Pastor, and buried it: and the next Thing is, to go and tell Jesus; tell him, that your Pastor is dead, and that you are as Sheep without a Shepherd; and beg of him to take the Pastoral Care of you, and guide you in every Step towards a future Settle­ment; and that he would preserve you in Peace, and not suffer you to fall out by the Way.

And here, let me tell you; that hearkening to the Ad­vice of the Text will wonderfully serve to prevent the out-breakings of a contentious Spirit, and preserve you in Peace. If your Loins be girded, and your Lights burn­ing, and you waiting for the Coming of your Lord, Oh! how would every Thing that is Contentious or Unpeacea­ble in your Tempers, subside! Surely, he who considers [Page 38] the Lord is at Hand, will be peaceable and quiet, and ex­ercise a Moderation that shall be known unto all Men.

So that the Advice of the Text is the best for you: And as it was what Christ gave to his Disciples then; so he gives to you, and to all of us, now. What I say unto you, I say, unto all, Watch, Matth. xiii.37. And as it is the Voice of Christ's Word, so is it of his Providence. The Voice of your deceased Pastor's sudden Death, to you is, Be ye also ready, for in such an Hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh, Matth. 24.44.

This then is the Exhortation that speaketh to every Age: To those who are Young, or in the middle of their Days: But it speaks most loudly to those who are advanced in Years; to have your Loins girded, your Lights burning, and you all to be in a waiting Posture for the Coming of your Lord.

The faithful Servant, who is waiting for his Master to come Home; the later it is at Night, the more strongly does he look for him, and the more careful is he to be in actual Readiness for his Coming; that nothing might be lacking, that is necessary for the due Reception of his Master, whom he expects every Minute to knock at the Door. Well, Decays of Nature, Infirmities of Age, as well as daily Observation, tell you, that your Time is short, and that Christ by his Messenger Death, is just at Hand. How then does it concern you to be ready, and even waiting for his Coming. And you should now see that Nothing be left undone any longer, that is necessary to be done by you before his Coming. If you have any worldly Con­cerns unsettled, delay them no longer. But above all, see that you settle all Affairs so far as possible between God, and your own Souls. Examine your selves afresh, whe­ther ye be in the Faith; prove and try your selves, over and over again: and cry mightily to God, to search and try you. And Oh! ye elderly People! see that your Lights be burning. Labour to shine bright in Faith, in Humility, in Meekness, in Peaceableness, in Love and Charity. Let an heavenly Temper, in a heavenly Conversa­tion, shine brighter in you than ever! which may give [Page 39] the best Evidence to your selves, and to others, that you are really going to that blessed Place.

And now, to move Young and Old, and People of every Age, to be thus really, habitually, and actually rea­dy for the Coming, the sudden Coming of Christ, I think I have said enough: And I will only add by Way of Re­collection.

That our Lord will certainly come sooner or later, to every one of us; and it is of infinite Importance to be rea­dy for his Coming, our eternal Salvation depends upon it. If we be ready when Christ comes, we shall enter with him into the Marriage Chamber, and shall be for­ever with the Lord: But if not ready at that Time, we are undone to all Eternity. When once the Master of the House is risen up, and hath shut to the Door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the Door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us: he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are, Luk. xiii.25. Well, none of us can tell how soon or suddenly he may come to us. But if he should tarry never so long, let me tell you, that we can never live to so good Purpose, as when in actual Readi­ness for the Coming of the Son of Man. It is then, my Brethren, that we live most to the Glory of God, to the Honour of Christ, to the Interest of Religion, and to the Safety, Peace, and Comfort of our own Souls. — More­over, this is the Way to prevent our being surprized at the Approach of Death; and is the most likely Way to enjoy a blessed Calm, yea, and an holy Joy in that awful Hour.

Finally, This is the Way to be commended, and abun­dantly rewarded by our Lord and Master, when he com­eth. I conclude all, with his own gracious Words, Matth. xxiv.46. Blessed is that Servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. And ℣. 38. of the Context. And if he shall come in the second Watch; or come in the third Watch, and find them so, blessed are those Servants.

AMEN.

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