Page images

lait in your

kingdom of God and his righteousness, is one of the very first

precepts of that gospel which you

have embraced. And is it no uneasiness to your mind, to know that it is the least thing in your thoughts, the

very intention? And will you hope to shelter yourself from the wrath of God, by an outward profession of christianity? Why, be well assured, that there is no man so far from salvation, as one who is got into the way of doing what good Christians do, without being inwardly converted; who have (as the apostle speaks) a form of godliness, but denying the power, not suffering christianity to make them one jot better men.

Christians, therefore, should be very careful to avoid falling into a state su dangerous. To prevent which, we should often and betimes consider, how very difficult it is to get rid of evil habits, when once we have suffered them to take deep root. A tree, which with one hand may


year, be grown so big, that all one's force shall not be able to remove it out of its place. And Christians find by fad experience, when once an evil habit of living without God has been suffered to get ground, it is no very easy matter to root it up, and master it; and yet it must be mastered, or we are for ever undone. Therefore, where Christians have been so unhappy as to fall into a careless way of living, the very best thing they can do is, to repent


be pulled up

the next may

[ocr errors]

forthwith, left the work grow too big to be undertaken, and at last they despair of ever returning to a sober mind.

This is set forth in a very lively manner by one of the Fathers, in words to this purpose: “ An hermit is carried by an angel into a “ wood, where he sees an old man cutting “ down boughs to make up a burthen; when “ it was pretty big, he attempts to carry it

away; but finding it very heavy, he lays it “ down again, cuts more wood, makes the “ burthen greater, and then in vain tries to

carry it off. Having done this several times, “ the hermit in the mean while being asto" nished at the old man's folly, the angel tells “ him, this is an exact representation of those “ Christians, who, being sensible of the bur" then of their sins, resolve to repent, but soon

grow weary, and instead of lessening their

burthen, they increase it, still resolving to “ repent, till the byrthen grows too heavy to “ be borne, and then in great despair they die “ in their fins unrepented of.”

Now this, God knows, is the case of too many, who, when they should set about the work of repentance, make it every day more difficult, by deferring it.

Those who have dedicated themselves to God betimes, and have not yet fallen into a careless way of living, would do well to consider what bitter work they are preparing for

themselves, themselves, when they forget the vows which they have made fo folemnly.

In short; without the grace of God, no man can live as becomes a Christian. The grace of God can be secured only by keeping a strict watch upon ourselves, and increased, by making use of what one has already.-They that do so, may depend upon the favour of God; and they will be sure to escape a great deal of trouble and remorfe of conscience in this world, and misery in the next.

I should now conclude; only I suspect that a great many Christians may think themselves no way concerned in what I have said upon this head. Few think themselves in


danger, who are not profligate finners. After all; men may be in great hazard of their falvation, who yet are not taken notice of for scandalous livers.

Every man may best judge for himself by such marks as these:

11. Every one who holds the truth in unrighteousness

, that is, all who do not live up to what they know to be most pleasing to God;

2dly. All who have no concern for their eternal welfare, after God has made known to us, by his Son, the rewards and punishments of another life;

3dly. All who have their hearts fo much taken up with the world, that they cannot apply themselves seriously to the care of their fouls ;

4thly. All

[ocr errors]

4thly. All who, though they pretend to serve God, yet do it with-that indifferency, that God is rather dishonoured than glorified by their service; who give scandal by their irreverence, and behave themselves before their Maker as if he were an idol, who neither heard nor saw the devotions of his worshippers ;

In short; All who live in a general neglect of their duty, though they are not guilty of such grofs fins as make them scandalous:--all these, I say, may be assured of it, that they live under God's displeasure; and their hope of salvation is nothing but a delusion.

And God grant that all who are concerned may

think of it, while it is in their power, by the help of God, to prevent the evil consequences of living without any true religion.

On the other hand; All such as are convinced, that the design of christianity is to make men holy, that they may be happy; that Jesus Christ came indeed to redeem us from the wrath to come, but that he must first redeem us from our vain conversation. Such as know, and in good earnest believe this, and are disposed to let christianity have this effect upon them, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; such as are resolved, by the grace of God, that the time past of their lives shall suffice to have wrought the will of the gentiles, that they will no longer hold the truth in unrighteousness, but will let christianity have its effect upon their lives as


well as upon their faith; such as know their own frailty, and come to God for help, and use the means of grace which he has appointed for our recovery and salvation, and find the effects of God's grace in the change that is wrought in them for the better:-All such have the comfort of knowing, that their religion is what it should be; that they have not only the form of godliness, but the power thereof: and that their portion in the world to come shall be much better than if they had continued to have walked (that is, lived) as other gentiles, or as men unconverted do, in the vanity of their minds, following their own corrupt inclications.

From which vanity, and the evil that attends it, the good Lord deliver us all, for Jesus Christ's sake. To whom, &c.


« PreviousContinue »