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But it may be all this is but-a supposition ; and there is no man so forsaken of his reason, and of common prudence, as to make such a bargain. Shion ly no man that is reasonable, no man that considers the difference between time and eternity, between a few years, and everlasting ages, can be persuaded to forego the happiness of heaven, and to fall into the hands of the living God, no not if the whole world were offered to him for consideration. Indeed there large terms of gaining the whole world, are but a suppolition, which our Saviour makes to shew the unreasonableness of most mens choice ; but in truth, and in effect, the case of finners is much worse. Among all those numerous troops of finners that go
ever made himself so wise a bargain, and though the whole world be but a pitiful price to be paid for a man's soul, yet so stupid are the greatest part of those creatures, whom we call reasonable, as to strike up a bargain for little scraps and portions of this world. There are but a few who stand upon such terms as this world thinks considerable. They are a sort of more generous sinners that damn themselves for a crown and a kingdom, that will not do an act of injustice upon lower terms than a manor or a lordship. Alas! moft men barter away their souls for a trifle ; and set their eternal happiness to sale for a thing of nought. How many are there, who, to gra. tify their covetousness, or luft, or revenge, or any other inordinate passion, are content to hazard the loss of their souls ? who will go to hell, rather than be out of the fashion : and damn themselves out of mere compliment to the company, and cannot be persuaded to leave off that foolish custom of swearing, which hath neither pleasure nor profit in it, no not to save their souls ?
Thus it is in truth, and the supposition which our Saviour here makes of gaining the whole world, is but a feigned case ; the market was never yet so high, no finner had ever yet so great a value for his immortal soul, as to stand upon such terms ; alas! in. finitely less than the whole world, a little sordid gain, VOL. X.
the gratifying of a vile luft, or an unmanly passion, the smile or the frown of a great man, the fear of singularity, and of displeasing the company ; these and such like mean and piriful considerations tempt thousands every day to make away themselves, and to be undone for ever.
I have done with the first thing, the folly of this adventure, what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? I proceed to the
Second, the severe reflexion men will make upon themselves for this their folly. What would they not give to undo this foolish bargain? What will a man give in exchange for his soul ? to redeem and recover so great a loss? And sooner or later every man will be sensible of this folly ; probably in this world, but most certainly in the other ; and then, What would a man give in exchange for his roul?
Whenever the finner comes to reflect upon him. self, and to consider seriously what he hath done, with what indignation will he look upon himself, and censure his own folly ? Like a man who in a drunken fit hath past away his estate for a trifling consideration ; the next morning when he is sober, and come to himself, and finds himself a beggar, how does he rate himself for being such a beast and a fool, as to do that in a blind and rash heat, which he will have cause to repent as long as he hath a day to live ?
Or if the finner be able to keep off these thoughts, while he is well and in health, yet when he is seized upon by sickness, and comes to ly upon a death-bed, he will then in all probability be sadly sensible what a fool he hath been. When he shall stand upon the confines of eternity, and look back upon this world, which, how considerable soever it once appeared to him, can signify nothing now that he is to leave it ; when he considers how much he hath parted with, and is now like to lose for ever, for the false and treacherous advantages of a vain world, he will then need no body to convince him of his error, to aggravate his folly to him ; he now repents heartily
that that he was not wiser, and wisheth for nothing so much, as that God would grant him time to revoke and undo this foolish bargain ; and how glad would he be to give the world back again to secure his soul, and to throw up all his unjust gain, and the advantages he hath indirectly made by fraud, or violence ? This, I doubt not, is the sense of most men, when they come to leave the world : and if it be true then, it is so now. Let us then, while the opportunities of life are before us, suffer these considerations to take place and prevail, which otherwise would wound us to the heart, and fill our souls with anguish and de. Spair in a dying hour.
O the folly and stupidity of men ! to be so transported with present and sensible things, as to have no consideration of our future state, no pity for our
world ; to be so blinded by fente, fo bribed by the pleasures of sin, which are but for a moment, as to forfeit the happiness of all ecernity! when the pleasure is past and gone, and the dear price comes to be paid down, and our souls are leaving this world, and going to take possession of that everlasting inheritance of shame and sorrow, of tribulation and anguiin, which we have purchased to ourselves by our own folly, how shall we then repent ourselves of that bargain which we have so rashly made, but can never be released from !
It is our lot, who have the souls of men commit. ted to our charge, to see many of these fad sights. O my God ! what confusion have I fometimes seen in the face of a dying man! What terrors on every fide, what restless working, and violent throws of a guilty conscience ! And how are we tempted, (who commonly are sent for too late to minister comfort to such persons) I say, how are we tempted to sow pillows under their uneasy heads ; and out of very pity and compassion, are afraid to say the worst, and are grieved at our very hearts to speak those fad truths which yet are fit for them to hear ! It is very grievous to see a man in the paroxysms of a fever, or in the extreme torment of the stone, or in the ye.
ry agony of death : But the saddest sight in the world is the anguish of a dying finner : nothing looks so ghastly, as the final despair of a wicked man, when God is taking away his Toul. '
But whatever sense men have of these things, when they come to ly upon a fick.bed ;' every sinner will most certainly be convinced, when he comes into another world. We shall then have nothing to di. vert us from these thoughts ; we shall feel that which will be a sensible demonstration to us of our own folly. Then men will curse those false and flattering pleasures which have cheated them into so much misery ; but their own folly most of all, for being so easily abused. Then would they give ten thousand worlds, if they had them, to recover the opportunity of a new choice ; but it cannot be : they parted with their souls once at a cheap rate; but no price will then be accepted for the redemption of them.
O that men would consider these things in time, for they are plain and evident to those that will consider them. Vur Saviour tells us, we have so much evidence, that he that will not be convinced by it, would not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead to testify unto him. We have Moses and the Prophets ; nay, we have the Son of God himself, who hath revealed these things to us; and if we would but attend to them, and suffer them to sink into our hearts, nothing in this world could be a temptation to any of us to do anything, or to neglect any thing, to the prejudice of our immortal souls.
Therefore, to conclude this discourse, whenever by any present pleasure or advantage, we are tempt. ed to provoke God, and to destroy our own souls ; let us consider what an unequal bargain we make, how little we purchase, and how much wę part with. al. Whenever we are sollicited to any fin, let us take time to answer the question here in the text, What is a man profited, if he mall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? &c.
The reasonableness of fearing God more
LUKE xii. 4, 5. And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of
them that kill the body, and after that have ne more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye hall fear : Fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into bell ; yea, I Say unto you, Fear him.
The first sermon on this text.
H E occasion of these words will more clear. I ly appear, if we compare this discourse of
-, our Saviour's, as it is here recorded by St. Luke, with that fuller account of it given by St. Mat. thew, chap. x. where our Saviour having called his disciples together, and given them their commislion, and the rules and instructions they were to observe in the execution of it, he warns them likewise of the opposition they would meet with, and the perse. cution that would attend them in the faithful discharge of their duty ; nevertheless he bids them take courage, and boldly to proclaim the gospel, notwithstanding all the danger and hazard it would expose them to ; but because this is very unwelcome and terrible to flesh and blood, to encounter the rage and fury of men ; therefore to strengthen their resoluti. on, and to fortify their spirits against these fears, he tells them of something inuch more terrible than the wrath or rage of men, viz. the anger and disa pleasure of God, that so he might chale away this