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with unmerciful labours, beyond their strength; or such as so weary them, and take up all their time, that they have not leisure so much as to pray. It is God's great mercy to servants, that he hath separated the Lord's day for a holy rest; or else many would have little rest, or means of holi
Some think that others can never labour enough for them, because they pay them wages; and yet that they are bound to do nothing themselves, even because God hath given them more wages and wealth than he hath given to others.
More particular directions are as followeth.
1. Give up yourselves by absolute subjection to God as his servants; and then you can never rest in an idle, unserviceable life.
2. Take all that you have, as God's talents, and from his trust; and then you dare not but prepare in the use of them, for your account.
3. Live as those that are certain to die, and still uncertain of time, and that know what an eternal weight of joy or misery dependeth upon the spending of your present time: and then you dare not live in idleness. Live but as men whose souls are awake, to look before them into another world, and you will say (as I have long been forced to do), O bow short are the days! How long are the nights ! How swift is time! How slow is work! How far am I behindhand! I am afraid lest my life will be finished before the work of life; and lest my time will be done, while much of my work remaineth undone.
4. Ask yourselves what you would be found doing if death now surprise you? And whether work or idleness will be best in the review?
5. Try a laborious life of well-doing awhile, and the experience will draw you on.
6. Try yourselves by a standing resolution, and engage yourselves in necessary business, and that in a set and stated course; that necessity and resolution may keep you from an idle life.
7. Forsake the company of the idle and voluptuous, and accompany the laborious and diligent.
8. Study well how to do the greatest good you can, that the worth of the work may draw you on. For they that are of little use, for want of parts, or skill, or opportunity, are
more liable to be tempted into idleners, as thinking their work is to no purpose : when the well-furnished person doth long to be exercising his wisdom and virtue in profitable well-doing.
How by Faith to overcome Unmercifulness to the Needy. IV. The fourth sin of Sodom, and of prosperity, mentioned Ezek. xvi. 49. is, They did not “ strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Against which at the present I shall give you but these brief directions.
Direct. 1. Love God your Creator and Redeemer, and then you will love the poorest of your brethren for his sake. And love will easily persuade you to do them good.
Direct. 2. Labour most diligently to cure your inordinate self. love, which maketh men care little for any but themselves, and such as are useful to themselves : and when once you love your neighbours as yourselves, it will be as easy to persuade you to do good to them as to yourselves, and more easy to dissuade you from hurting them than yourselves: (because sensuality tempteth you more strongly to hurt yourselves, than any thing doth to hurt them).
Direct. 3. Overvalue not the things of the world ; and then you will not make a great matter of parting with them, for another's good. Direct. 4. Do as you would be done by: and ask
yourselves how you would be judged of and used, if you were in their condition yourselves.
Direct. 5. Set the life of Christ and his apostles before you: : and remember what a delight it was to them to do good : and at how much dearer a rate Christ shewed mercy to you and others, than he requireth you to shew mercy at
Direct. 6. Read over Christ's precepts of charity and mercy, that a thing so frequently urged on you, may not be senselessly despised by you.
Direct. 7. Remember that mercy is a duty applauded by all the world: as human interest requireth it; so human
nature approveth it in all. Good and bad, even all the world do love the merciful : or if the partial interest of some proud and covetous persons (as the popish clergy for instance), do call for cruelty against those that are not of their mind, and for their profit; yet this goeth so much against the stream of the common interest, and the light of human nature, that mankind will still abhor their cruelty, though they may affright a few that are near them from uttering their detestation. All men speak well of a merciful man, and ill of the unmerciful.
Direct. 8. Believe Christ's promises which he hath made to the merciful, so fully and frequently in Scripture : as in Matt. v. 7. Luke vi. 36. Prov. xi. 17. Psal. xxxvii. 26, &c. And believe his threatenings against the unmerciful, that they shall find no mercy; Prov. xii. 10. James ii. 13. And remember how Christ hath described the last judgment, as passing upon this reckoning; Matt. xxv.
Direct. 9. Live not in fleshly sensuality yourselves : for else
your flesh will devour all ; and if you have hundreds and thousands a year, will leave you but little or nothing to do good with.
Direct. 10. Engage yourselves (not by rash vows, but by resolation and practice) in a stated way of doing good, and take not only such occasions as fall out unexpectedly. Set apart a convenient proportion of your estates, as God doth bless you ; and let not needless occasions divert it, and defraud the poor, and you of the benefit.
Direct. 11. Remember still that nothing is absolutely your own, but God who lendeth it you hath the true propriety, and will certainly call you to an account. And ask yourselves daily, How shall I wish at the day of reckoning, that I had expended and used all my estate ? and do accordingly.
Direct. 12. Forget not what need you stand in daily of the mercy of God; and what need you will shortly be in, when your health and wealth will fail you. And how earnestly then you will cry to God for mercy, mercy ! “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard ;" Prov. xxi. 13.
Direct. 13, Hearken not to an unbelieving heart, which will tell you that you may want yourselves, and therefore would restrain you from well-doing. If God be to be trusted
with your souls, he is to be trusted with your bodies. God trieth whether indeed you take him for your God, by trying whether
you can trust him. If you deal with him as with a bankrupt, or a deceitful man, whom you will trust no further than you have a present pawn or security, in case he should deceive you; you blaspheme him, instead of taking him for your God.
Direct. 14. Let your greatest mércy be shewed in the greatest things; and let the good of men's souls be your end even in your mercy to their bodies. And therefore do all in such a manner as tendeth most to promote the highest end. “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
How to live by Faith in Adversity.
If I should give you distinct directions, for the several cases of poverty, wrongs, persecutions, unkindnesses, contempt, sickness, &c. it would swell this treatise yet bigger than I intended. I shall therefore take up with this general advice.
Direct. 1. In all adversity remember the evil of sin, which is the cause, and the holiness and justice of God which is exercised ;' and then the hatred of sin, and the love of God's holiness and justice will make you quietly submit. You will then say, when repentance is serious," I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him ;” Micah vii. 9. And," why doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ?” Lam. ïïi. 39. “ Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord; for he hath smitten, and he will heal,” &c.; ver. 40, 41.
Object. “But doth not Job's case tell us, that some afflictions are only for trial, and not for sin ?'
Answ. No; it only telleth us that the reason why Job is chosen out at that time, to suffer more than other men, is not because he was worse than others, or as bad ; but for his trial and good. But, 1. Affliction as it is now existent in the world upon' mankind, is the fruit of Adam's sin at
first, and contained in the peremptory unremitted sentence. 2. And this general state of suffering-mankind, is now in the hand and power of Christ, who sometimes indeed doth let out more on the best than upon others, and that especially for their trial and good; but usually some sins of their own also have a hand in them, and procure the evil, though his mercy turn it to their benefit.
Direct. 2. 'Deal closely and faithfully with your hearts and lives in a suffering time,' and rest not till your consciences are well assured that no special provocation is the cause, or else do testify that you have truly repented, and resolved against it. Otherwise you may lengthen your distress, if you
leave that thorn in your sore which causeth it: or else God may change it into a worse ; or may give you over to impeni. tency, which is worst of all: or at least, you will want that assured peace with God, and solid peace of conscience, which must be your support and comfort in affliction; and so will sink under it, as unable to bear it.
Direct. 3. “Remember that the sanctifying fruit of adversity is first and more to be looked after, than either the comfort or the deliverance.' And therefore that all men, no nor all Christians, must not use the same method, in the same affliction, when as their spiritual cases differ.
A clear conscience, and one that hath walked faithfully with God, and fruitfully in the world, and kept himself from his iniquity, may bend most of his thoughts' to the comforting promises, and happy end. But one man hath been bold with wilful sin, and his work must be first, to renew repentance, and see that there be no root of bitterness left behind, and to set upon true reformation of life, and reparation of the hurt which he hath done.
Another is grown into love with the world, and hath let out his heart to pleasant thoughts and hopes of prosperity, and alienated his thoughts more than before from God, This man must first perceive his error, and hear God's voice which calleth him home, and see the characters of vanity and vexation written on the face of that which he overloved ; and then think of comfort when he hath got a cure.
Another is grown dull and careless of his soul, and bath lost much of his sense of things eternal, and is cold in love,