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Look seriously into the infallible' word; and whatsoever that foretells, believe it as if it were come to pass. The unbelief of God's threatenings and penal laws; is the perdition of souls, as well as the unbelief of promises. God giveth not false fire, when he dischargeth the cannons of his terrible comminations. If you fall not down, you shall find that the lightning is attended with the thunder, and execution will be done before your are aware. If there were any doubt of the things unseen, yet you know it is past all doubt that there is nothing else that is durable and worthy of your estimation and regard. You must be knights and gentlemen but a little while; speak but a few words more, and you will have spoke your last.
When you have slept a few nights more, you must sleep till the resurrection awake you (as to the flesh). Then where are your pleasant habitations and contents? Your honours and attendance? Is a day that is spent, or a life that is extinct, any thing or nothing? Is there any
sweetness in a feast that was eaten, or drink that was drank, or time that was spent in sports and mirth a year ago ? Certainly a known vanity should not be preferred before a probable endless joy. But when we have certainty as well as excellency and eternity; to set against certain, transitory vanity, what room is left for further deliberation? Whether we should prefer the sun before a squib, or a flash of lightning that suddenly leaves us in the dark, one would think should be an easy question to resolve.
Up then! and work while it is day : and let us run and strive with all our might! Heaven is at hand as sure as if you saw it. You are certain you can be no losers by the choice. You part with nothing for all things. You escape the tearing of your heart, by submitting to the scratching of a briar. You that will bear the opening of a vein for the cure of a fever, and will not forbear a necessary journey for the barking of a dog, or the blowing of the wind; O leap not into hell to escape the stinking breath of a scorner! Part not with God, with conscience, and with heaven, to save your purses or your flesh. Choose not a merry way to misery, before a prudent, sober preparation for a perfect, everlasting joy. You would not prefer a merry cup before a kingdom. You would let go a lesser delight or commodity for a greater here. Thus a greater sin can forbid the
exercises of a less : and shall not endless joy weigh down a brutish lust or pleasure ?
If you love pleasure, take that which is true, and full, and durable. For all that he calleth you to repentance and mortification, and necessary strictness, there is none that is more for your pleasure and delight than God; or else he would not offer you the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand; nor himself to be your perpetual delight. If you come into a room where are variety of pictures, and one is gravely reading or meditating ; and another with a cup or harlot in his hand is profusely laughing, with a gaping, grinning mouth ; would you take the latter or the former to be the picture of a wise and happy man? Do you approve of the state of those in heaven? And do you like the way that brought them thither? If not, why speak you of them so honourably? and why would you keep holy days in remembrance of them? If you do; examine the sacred records, and see whether the apostles and others that are now honoured as glorified saints, did live as you do, or rather as those that you think are too precise ? Did they spend the day in feasting, and sports, and idle talk? Did they swagger it out in pride and wealth, and hate their brethren that were not in all things of their conceits? Did they come to heaven by a worldly, formal, hypocritical, ceremonious religion; or by faith, and love, and self-denial, and unwearied labouring for their own and other men's salvation, while they became the wonder and the scorn of the ungodly, and as the offscouring and refuse of the world? Do you like holiness when it is far from you; in a dead man, that never troubled you with his presence or reproofs, or in a saint in heaven, that comes not near you? Why then do you not like it for yourselves? If it be good, the nearer the better. Your own health, and your own wealth do comfort you more than another man's : and so would your own holiness if you. had it. If you would speed as they that are now beholding the face of God, believe, and live, and wait as they did. And as the righteous God did not forget their work and labour of love for his name, so he will remember you with the same reward, if you shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end ; and be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promise;" Heb. vi. 10–12.
O did you but see what they now enjoy, and what they see, and what they are, and what they do; you would never sure scorn or persecute a saint more! If you believe, you see, though not as they, with open face. If you believe not, yet it is not your unbelief, that shall make God's word of none effect; Rom. iii. 3. God will be God if you be atheists. Christ will be Christ if you be infidels. Heaven will be heaven if you by despising it go to hell. Judgment sleepeth not when you sleep: it is coming as fast when you laugh at it, or question it, as if your eyes were open to foresee it. If you would not believe that you must die, do you think that this would delay your death one year or hour? If ten or twenty years time more be allotted you, it passeth as swiftly, and death and judgment come as surely, if you spend it in voluptuousness and unbelief, as if you watched and waited for your change.
We preach not to you ifs and ands : it is not, perhaps there is a heaven and hell ; but as sure as you are here, and must anon go hence, you must as shortly quit this world, and take up your
abode in the world that is now to us invisible. And no tongue can express how sensible you will then be of the things that you will not now be made sensible of. O then with what a dreadful view will you look before you and behind you! Behind you, upon time, and say, 'It is gone, and never will return:'and hear conscience ask
you, How you spent it, and what you did with it? Before you, upon eternity, and say, 'It is come;' and to the ungodly will be an eternity of woe. What a peal will conscience then ring in the unbelievers' ears! “Now the day is come that I was forewarned of. The day and change which I would not believe! Whither must I now go ? what must I now do? what shall I say before the Lord for all the sin that I have wilfully committed ? for all the time of mercy which I lost? How shall I answer my contempt of Christ ? my neglect of means, and enmity to a holy, serious life? What a distracted wretch was I, to condemn and dislike them that spent their lives in preparation for this day; when now I would give a thousand worlds, to be but one of the meanest of them! O that the church doors, and the door of grace, were open to me now, as once they were, when I refused to enter. Many a time did I hear of this day, and would not believe, or soberly consider of it. Many a time was I entreated to pre
pare, and I thought a hypocritical, trifling show would have been taken for a sufficient preparation. Now who must be my companions ? How long must I dwell with woe and horror? God by his ministers was wont to call to me: *How long, O scorner, wilt thou delight in scorning? How long wilt thou go on impenitently in thy folly ? And now I must cry out, 'How long, how long must I feel the wrath of the Almighty ? the unquenchable fire ! the immortal worm! Alas, for ever!' When shall I receive one moment's ease? When shall I see one glimpse of hope? O never ! never! never! Now I perceive what Satan meant in his temptations ; what sin intended; what God meant in the threatenings of his law; what grace was good for ; what Christ was sent for; and what was the design and meaning of the Gospel; and how I should have valued the offers and promises of life! Now I understand what ministers meant, to be so importunate with me for my conversion; and what was the cause that they would even have kneeled to me, to have procured my return to God in time. Now I understand that holiness was not a needless thing; that Christ and grace deserved better entertainment than contempt; that precious time was worth more than to be wasted idly; that an immortal soul, and life eternal should have been more regarded, and not cast away for so short, so base a fleshly pleasure. Now all these things are plain and open to my understanding; but, alas! it is now too late! I know that now to my woe and torment, which I might have known in time to my recovery and joy.
For the Lord's sake, and for your soul's sake, open your eyes, and foresee the things that are even at hand, and prevent these fruitless lamentations. Judge but as you will all shortly judge, and live but as you will wish that you had lived, and I desire no more.
Be serious, as if things that you say you do believe.
I know this serious discourse of another life, is usually ungrateful to men that are conscious of their strangeness to it, and taking up their portion here, are loath to be tormented before the time. This is not the smoothing, pleasing way. But remember that we have flesh as well as you, which longs not to be accounted troublesome or precise; which loves not to displease or be displeased: and had we no higher
you saw the
light and life, we should talk as men that saw and felt no more than sight and flesh can reach ; but when we are preaching and dying, and you are hearing and dying, and we believe and know that you are now going to see the things we speak of, and death will straightway draw aşide the veil, and shew you the great, amazing sight, it is time for us to speak, and you to hear, with all our hearts. It is time for us to be serious, when we are so near the place where all are serious. There are none that are in jest in heaven or hell. Pardon us therefore if we jest not at the door, and in the way to such a serious state. All that see and feel are serious; and therefore all that truly believe must be so too. Were your eyes all opened this hour to see what we believe, we appeal to your own consciences, whether it would not make you more serious than we.
Marvel not if you see believers make another matter of their salvation, than those that have hired their understandings in service to their sense; and think the world is no bigger or better than their globe or map; and reacheth no further than they can ken. As long as we see you serious about lands and lordships, and titles and honours, the rattles and tarrying irons of the cheating world, you must give us leave (whether you will or no) to be serious about the life eternal. They that scramble so eagerly for the bonds of worldly riches, and devour so greedily the dregs of sensual delights, methinks should blush (if such animals had the blushing property) to blame or deride us for being a little (alas, too little) earnest in the matters of God and our salvation. Can you not pardon us if we love God a little more 'than you love your lusts;
and if we run as fast for the crown of life, as you run after a feather or a fly? Or if we breathe as hard after Christ in holy desires, as you do in blowing the bubble of vain-glory? If a thousand pounds a year in passage to a grave, and the chains of darkness, be worth your labour; give us leave to believe that mercy in order to everlasting mercy, grace in order to glory, and glory as the end of grace, is worth our labour, and infinitely more.
Your end is narrow, though your way be broad, and our end is broad, though our way be narrow.
You build as miners in coalpits do, by digging downwards into the dark ; and yet you are laborious. Though we begin on earth, we build towards heaven, where an attractive loadstone draws