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none, what a grief is this to our hearts; what a perplexity to us in our administrations, not knowing whether comfort or terror be your due: and what a languishing, uncomfortable life is this to yourselves, in comparison of what you might attain to!
Rouse up yourselves, Christians, and look after higher and greater things; and think it not enough that you are barely alive. It is an exceeding righteousness that you must have if you will be saved, even exceeding all that the unsanctified do attain; for, "Except your righteousness exceed even the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven;" Matt. v. 20. But it is yet a more exceeding righteousness, that you must have if you will be confirmed, built up and abound, and would honour your profession, and cheerfully, successfully, and constantly go on in the journey, the race, the warfare that you have begun: you must then exceed yourselves, and exceed all the feeble, unstable, wavering, infant Christians that are about you: and to persuade you yet further to look after this, I shall here annex a few Motives more.
1. Consider Christian, that it is a God of exceeding, infinite greatness and goodness that thou hast to do with, and therefore it is not small and low matters that are suitable to his service. O if thou hadst but a glimpse of his glory, thou wouldst say that it is not common things that are meet for such a dreadful majesty. Hadst thou but a fuller taste of his goodness, thy heart would say, this pittance of love and service is unworthy of him. You will not offer the basest things to a king, much less to the highest King of kings. "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now to thy governor; will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person, saith the Lord of hosts ?" Mal.i. 8. "But ye have profaned it (his great name) in that ye say, the table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, his meat is contemptible; ye have said also, what a weariness is it, and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts, and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame and the sick; thus ye brought an offering. Should I accept this at your hand saith the Lord? But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is
dreadful among the heathen;" verse 12-14. If you better knew the majesty of God, you would know that the best is too little for him, and trifling is not tolerable in his service. When Nadab and Abihu ventured with false fire to his altar, and he smote them dead, he silenced Aaron with this reason of his judgment, "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people will I be glorified;" Lev. x. 1-3. That is, 'I will have nothing common offered to me, but be served with my own holy, peculiar service.' When the Bethshemites were smitten dead, fifty thousand threescore and ten men of them, they found that God would not be dallied with, and cried out, "Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?" 1 Sam. vi. 20.
2. Consider also, it was an exceeding great price that was paid for your redemption; for "you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ;" 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. It was an exceeding great love that was manifested by God the Father, and by Christ in his work of redemption; such as even poseth angels and men to study it and comprehend it; 1 Pet. i. 12. Eph. iii. 18, 19. And should all this be answered but with trifling from you? Should such a matchless miracle of love be answered with no greater love? Especially when you were purposely "redeemed from all iniquity, that you might be sanctified to Christ a peculiar people, zealous of good works;" Tit. ii. 14. It being therefore so great a price that you are bought with, remember that you are none of your own, but must glorify him that bought you, in body and spirit; 1 Cor. vi. 20.
3. Consider also, that it is not a small, but an exceeding glory, that is promised you in the Gospel, and which you live in hope to possess for ever; and therefore it should be an exceeding love that you should have to it, and an exceeding care that you should have of it. Make light of heaven, and make light of all. Truly it is an unsuitable, unreasonable thing, to have one low thought, or one careless word, or one cold prayer or other performance, about such a matter as eternal glory. Shall such a thing as heaven be coldly or carelessly minded and sought after? Shall the endless fruition of God in glory, be looked at with sleepy, heartless wishes? I tell you sirs, if you will bave such high
hopes, you must have high and strong endeavours. A slow pace becomes not him that travelleth to such a home as this. If you are resolved for heaven, behave yourselves accordingly. A gracious, reverent, godly frame of spirit, producing an acceptable service of God, is fit for them that look to receive the kingdom that cannot be moved; Heb. xii. 28. The believing thoughts of the end of all our labours, must needs convince us that we should be "steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;" 1 Cor. xv. 58. O hearken thou sleepy, slothful Christian! Doth not God call, and conscience call, Awake, and up and be doing, man, for it is for heaven!' Hearken thou negligent, lazy Christians; do not God and conscience call out to thee, 'O man, make haste and mend thy pace, it is for heaven!' Hearken thou cowardly faint-hearted Christian; do not God and conscience call out to thee, ' Arm man, and see thou stand thy ground; do not give back, nor look behind thee, but fall on, and fight in the strength of Christ; for it is for the crown of endless glory.' O what a heart hath that man, that will not be heartened with such calls as these. Methinks the very name of God and heaven should awaken you, and make you stir, if there be any stirring power within you. Remissness in worldly matters hath an excuse, for they are but trifles; but slackness in the matters of salvation, is made inexcusable by the greatness of those matters. O let the noble greatness of your hopes appear in the resolvedness, exactness, and diligence of your lives.
4. Consider also, that it is not only low and smaller mercies that you receive from God, but mercies innumerable, and inestimable, and exceeding great. And, therefore, it is not cold affections, and dull endeavours, that you should return to God for all these mercies. Mercy brought you into the world; and mercy hath nourished you and bred you up; and mercy hath defended and maintained you, and plentifully provided for you. Your bodies live upon it: your souls were recovered by it: it gave you your being it rescued you from misery: it saveth you from sin, and satan, and yourselves. All that you have at the present, you hold by it: all that you can hope for for the future must be from it. It is most sweet in quality. What is sweeter to miserable souls than mercy? It is exceeding great in quantity!
"The mercy of the Lord is in the heavens, and his faithfulness reacheth to the clouds. His righteousness is like the great mountains; his judgments are the great deep;" Psal. xxxvi. 5, 6. "O how great is his goodness which he hath laid up for them that fear him; which he hath for them that trust in him before the sons of men;" Psal. xxxi. 19. "His mercy is great unto the heavens, and his truth unto the clouds;" Psal. lvii. 10. And O what an insensible heart hath he that doth not understand the voice of all this wondrous mercy. Doubtless it speaketh the plainest language in the world; commanding great returns from us of love, and praise, and obedience to the bountiful bestower of them. With David we must say, Blessed be the Lord, for he hath shewed me marvellous kindness in a strong city: O love the Lord all ye his saints, for the Lord preserveth all the faithful;" Psal. xxxi. 21.23. "Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth. Unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart; and I will glorify thy name for evermore, for great is thy mercy towards me; and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell:" Psal. lxxxvi. 11-13. Unspeakable mercies must needs be felt in deep impressions, and be so savoury with the gracious soul, that methinks it should work us to the highest resolutions. Unthankfulness is a crime that heathens did detest: and it is exceedingly great unthankfulness, if we have not exceeding great love and obedience, under such exceeding great and many mercies as we possess.
5. Consider, that they are exceeding great helps and means that you possess, to further your holiness and obedience to God: and, therefore, your holiness and obedience should also be exceeding great. You have all the book of nature to instruct you. Every creature may teach you God, and calls loud upon you to persuade your hearts yet nearer to him. Every work of disposing Providence is an instructor and persuader of you. Every leaf and line of Scripture is a guide and spur to you. You have ministers able and willing to help you: you have the help of the communion of saints the help of the examples of the good: and the warnings of the judgments of God upon the wicked. The helps of sermons; the helps of sacraments; the helps of prayer, and holy meditation and conference. Mercies to encourage you; afflictions to excite you. What more would you have?
And yet will you be infants, and do no more with all your helps? But this I touched upon before.
6. It is an exceeding great necessity that is upon you. And, therefore, your resolutions should be exceeding high, and your diligence exceeding great. For all you are converted, your salvation lieth yet upon your stability and perseverance. "Christ hath reconciled you in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight; if you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you have heard ;" Col. i. 22, 23. God will not be an accepter of persons! You must stick to his terms if you will partake of his salvation. He will not make two words with you. He hath told you what he expecteth of you; and that he will have. Death will not be bribed, nor put by. Judgment is coming on. There is no shifting out of the hands of God. And under such pressing necessities as these, what Christians should we be! How stable, and abundant in faith and righteousness!
7. It is a great account that you have to make, and, therefore, a great preparation that should be made. When you shall be brought before the living God, and all your times, and thoughts, and ways, must be called over, and you see what follows, and are waiting for the final doom, then there will be no dull thoughts in your hearts, all will be then lively, and quite above this careless frame. Then even the wicked will have strong desires, ' O that we had taken another course! that we had but prevented this dreadful doom, whatever it had cost us!' And should not believers now be awakened to great and careful preparations, for such a day as this?
8. For trifles here are great endeavours used. To climb up into honour and riches in the world; to satisfy the flesh; to lay up a treasure on earth, and labour for the meat that perisheth. O what endeavours then should be used, for the heavenly, everlasting treasure!
9. Consider also, how forward and diligent should those men be, that are sure they can never go too high, nor be too diligent, when they have done their best. Nay, that are certain, that the best do come so abundantly short, that they must after sit down and lament that they were no better. O there is not the holiest saint on earth, but will confess with