Page images

believe that you love the light, when you shut the windows, and draw the curtains? If you will set yourselves to consider of the truth, the windows of your soul will be set open, and then the light will certainly come in. Now you read over whole chapters, and hear sermon after sermon, and either they never stir you, or at least it is but a little for a fit, like a man that hath a little warmed him at the fire in the winter, and when he goes from it, is colder than before: but if you would but set yourselves to consider of what you hear and read, one line of a chapter, or one sentence of a sermon would lay you in tears, or make you groan, or at least do more than now is done. Satan hath garrisoned the heart of every carnal man: and Consideration is the principal means to cast him out. If by considering of the terrible threatenings of the word, you would discharge these cannons of God against them, what a battery would it make in the corruptions of your souls! Our God is a consuming fire, and the fire of hell is threatened in his law, as the wages of sin by serious Consideration you may as it were, fetch fire from God and from his word, and set fire to the very gates of satan's garrison, and fire him out of many of his holds.

But because this is so needful a point, I shall be so large upon it, as, 1. To tell you some of those things that you should consider of. 11. To tell you in what manner you should do it. And, III. To give you some motives to put you on.

1. The first thing that I would have you oft to think on, is, The nature of that God with whom ye have to do. Consider, that if he be the most wise, it is all the reason in the world that he should rule you. If he be good, and infinitely good, there is all the reason in the world that you should love him; and there is no shew of reason that you should love the world or sin before him. If he be faithful and true, his threatenings must be feared, and his promises must not be distrusted; and there is no reason that you should make any question of his word. If he be holy, then holiness must needs be most excellent, and those that are the holiest must needs be the best, because they are like to God; and then he must be an enemy to sin, and to all that are unholy, because they are contrary to his nature. Consider that he is almighty, and there is no resisting him, or standing out against him; in the twink of an eye can he snatch thy guilty soul from thy body, and cast it where sin is better known.

A word of his mouth can set all the world against thee, and set thine own conscience against thee too; a frown of his face can turn thee into hell; and if he be thine enemy, it is no matter who is thy friend; for all the world cannot save thee, if he do but condemn thee. They are blessed whom he blesseth, and they are cursed indeed whom he curseth. He was from eternity, and thou art but as it were of yesterday thy being is from him; thy life is always in his hands, thou canst not live an hour without him, thou canst not fetch a breath without him, nor think a thought, nor speak a word, nor stir a foot or hand without him; thou mayst better live without bread, or drink, or fire, or air, or earth, or water, than without him. All the world is before him, but as the drop of a bucket, or a little sand or dust that should be laid in balance with all the earth. Hadst thou but compassed about this lower world, and seen all the nations of it, and its wonderful furniture, and seen the great deeps of the mighty ocean, and the abundance of creatures in them all: O what thoughts then wouldst thou have of God! But if thou hadst been above the stars, and seen the sun in all its glory, and seen the frame and course of those higher orbs, and seen the blessed, glorious angels, and all the inhabitants of the higher world, O then what thoughts of God wouldst thou entertain! O but if it were possible that thou hadst seen his glory, or seen but his back parts as Moses did, or seen him in Christ the now glorified Redeemer, what apprehensions wouldst thou have of him then! Then how wouldst thou abhor the name of sin, and how weary wouldst thou be of the pleasantest life that sensuality could afford thee! Then thou wouldst quickly know that no love can be great enough, and no praises can be high enough, and no service can be holy and good enough for such a God: then you would soon know, that this is not a God to be neglected, or dallied with; nor a God to be resisted, nor provoked by the wilful breaking of his laws. It is eternal life to know this God (John xvii. 3.), and for want of knowing him it is, that sin aboundeth in the world. This maketh holiness so scarce and lean men worship they care not how, because they worship they know not whom. O therefore dwell on the meditations of the Almighty. So far as he doth possess thy mind, there will be no place for sin and vanity. One would think if I should set you no further task, and tell you of no

[blocks in formation]

other matters for meditation, this one should be enough;

for this one is in a manner all.

What will not the due knowledge of God do upon the soul? That is the best Christian, and the most happy man that knoweth most of him; and that is the most vile and miserable wretch that is furthest from him, and strangest to him; it is the character of the fool of fools, to have an heart whose disposition and practice saith, "There is no God;" Psalm xiv. 1. that is, to be so affected and employed in their hearts, as if there were no God, and when God is not in all his thoughts; Psalm x. 4. It was better with man when he had less knowledge for himself, and fewer thoughts for himself, and more of God. And there is no way to restore us to sound understanding, and to perfect our knowledge, but to turn our eye upon God again; for in knowing him, we know all that is worth the knowing. Take hold then of the blessed God in thy meditations, and fill thy thoughts with him, and dwell upon those thoughts. Remember he is always with thee, and wherever thou art, or whatever thou art doing, most certainly he seeth thee. As sure as thou art there, the Lord is there. He knows thy thoughts, he hears thy words, he sees all thy ways. And is such a God as this to be provoked or despised? Were it not better to provoke and despise all the world? Is his favour to be slighted? Were it not better to lose the favour of all the world? Consider of this!

2. Another thing that I would have you oft think of, is, What end you were made for, and what business it is that you came for into the world. You may well think that God made you not in vain; and that he made you for no lower end, than for himself; and that he would never have made you, nor so long preserved you, if he had not cared what you do. He would never have endued you with a reasonable and immortal soul, but for some high, and noble, and immortal end. Surely it was that you might be happy in knowing him, that he made you capable of knowing him; for he made nothing in vain. It is useful for a horse to know his pasture, and provender, and work, and perhaps his master; but he need not know whether there be a God; and accordingly he is qualified. But it is sure man's chief concernment to know that there is a God, and what he is, and how to serve him, and what he is and will be to us; or else we should never have been capa

ble of such things. And he would never have made you capable of loving him, but that you should be exercised and made happy in that love. The frame, and faculties, and capacity of your souls, and the scope of Scripture, do all declare, that you were sent into this world, to seek after God, and to love him, and obey him, and rejoice in him in your measure; and to prepare for a life of nearer communion, where you may enjoy him and praise him in the highest perfection. Consider with yourselves, whether a life of sin be that which you were made for; or whether God sent you hither to break his laws, and follow your own lusts. And whether the satisfying of your flesh, and the gathering a little worldly wealth, and the feathering of a nest which must so quickly leave, be like to be the business that you were sent about into the world.


3. The next thing that I would have you consider of, is, How you have answered the ends of your creation, and how you have done the business that you came into the world to do. Look back upon the drift of your hearts and lives; read over the most ancient records of your consciences, and see what you have been, and what you have been doing in the world till now. Have you spent your days in seeking after God, and your estates and strength in faithful serving him? Have you lived all this time in the admiration of his excellencies, and the fervent love of him, and delightful remembrance of him, and the zealous worship of him? If you have done this, you had not need of a conversion. But consider, have you not forgotten what business you had in the world, and little minded the world that you should have prepared for, and lived as if you knew not him that made you, or why he made you? Was sport and merriment the end that you were created for? Was ease and idleness, or eating, or drinking, or vain discourses, or recreation, the business that you came into the world about? Was living to the flesh, and scraping up riches, or gaping after the esteem of men, the work that God sent you hither to do? Was this it that he preserved you for, and daily gave you in provision for? What, was it to forget him, and slight him, and turn him out of your hearts, and rob him of his service and honour; and to set up your flesh in his stead, and give that to it, that was due to him? Bethink you what you have done, and whether you have done the work that you were sent to do, or not.

4. The next thing you should use to consider of, is, How grievously you have sinned, and what a case it is that your sin hath brought you into. If you take but an impartial view of your lives, you may see how far you have missed your marks, and how far you have been from what you should have been; and how little you have done of that which was your business. And O what abundance of aggravations have your sins! which I shall pass over now, because I must mention them under another head. It is not only some actually out-breakings against the bent of your heart and life, but your very heart was false and gone from God, and set in you to do evil.

O the time that you have lost; the means and helps that you have neglected; the motions that you have resisted; the swarms of evil thoughts that have filled your imaginations; the streams of vain and idle words that have flowed from your mouth; the works of darkness, in publie and in secret, that God hath seen you in! And all this while, how empty were you in inward holiness, and how barren of good works, to God or man? What have you done with all your talents, and how little or nothing hath God had of all!

And now consider what a case you are in, while you remain unconverted. You have made yourselves the sinks of sin, the slaves of satan, and the flesh; and are skilful in nothing but doing evil; if you be called to prayer or holy meditation, your hearts are against it, and you are not used to it, and therefore you know not how to do it to any purpose: but to think the thoughts of lust, or covetousness, or hatred, or malice, or revenge, this you can do without any toil. To speak of the world, or of your sports and pleasures, or against those that you bear ill will to, this you can do without any study. You are such as are spoken of, Jer. iv. 22. " "My people is foolish, they have not known me: they are sottish children, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge." You are grown strangers to the God that made you, in whose love and service you should live and find your chief delights. Your hearts are hardened, and you are dead in your sins: the guilt of the sins of your lives are still upon you: you can neither look into your hearts and lives, no, not on one day of your lives, or the best hour that you have spent, but you must see the ugly face of sin, which deserveth condem

« PreviousContinue »