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Now from this discourse, (that I may briefly apply it,) we cannot but see too much reason sadly to reflect on the state and condition of the generality of professed Christians. If none shall be partakers of the future heavenly glory, but such as have this worthiness of meetness, fitness, and due disposition for it, how few are there among those that have been baptized into the faith of Christ, and profess their hopes of heaven, who can produce any colourable claim and title to it!
There are two sorts of persons, I am sure, that are here deeply concerned.
1. If this be true, what will become of the notoriously vicious, the gross and scandalous sinner, the drunkard, the adulterer, the fornicator, the common swearer, the malicious and revengeful person, the liar, the extortioner, the oppressor, and such like? Can any of these men (even in the most merciful estimation) be thought worthy of, i. e. meet and fit for the heavenly glory? was the kingdom of heaven, think you, ever prepared or designed for such as these? Certainly no. I need not insist long on this, the case is so plain; and therefore St. Paul seems to wonder at the sottish and stupid ignorance of those who can imagine a vicious life to be reconcileable with the hopes of heaven; 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. The good Lord of his mercy open the eyes of these
men, that they may see their wretched condition before it be too late, and seasonably take the advice of St. James, chap. iv. 8, 9, 10. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
2. This discourse discovers the vain hope of the careless, negligent, idle, and unprofitable Christian, that rests in a negative religion; who hath no other ground for his hope of heaven, but that he is no scandalous sinner; whilst in the mean time he hath no lively sense of religion, and lives in the ordinary neglect of the manifest duties of Christianity, both those of piety towards God, and of charity towards his neighbour; who by his carelessness in those matters declares that religion is none of his main design or business. How much a stranger is this man to frequent, fervent, and serious prayer in private! to the diligent and daily study of the holy Scriptures! to daily meditation of heaven and heavenly things! In a word, view him in the whole course of his life, and you will think he scarce in good earnest believed a life to come, or had any serious thoughts of his eternal state in the other world. Now surely the worthiness we have been discoursing of implies another kind of religion than this.
The sum is, no man shall be accounted worthy of the future heavenly glory, but he that steadfastly believing it, doth before all things desire it, and thinks no labour too much to obtain it. He whose greatest care it is, how he may save his precious and
immortal soul, and accordingly makes religion his main business. He who watches and prays daily, and, in a word, who lives a life fruitful of good works, works of piety towards God, and (according to his ability) of charity towards men. This man, and he only, though indeed unworthy in himself, yet through the rich mercy of God, and the merits of Christ, shall be accounted worthy of the blessed immortality, to live with the holy angels, yea with God himself, in the beatific vision and fruition of him for ever and
To which blessed state God of his infinite mercy bring us all, through his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, adoration and worship, now and for ever. Amen.
THAT THE POVERTY OF THE FIRST PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL WAS DESIGNED BY PROVIDENCE TO CONVINCE THE WORLD OF THEIR SINCERITY: AND THAT EVEN PERSONS DIVINELY INSPIRED, AND MINISTERS OF GOD, DID NOT SO WHOLLY DEPEND UPON DIVINE INSPIRATION, BUT THAT THEY MADE USE ALSO OF THE ORDINARY HELP AND MEANS, SUCH AS READING OF BOOKS, WITH STUDY AND MEDITATION ON THEM, FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR OFFICE.
2 TIM. iv. 13.
The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
THE sacred writings of the Old and New Testament, being penned by holy persons either entirely and immediately inspired, or directed and assisted by the divine Spirit in what they meditated and wrote, have nothing in them that is frivolous or useless, nothing but what may yield us profitable matter of instruction, if rightly understood.
The seemingly very little things in them are many times, upon farther search and consideration, found
[This Sermon was probably written some years before the last: he speaks of the church's prosperity after a few interruptions, and alludes to the Quakers, who were numerous in his parish of Suddington: this might seem to fix the date between the restoration and 1685, when he left Suddington.]
Human Means useful to inspired Persons. 241
to be of no little use. Such is the text I have now read a place of Scripture which I have made choice of, not so much to shew my skill in improving a seemingly barren text, as because it is the most apposite, and the fittest I could find, whereon to found a discourse, which I think may be of very good use to many in the age wherein we live. To make way whereunto, I must borrow some of your time and patience for the opening and explaining of the text itself.
St. Paul wrote this Epistle from Rome to Timothy in the Lesser Asia, where St. Paul had formerly been, and had in that time thrice at least visited Troas, the chief city of a country of that name, the same with the old city of Troy, so famous for the ten years siege of the Grecians against it., At his last being at that city he had left some things behind him there, which he now desires Timothy, when he came to Rome, to bring with him, as things that he stood in need of, and might be useful to him and what were they?
First, The cloke that I left at Troas; in the Greek it is Tov peλóvny, a word borrowed from the Latins, as appears from the other writing of it often used, tov pevóλny, penulam, which signifies a cloke, or upper garment, such as travellers use to defend themselves with from the cold or bad weather.
And the books. The sacred books of the Old Testament, say some very confidently; but I must crave leave to dissent from them. For though I question not but that St. Paul was very conversant in those sacred books, and esteemed them above all human writings, yet it is very improbable that these were the books here meant. For the Scriptures of