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how roundly and cheerfully would you go through your work! How easy, and sweet, and profitable would it prove to you, if once you were strong, confirmed Christians! Alas! the souls of those that are not confirmed, lie open to every temptation of the malicious enemy of their peace; and how small a matter will disquiet and unsettle them! Every passage of Scripture which they understand not, and which seems to make against them, will disturb them. A minister cannot preach so plainly or so cautiously, but somewhat which they understand not will be matter of their disquiet. Providences will trouble them, because they understand them not. Afflictions will be bitter to the mind as well as the body, and will immoderately perplex them, because they understand them not, or have not strength to bear them and improve them. The sweeter mercies of prosperity will much lose their sweetness, for want of holy wisdom and strength to digest them. And what man would choose such a weak and languishing state as this, before a confirmed, healthful state? Will you run up and down for physic when you are sick? And will you no more regard the health and stability, and spiritual peace and vigour of your souls?


6. Moreover, it is the strong confirmed Christian that hath the true use and benefit of all God's ordinances. Meat is digested by the healthful stomach, and it is seen upon them; and we use to say, it is not lost; it is sweet to them, and doth them good, and they are strengthened more by it; and so is the confirmed Christian by God's ordinanBut to the weak, unconfirmed soul, how much of the means of grace is even as lost! How little sweetness do they find in means, and how little good can they say they get by them! I deny not but some good they get, and that they must use them still; for though the sick have little relish of his meat, yet he cannot live long without it; and though it breed not strength or health, yet it maintaineth that languishing life; but this is all, or almost all. What a sad thing is this to yourselves and unto us, when ministers that are as the nurses of the church, or stewards of the household, to give them all their meat in due season, must see that all that ever they can do for you, will do no more than keep you alive! Yea, how often are you quarrelling with your food, and you do not like it or you cannot get it down, something still ails it for matter or manner; or else if

the minister displease you, your feeble stomachs do loath the food, because you like not the cook that dresseth it, or because his hands are not so clean as you desire. "The full soul loathed an honeycomb, but to the hungry every bitter thing is sweet;" Prov. xxvii. 7. Or if you get it down, you can hardly keep it, but are ready to cast it up to our faces. And thus a great deal of our labour is lost with you, holy doctrine lost, and sacraments and other ordinances lost, because you have not strength to digest them. Labour therefore to be stablished and built up.

7. I beseech you, look upon the face of the world, and see whether it have not need of the strongest help. Whereas the weak and sick are burdensome to others, rather than fit to help the distressed. It is a multitude among us, and abroad in the world, that are ignorant and ungodly, and in the depth of misery; and if there be but a few to help them, those few should not be babes. Abundance of this multitude are obstinate in their sin, blind and wilful, captivated by the devil, and have sold themselves to do evil: and shall such miserable souls as these, have none but children or sick folks to help them? I tell you, sirs, their diseases prove too hard for the most skilful physicians; it will put the wisest man in England to it, to persuade one obstinate enemy of godliness to the hearty love of a holy life; or to cure one old superstitious person of his self-conceitedness; or one covetous person of his love of the world; or one old drunkard or glutton of his sensuality. How then will silly, ignorant Christians be able to persuade them? I know it is not the ability of the instrument, but the will of God that is the principal cause; but yet God useth to work by instruments according to their fitness for the work. What a case is that hospital in where all are sick, and no healthful persons among them to help them! Poor weak Christians! you are not able much to help one another; how much less to help the dead ungodly world! Woe to the world if it had no better helpers! And woe to yourselves if you had not the help of stronger than yourselves (seeing it is God's way to work by means). Alas, a child or sick person is so unfit to labour for the family, and to work for others, that they are the burdens of the family, and must be provided for by others; they are so unmeet to help others in their weakness, that they must be carried, or attended and waited on


What a life is this to be the burdens of the church, when you might be the pillars of the church; to be so blind and lame, when you might be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.

I speak not this to extenuate God's mercies to you; nor to undervalue the great felicity of the saints, even the poorest and weakest of them. I know that Christ is tender of the weakest that are sincere, and will not forsake them. But though you are so far above the dead world, even in the bed of your groaning and languishing, yet, O how far are you below the confirmed, healthful Christian? You are happy in being alive, but you are unhappy in being so diseased and weak. You are happy in being of the family, and fellow-citizens with the saints; but you are unhappy in being so useless, and unprofitable, and burdensome; for indeed you live but as the poor of the parish, not only on the alms of Christ, for so we do all, but on the alms of your brethren's assistance and support; and I know that in worldly matters that you will rather labour with your hands, that you may have to give to them that need, than be troublesome to others, and live upon charity; Eph. iv. 28. I know that the time is not yet come, that there shall not be a beggar in Israel; I mean one that needs not our continual relief: "the poor we shall have always with us;" even the poor in grace to exercise our charity; and I know that the strong must bear with their infirmities, and exercise compassion on them. But yet you should remember the words of Christ, "It is more honourable to give than to receive;" and therefore be persuaded to bestir yourselves for spiritual health, and strength, and riches, that the multitudes of needy, miserable souls may have some help from you; and that when they come to your doors, you may not turn them away with so cold an answer, 'Alas, we have nothing for ourselves.' Were you but strong confirmed Christians, what blessings might you be to all about you; what a stay to the places where you live! "Your lips would feed many as a tree of life. The ear that heard you would bless you, and the eye that saw you would bear you witness;" Job xxix. 11. You would be to poor souls, as bountiful rich men are to their bodies, the support and relief of many that are needy. You would "not eat your morsels alone, nor would you see any perish for lack of clothing, but the loins of the poor would

bless you;" Job xxxi. 17-20. O pity the poor world, that needeth more than children's help, and grow up into confirmation. O pity the poor church that abounds with weaklings, that is pestered with childish self-conceited quarrellers, and needeth more than children's help; and grow up to a confirmation. O pity yourselves, and live not still in so childish, sickly, and beggarly a condition, when the way of riches and health is before you; but up and be doing till you have attained confirmation.


8. Yea, this is not all; you do not only deny the church your assistance, but most of the troubles and divisions of of the church, are from such unsettled weaklings as you. In all ages almost these have made the church more work than the heathen persecutors did with fire and sword. These novices, as Paul calleth them, that is, young beginners in religion, are they that most commonly are puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil;" 1 Tim. iii. 6. These are they that are easiest deceived by seducers, as being not able to make good the truth, nor to confute the plausible reasonings of the adversaries; and withal, they have not that rooted love to the truth and ways of God, which should hold them fast; and they quickly yield like cowardly soldiers, that are able to make but small resistance. And as Paul speaks, they are "like children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Eph. iv. 14. If you will still continue children, what better can we expect of you, but thus to be tossed and carried about. Thus you gratify satan and seducers, when you little think on it: and thus you harden the ungodly in their way; and thus you grieve the hearts of the godly, and especially of the faithful guides of the flocks. Alas! that so many of the children of the church should become the scourges and troublers of the church; and should set their teeth so deep in the breasts that were drawn out for their nourishment! If you were never drawn to do any thing to the reproach of the church, yet what a grief must it be to us, to see so many of yourselves miscarry! Ah!' thinks a poor minister, what hopes had I once of these professors; and are they come to this?' O mark sirs, the apostle's warning, Heb. xiii. 9. Be not carried about with divers and strange


doctrines." And his way of prevention is, that the heart be established with grace.

9. Consider also, that it is a dishonour to Christ, that so many of his family should be such weaklings; so mutable, and unsettled, and unprofitable as you are! I do not mean that it is any real dishonour to him; for if all the world should forsake him, they would dishonour themselves, and not him, with any competent judge: as it would dishonour the beholders more than the sun, if all the world should say that it is darkness. But you are guilty of dishonouring him in the eyes of the misguided world. O what a reproach it is to godliness, that so many professors should be so ignorant and imprudent; and so many so giddy and inconstant; and so many that manifest so little of the glory of their holy profession! All the enemies of Christ without the church, are not capable of dishonouring him so much as you, that bear his name, and wear his livery! While your graces are weak, your corruptions will be strong; and all those corruptions will be the dishonour of your profession. Will it not break your hearts to hear the ungodly pointing at you as you pass by, to say,' Yonder goes a covetous professor;' or,' Yonder goes a proud, or a tippling, or a contentious professor?' If you have any love to God, and sense of his dishonour, methinks such sayings should touch you at the heart! While you are weak and unconfirmed, you will, like children, stumble at every stone, and catch many a fall; and yield to temptations, which the stronger easily resist: and then, being scandalous, all your faults by foolish men will be charged on your religion. If you do but speak an ill word of another, or rail, or deceive, or overreach in bargaining, or fall into any scandalous opinions or practice, your religion must bear all the blame with the world. Ever since I can remember, it hath been one of the principal hindrances of men's conversion, and strengtheners of the wicked in their way, that the godly were accounted a sort of peevish, unpeaceable, covetous, proud, self-seeking persons; which was a slander as to many, but too much occasioned by the scandalousness of some. And methinks you should be afraid of that woe from Christ, "Woe be to him by whom offence cometh." If you be children, you may have the woe of sharp castigations; and if you be hypocrites, you shall have the woe of everlasting sufferings. The world can judge no

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