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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 lívely, 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 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
lamentation, how little his love to God is in comparison of what it should be; how short all falls below our duty, below the glorious majesty of God; below the precious love of Christ; below the worth of precious souls; below the weight of endless glory; below the mercies that should warm our hearts; below the great necessity that is on us; and consequently below their own desires. Look, therefore, after greater things, while you may attain them.
10. Lastly, consider what abundance of great engagements are on you, that are sincere believers, more than upon others.
(1.) You are more nearly related to Christ than any others And, therefore, you should be more tender of offending him, and more eminent in love and service to him. You are his household-servants; and will you not labour for him and stick to him? You are his friends; and should a friend abuse him? should not a friend be faithful? You are his dear, adopted children, and his spouse; and should not you be faithful to him to the death? Should not all the love and service that you have be his? Gal. v. 4.
Isa. i. 2, 3.
Mal. i. 10.
(2.) You have bound yourselves to him by more serious frequent vows and covenants than other men have done. How many persons, and places, and necessities of yours, can witness against you, if you be not firm and forward for the Lord. As Joshua said to Israel," Behold this stone, it shall be a witness unto you, lest you deny your God;" Josh. xxiv. 27. So I may say, the places where you have kneeled, and prayed, and promised, will be witnesses against you, if you be not firm to God. The churches that you have assembled in, the places you have walked in, in your solitary meditations; the persons that have heard your promises and professions; the world about you that hath seen your forwardness, will all witness against you if you be not firm.
(3.) It is you that have the life and kernel of mercies; others have but the crumbs that fall from your tables. Others have common mercies, but you have the great and special mercies that accompany salvation. "All things are yours," and should not you be Christ's? 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. Of you it is that God is so exceeding tender, that he chargeth your enemies not to touch you, and tells them that touch you, that they "touch the apple of his eye;" Zech.
ii. 8. And should not you abound in love and holiness? and should you not be as tender of his favour, and his law, and honour, as of the apple of your eye? Should not he that toucheth the name, and law, and honour of God, by profaning them by sin, be as one that toucheth the apple of your eye?
(4.) You have a Spirit, and heavenly life within you, which the rest of the world are unacquainted with. And can you think it is not something extraordinary, that God must needs expect from you? Will you not “walk in the Spirit," which is given you, and mortify the flesh by it? Gal. v. 16, 17. 24. Is there not more expected from the living than the dead? Surely he that hath made you new creatures, and made you partakers of the Divine Nature, doth expect somewhat divine in your affections and devotions, and that you be somewhat more than men.
(5.) Moreover, it is you above others, for whom the word and messengers of God are sent! We must speak to all: but it is you that God's special eye is upon; it is your salvation that he intends to accomplish by us. There were
many widows in days of Elisha;
the days of Elias,
and many lepers in the But it was but to one of them that the prophet was sent! We make the ungodly multitude even rage against us, and ministers are hated for magnifying the grace of God to you, and declaring his special love to you above others. When Christ himself had spoken to you the forecited the words, it is said in the next verses, 28, 29. that "all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." This was the entertainment of Christ himself, when he did but declare how few it is that God will save, and for whose sakes he specially sends his messengers. And must we incur all this for magnifying you, and will you dishonour yourselves? Is all our study and labour for you, and our lives for you, and all things for you, and will not you be wholly, and to the utmost of your strength for God? Are you called out of all the world for salvation, and will you not answer this admirable, differencing grace, by an admirable difference from those that must