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man hath, and not according to that he hath not;" 2 Cor. viii. 12. If you are unfeignedly willing to give, if you had it, God taketh it as done. What you would have given, is set down on your account as given indeed. The widow's two mites were praised by Christ as a bountiful gift, and a cup of cold water is not unrewarded to the willing soul. No one, therefore, is excusable that liveth unprofitably in the world. But yet, men of power, and parts, and wealth, have the greatest reckoning to make. Their ten talents must have a proportionable improvement. It is a great deal of good that they must do. "For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more;" Luke xii. 48.
Direct. XVII. Redeem your time, and highly value every minute; and spare for no labour in the work of your salvation. Dream not of an easy, idle, sluggish life, as sufficient to your high and glorious ends; and rest not in a customary and outside way of duty, without regard to the life, and the success.'
If any thing in all the world require all our power and time, it is that for which all our powers and time are given us ; and which we are sure will a thousandfold recompense us for all. O what a sottish kind of stupidity is it, for a man to trifle in the way to eternity, that hath an endless life of joy or sorrow, depending on the preparations of so short a life. How little doth he know the worth of his soul, the joys of heaven, the terrors of hell, the malicious diligence of satan, or the difficulty of salvation, that can idle, and play away whole hours of time; and pray as if he prayed not, and seem to be religious when he is not in good earnest! And bestirreth not himself so much to escape hell-fire, and to obtain everlasting joys with Christ, as he would do to escape a temporal death or misery, or to obtain some dignity or riches in the world; 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30. O, therefore, as ever you care what becometh of your souls, and as ever you will have comfort in the review of your present life, make not a jest of heaven and hell; trifle not in your race and warfare; dally not with God and conscience; play not, and dream not away your time. Know the worth of an hour's time, for the sake of your work, and of your souls, as it is commonly
known by dying men. But of this I have spoke already in my Now or Never," and "A Saint or a Brute," and in the third part of the "Saint's Rest."
Direct. XVIII. 'Sit down and count what it may cost you to be Christians indeed, and to be saved. Reckon not on prosperity, or a cheap religion, but resolve to take up the cross, and follow Christ in suffering, and to be crucified to the world, and by many tribulations, to enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Luke xiv. 26-28.30.33. Gal. vi. 14. Acts xiv. 22. 1 Thess. iii. 4. 2 Thess. i. 6-8. 10-12. 2 Tim. iii. 12.
All that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution. It is not all that are baptized and called Christians, but all that will live godly in Christ Jesus. It is godliness, and not the bare name of Christianity, which the serpent's seed have so great an enmity to. I have elsewhere cited an excellent saying of Dr. Thomas Jackson's, to prove that this is to be expected under Christian, as well as heathen, governments, and that it is not through the goodness of the great ones of the world, but the cowardliness of our hearts, that the ministers of Christ are not ordinarily martyrs. Though God may possibly exempt you from any notable suffering for his cause, yet it is not wise or safe to expect such an exemption; for that will hinder your preparation for suffering. And a mind prepared to suffer, is essential to true Christianity. And no man that is not a martyr in resolution and disposition can be saved. If the fiery trial come upon you, let it not seem a strange, unexpected thing; 1 Pet.iv. 12-14. 17. When persecution ariseth because of the word, the unrooted, unsound, unsettled Christian, is presently offended, and falls away; Matt. xiii. 21. Mark iv. 17. Then they will fall to distinguishing and carnal reasoning, and prove any thing lawful which is necessary to their peace." As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ;" Gal. vi. 12. Shrink not for sufferings. "Fear not them that can but kill the body;" Luke xii.4. Never doth the Spirit of God and glory so much rest upon believers, as in their greatest" sufferings for righteousness sake," (1 Pet. iv. 14.) and never have they cause of more "exceeding joy;" Matt. v. 11, 12. Prosperity doth not so well agree with a life of
faith, as sufferings and adversity. "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the (temporal) things which are seen, but at the things (eternal) which are not seen;" 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. Read Rom. viii. 33, to the end.
Direct. XIX. If you fall into any sin, rise speedily by a thorough repentance; and take heed both of delay, and of a palliative cure;' Luke xiii. 3, 5. xxii. 32.
Take heed of trusting to a general repentance, or a converted state, instead of a particular repentance and conversion from any known sin, especially which is more than the ordinary unavoidable infirmities of a saint. For it is not general repentance indeed, which reacheth not to every known particular. If temptation have cast you down, take heed of lying there, but presently get up again. What the apostle saith of wrath (Eph. iv. 26.), the same I may say of other falls," Let not the sun go down upon them." But go out with Peter, and weep with him, if you have sinned with him. If your bones be out of joint, or broken, get them set presently, before they settle in their dislocation; and let the cure be thorough, and spare not for a little pain at first. Let as open confession as the case requireth, and as full restitution, signify the sincerity of your repentance. For a gentle handling of yourselves may undo you; and palliation is the hypocrite's cure. O take heed lest you presume to sleep one night in your unrepented sins; and take heed, lest delay encourage your tempter to offer you the bait again and again, and to say, 'Why not once more? Why may you not be as well pardoned for twice as for once; and for thrice as for twice?' &c. It is dangerous playing or sleeping at the brink of hell. Away from the temptation and occasion of your sin; stand not disputing, but resolve and begone; and sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you;" John v. 14. Stick not, man, at the shame, or loss, or suffering, which confession, restitution, or reformation may bring; but remember that you can never escape damnation at too dear a rate. This is Christ's meaning, when he speaketh of cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye, if it offend; that is, ensnare and tempt you unto sin; Matt. v. 29, 30. Not that you should do so indeed, for you have an easier way to avoid your sin; but that this is far the
lesser of the two evils, to lose a hand or eye, than to lose the soul, and, therefore, to be chosen if there were no other remedy. If the thief had no other way to forbear stealing, than to cut off his hand; or the fornicator to cure his lust, than to put out his eyes, it were a cheap remedy. A cheap and easy superficial repentance, may skin over the sore and deceive a hypocrite; but he that would be sure of pardon, and free from fear, must go to the bottom.
Direct. XX. Live as with death continually in your eye, and spend every day in serious preparation for it, that when it cometh, you may find your work dispatched; and may not then cry out in vain to God to try you once again.'
Promise not yourselves long life: think not of death as at many years' distance, but as hard at hand. Think what will then be needful to your peace and comfort, and order all your life accordingly, and prepare that now, which will be needful then. Live now while you have time, as you will resolve and promise God to live, when on your deathbed you are praying for a little time of trial more. It is a great work to die in joyful assurance and hope of everlasting life, and with a longing desire to depart and be with Christ as best of all; Phil. i. 21. 23. O then what a burden and terror it will be, to have an unbelieving, or a worldly heart, or a guilty conscience. Now therefore use all possible diligence to strengthen faith, to increase love, to be acquitted from guilt, to be above the world, to have the mind set free from the captivity of the flesh, to walk with God, and to obtain the deepest, most delectable apprehensions of his love in Christ, and of the heavenly blessedness which you expect. Do you feel any doubts of the state of immortality, or staggering at the promise of God through unbelief? Presently do all you can to conquer them, and get a clear resolution to your souls, and leave it not all to do at the time of sickness. Are the thoughts of God and heaven unpleasant or terrible to you? Presently search out the cause of all, and labour in the cure of it as for your lives. Is there any former or present sin, which is a burden or terror to your consciences? Presently seek out to Christ for a cure by faith and true repentance; and do that to disburden your consciences now, which you would do on a sick bed; and leave not so great and necessary a work, to so uncertain, and short, and unfit a time. Is there any thing in this world that is sweeter to
your thoughts than God and heaven; and which you cannot willingly let go? Mortify it without delay, considering of its vanity; compare it with heaven; crucify it by the cross of Christ; cease not till you account it loss and dung, for the excellent knowledge of Christ and life eternal; Phil. iii. 7-9. Let not death surprise you as a thing that you never seriously expected. Can you do no more in preparation for it, than you do? If not, why do you wish at death to be tried once again? And why are you troubled that you lived no better? But if you can, when think you should it be done? Is the time of uncertain, painful sickness better than this? O how doth sensuality besot the world! and inconsiderateness deprive them of the benefit of their reason! O sirs, if you know indeed that you must shortly die, live then as dying men should live: choose your condition in the world, and manage it as men should do that must shortly die. Use your power, and command, and honour, and use all your neighbours, and especially use the cause and servants of Christ, as men should do that must shortly die. Build and plant, and buy and sell, and use your riches, as those that must die, remembering that the fashion of all these things is passing away; 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30. Yea, pray and read, and hear and meditate, as those that must die. Seeing you are as sure of it as if it were this hour; in the name of God delay not your preparations. It is a terrible thing for an immortal soul to pass out of the body in a carnal, unregenerate, unprepared state, and to leave a world which they loved and were familiar with, and go to a world which they neither know nor love, and where they have neither heart nor treasure; Matt. vi. 19-21. The measure of faith which may help you to bear an easy cross, is not sufficient to fortify and encourage your souls, to enter upon so great a change. So also bear all your wants and crosses as men that must shortly die: fear the cruelties of men, but as beseemeth those that are ready to die. He that can die well, can do any thing, or suffer any thing: and he that is unready to die, is unfit for a fruitful and comfortable life. What can rationally rejoice that man, who is sure to die, and is unready to die, and is yet unfurnished of dying comforts? Let nothing be now sweet to you, which will be bitter to your dying thoughts. Let nothing be much desired now, which will be unprofitable and uncomfortable then. Let