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would you think of such an one? Especially if it were your servant or your child that owed you much more? Thus do you by God and your own souls. You have thoughts enough and to spare, you know not what to do with them and yet rather than you will spend one hour in a day or a week in serious thoughts of the state of your souls and the life to come, you will cast them away upon news, and tales, and other folk's business that do not concern you; yea, you will cast them down the sink of covetousness, and malice, and lust, and wantonness, and make them servants to the devil and the flesh. If you have a brook running by your land, you will endeavour to turn it over your ground, that seeing it must run, it may as well run that way where it may do good, as run in vain: so when your thoughts must run, is it not better that you turn them to your own hearts, and states, to prepare for the world that you are ready to step into, than to let them run in vain? If you see a man go in to a wine-cellar (though it be his own) and pull out all the spigots, and let all the wine run about the cellar, and suffer nobody to catch it, or be the better for it, what would you conceive of the wisdom or charity of that man? Your thoughts are a thing more precious than wine, and such a thing as should not be spilt; and yet is not this your every day's practice? You are before him that knows your thoughts: deny it if you can. What hour of the day can a man come to you and find your thoughts altogether idle? What minute of an hour can a man come and ask you what are you now thinking on, and you can truly say, Nothing? I know as long as you are awake, you are always thinking of somewhat (and perhaps when you are asleep) and what is it on? This body shall have a thought, and that body a thought; every word you hear, and every wrong that is done you, and almost every thing you look upon, shall have a thought; and God and your own salvation shall have none; that is, you will lose them, and let them run in waste; but you will do no good with them, nor take in any profit by them to yourselves.
6. Have you any thing that better deserves your consideration, than God and your salvation? Certainly God hath more right to your thoughts than any thing else that you can place them on. Your flesh, your friends, your worldly business are neither so honourable, so necessary, or so pro
As there is more
fitable subjects, as God and heaven are. profit to be got by the tillage of fruitful land, than barren heath; or by digging in a mine of gold, than in a clay-pit; so is there more pleasure and profit to be gotten in one hour's serious thoughts of your salvation, than in thinking all your lifetime of the world.
7. At least, methinks you should consider, how disproportionably and unequally you lay out your thoughts. Cannot you spare God the tenth; no, nor the hundredth part of them? Look back upon your lives, and trace your thoughts from day to day, and tell me how many hours in a week, in a month, in a year, you have spent in serious thoughts of the state of your souls, and of the life to come? Is it one hour of a hundred, of a thousand, of ten thousand, with some of you that is thus spent? Nay, I have very great cause to fear that there are some, yea, that there are many, yea, that there is far the greatest number, that never spent one hour since they were born, in withdrawing themselves purposely from all other business, and soberly and in good sadness bethinking themselves what case they are in, what evidence they have of their salvation, or how they must be justified at the bar of God; no, nor what business they have in the world, and to what end they were made, and how they have done the work that they were made for. Ah! sirs, doth conscience justify you in this? Or rather will it not torment you one day to remember it? What! did thy land, and livings, worldly matters deserve all thy thoughts, and did not the saving of thy soul deserve some of them? Did thy lusts, and sports, and wantonness deserve all? and did not God deserve some of them? Was it not worth now and then an hour's time, no, nor one hour's study in all thy life, to bethink thee in good sadness how to make sure of a life of endless joy or glory, and how to escape the flames of hell? This is not an equal distribution of thy thoughts, as thou wilt confess at last in the horror of thy soul.
8. It is the end of your present time and warnings, that you may consider and prepare for your everlasting state. What have you to do on earth but to consider how to get well to heaven? O that you did but know what a mercy it is, before you enter upon an endless life, to have but time to bethink you of it, and to make your election sure! If you were to be called away suddenly, this night, and the angel of
the Lord should say to any of you, 'Prepare, for within this hour thou must die, and appear before the living God:' then would you not cry out, 'O, not so suddenly Lord! Let me have a little more time to consider of my condition: let me have one month longer, to bethink me of the case of my soul, and make sure that I am justified from the guilt of my sins. Let me have one day more at least to prepare for my everlasting state; for alas, I am yet unready.' Would not these be your cries, if God should call you presently away? And yet now you have time, you will not consider of these matters and prepare,
9. Moreover, is it not time for you to consider your ways, when God doth consider them? If he would forget them, or did not regard them, you might regard them the less yourselves but be sure of it, he doth observe them, whether you do or not; and he remembereth them though you forget them. Dost thou not know that all the sins of thy life are still on record before the Lord? Saith Job, "Thou numberest my steps; dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgresion is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up mine iniquity;" Job xiv. 16, 17. Do you think that God forgets your sins, as you forget them? Saith the Lord by the prophet Hosea, "They consider not in their hearts, that I remember all their wickedness; now their doings have beset them about, they are before my face;" Hosea vii. 2. But you will say, What if God do consider our ways? why surely then it is not for nothing, but evil is near if not prevented. As the Lord saith in Deut. xxxii. 34, 35. "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time. For the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste." If God be registering up thy sins, thou hast cause to tremble, to think what that portends: "for in this hardness and impenitency of thy heart, thou art treasuring up wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Rom. ii. 5. As grace is the seed of glory, so sin is the seed of shame, and trouble, and everlasting torment; and though it may seem long before the harvest, you will taste the bitter fruit at last; and whatsoever you have sowed, that shall you reap.
10. Moreover, if any thing ailed you, you look that God
should presently consider you: or if you want any thing, think he should consider your wants: and yet will you not consider of him, and of your own wants? When you are in trouble, you cry to God, "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, consider my trouble;" Psal. ix. 33. "Consider and hear me, O God;" Psal. xiii. 3. When you lie in pain and sickness, you will then cry to God, "Consider mine affliction, and deliver me;" Psal. cxix. 153. If you be oppressed or abused, you will groan as the Israelites under their taskmasters, and perhaps cry to God, as the captive people, Lam. i. 11. "See O Lord, consider; for I am become vile: remember, O Lord, what is come upon us; consider, and behold our reproach; chap. v. 1. ii. 20. And must God consider of you, that will not consider of him, or your own souls? Or may you not rather expect that dreadful answer, which he gives to such regardless sinners; Prov. i. 24-30. And hear your cries, as you hear his counsel; and think of you, as you thought of him.
Nay, more than so; even while you forget him, the Lord doth daily consider you, and supply your wants, and save you from dangers; and should you then cast him out of your thoughts? If he did not think of you, you would quickly feel it to your cost and sorrow.
11. Moreover, the nature of the matter is such, as one would think should force a reasonable creature to consider of it, and often and earnestly to consider. When all these things concur in the matter, he must be a block or a madman that will not consider, (1.) When they are the most excellent, or the greatest things in all the world. (2.) When they are our own matters, or nearly concern us. (3.) When they are the most necessary, and profitable, and delightful things. And (4.) When there is much difficulty in getting them, and danger of losing them. And all these go together in the matter of your salvation.
(1.) If you will not think of God and your souls, of heaven and hell, what then will you think of? All other things in the world are but toys and jesting matters to these. Crowns and kingdoms, lands and lordships are but chaff, and baubles, dirt and dung, to these everlasting things. The acts of renowned kings and conquerors, are but as puppet-plays in comparison of the working out of your salvation. And yet will you not be drawn to the consideration
of such astonishing things as these? One would think that the exceeding greatness of the matter should force you to consider it whether you will or no. When smaller objects affect not the senses, yet greater will even force their way. He that hath so hard a skin that he cannot feel a feather, methinks should feel the weight of a millstone: and if he feel not the prick of a pin, methinks he should feel a dagger. He that cannot hear one whisper, methinks should hear a cannon, or a clap of thunder, if he have any such thing as hearing left him. He hath bad eyes that cannot see the sun. One would think so glorious an object as God, should so entice the eyes of men that they should not look off him. One would think that such matters as heaven and hell should follow thy thoughts which way soever thou goest, so that thou shouldst not be able to look besides them, or to think almost of any thing else, unless with great neglect and disesteem. O what a thing is a stony heart, that can forget not only the God that he liveth by, but also the place where he must live for ever? Yea, that will not be persuaded to the sober consideration of it for an hour.
(2.) And as these are the greatest matters, so they are your own matters, and therefore one would think you should not need so much ado to bring you to consider them. If it were only other men's matters, I should not wonder at it. But self-love should make you regard your own. In outward matters, all seek their own things; Phil. ii. 21. And have they not more reason to seek their own salvation? It is your own souls, your own danger, your own sin, your own -duty, that I persuade you to consider of. It is that God, that Christ, that would be your own; it is that heaven, that blessedness, that may be your own, if you lose it not by neglect; it is that hell, that torment, that will certainly be your own, if you prevent it not. And should not this be thought on? You will think of your own goods, or lands, or riches; of your own families, your own business, your own lives, and why not also of your own salvation?
(3.) Especially, when it is not only your own, but it is the "one thing needful;" Luke x. 42. It is that which your life or death, your everlasting joy or torment lieth on; and therefore must be considered of, or you are utterly undone for ever. Necessity lieth upon you; and woe be to you, if you consider not of these things. It is not so necessary