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that you eat, or drink, or sleep, or live, as it is necessary that you make sure your everlasting life. And the profit also doth answer the necessity. Buy but this one pearl, and you will be infinite gainers, though you sell all that you have in the world to buy it; Matt. xiii. 44-46. Get God, and get all: make sure of heaven, and then fear no loss, nor want, nor sorrow. If you count not all the world as dung for the winning of Christ, that you may be found in him, possessed of his righteousness, it is because you know neither the world nor Christ; Phil. iii. 7-9. Yea, the delight will also answer the commodity; for "in the presence of God is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore; Psal. xvi. 11. And the forethoughts of them may well make glad our hearts, and cause our glory to rejoice;” Psal. xvi. 8, 9. "For goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever;" Psal. xxiii. 6. "He shall guide us with his counsel, and afterward receive us into glory;" Psal. lxxiii. 24. And lest yet you should suspect any lack of comfort, he tells you, you shall "enter into the joy of your Lord;" Matt. xxv. 23. "And that you shall be with him where he is, to behold his glory;" John xvii. 24.
(4.) And yet if all this might be had with a wet finger; if heaven were the portion of worldlings, and sluggards, that trouble not their thoughts much about it, then you might have some excuse for your inconsiderateness. But it is not so; there are difficulties in your way, and they are many and great. What a dark understanding have you to inform? What a dull and backward nature to spur on! What an unreasonable appetite! What raging passions! What violent, rebellious senses to contend with, to master, and to rule! Abundance of adversaries on every hand: a subtle devil, and as malicious as subtle; and as furious and able to do you a mischief, if God restrain him not. A world of wicked men about you; each one more stiff in error than you in the truth; and more fast to the devil than you are to God, (if his grace do not hold you faster than you will hold yourselves ;) and therefore they are more able to deceive you, than you are to undeceive them: many of them are crafty and can puzzle such ignorant beginners as you, and put a face of reverence and truth upon damnable errors, and pernicious ways; and those that have not wit, have foolish
violence, and scorn, and passion, and can drive you towards hell, if they cannot draw you. All these enemies you must conquer, or you are lost. And is it not time for a man in so much danger to consider of them, that he may know how to escape? And for one that is compassed about with such difficulties, to consider how he may well get through them? What abundance of things have you to consider of? of all your life past; of the relations you have borne; and how you have performed the duties of those relations? Of the time you have had; and how you have spent it? Of the means you have had, and what you have received by them? Of the present state of your souls, your sins, your miseries, your hopes, and the duties that are incumbent on you, in order to your recovery. Of the temptations to be encountered with; and the graces that are daily to be exercised and confirmed! Would not a man bethink himself with all possible care, and consider, a hundred times consider, that hath all this to do, or be undone for ever? You have much to know that will not easily be known, and yet must be known; much to do, receive and suffer, that hath difficulty adjoined with necessity: were it necessary and not hard, the facility might draw you to make light of it. And were it hard and not necessary the difficulty might more discourage you than the matter would excite you: but when it must be done, or you must be shut out of heaven, and lie in hell for it world without end, and yet there are so many difficulties in the way, I think it is time to look about you, and seriously consider,
12. To conclude, Consideration would prevent a world of misery, which else would make you consider when it is too late. It must be a principal means of your salvation if ever you be saved. If God have so much mercy for you, he will make you consider; and set your sins in order before you; (Psal. 1. 21.) and set hell-fire before your face, and hold your thoughts on it that you cannot look off. He will set before you a crucified Christ, and tell you, that this your sins have done, and make you think of the reason of his sufferings; and what there is in sin that could require it; and what it is to rebel against the Lord, and run yourselves into the consuming fire. Now your thoughts are gadding abroad the world, and straggling after every trifle, and going away from God; but if ever God will save you, he will overtake
your hearts, and fetch them home, and shew them that they have something else to think on. If commands will not serve, he will send out his threatenings, and terrors shall come upon you, and pursue your soul as the wind; Job xxxiii. 15. He will fetch you out of the alehouse, and the gaming-house, and take you off the merry pin, and lay that upon your heart that you shall not easily shake off. If you are taken up with the cares of the world, he will shew you that you have somewhat else to care for; and drown those cares in greater cares. If you have such giddy, unsettled, vagrant minds, that you cannot call in your thoughts of God, nor hold them with him; he will lay those clogs and bolts upon them at first, that shall restrain them from their idle vagaries; and then he will set upon them such a bias, as shall better order them, and fix them for the time to come. Men do not use to go to heaven, and never think of it: and to escape hell-fire, and the plague of sin, and the curse of the law, and the wrath of God, and the rage of satan, and never think on it; nor do they use to mind other matters, and find themselves in heaven, before they ever dreamed of it, or before their hearts were set upon it. No sirs, if ever God will save you, he will make you consider, and again consider, and perhaps with many a sigh and groan; and bring these things so near your hearts, that you shall not only think on them, but feel them; according to that command, Deut. vi. 6, 7. xi. 18-20. They shall be as written before your eyes; you shall think of them when you lie down, and when you rise up, as if they were written upon the tester of your beds; you shall think of them when you sit at home, when you go abroad, as carrying them still with you, which way soever you go. As before, God was not in all your thoughts, so now he will be the sum and end of them all.
And if by your resistance you escape these considerations, believe it, God will bring you to consideration by a severer and more dreadful way. If he do but give your conscience a commission, it will follow you, and bring you to such a consideration as Judas was brought to. If he lay you under his judgments, and speak to you by his rod, and give you a lash with every word, and ask you whether yet you will consider of it? It may bring such things to your thoughts, as you were but little troubled with before. If he say but the word, how soon will your soul be required of
you? And when And when you lie in hell and feel the smart, you will then consider of it. Now we cannot beg of you to bestow one hour in sober consideration: but then you shall do it without entreaty; then you will be as a man that hath the stone, or gout, or toothach, that cannot forget it, if he would never so fain. Forget your folly, your obstinacy, and unthankfulness then, if you can. Forget God's wrath, and the torment which you feel then if you can. Now you are so busy that you could not have while to think of the matters of the world to come; but then God will give you leisure; you shall have little else to do; you shall have time enough: when you have thought of these things ten thousand years, you shall still have time enough before you to think of them again. You will not consider now, but, when God hath performed the intents of his heart, in the latter days, you shall perfectly consider it; Jer. xxiii. 20. xxx. 24. "O that you were wise, that you understood this; that you would consider your latter end;" Deut. xxxii. 29.
What brings so many thousand souls to hell, but because they would not consider in time? If you could speak with any of those hopeless souls, and ask them,' How came you to this place of torment?' they would tell you, 'because we did not consider of our case in time; we little thought of this day, though we were told of it; we had a load of sin upon us, and did not consider how we might be relieved: we had Christ and mercy set before us, but we did not consider the worth of them nor how to be made partakers of them: we had time, but we considered not how to make the best of it: we had the work of our salvation lay upon our hands, but we did not consider how we might accomplish it: O had we but considered what now we feel, we might have escaped all this, and have lived with God!' These would be the answers of those miserable souls, if you could but · ask them the cause of their misery. There is scarce a thief or a murderer hanged at the gallows, but will cry out, 'O if I had but had the wit and grace to have considered this in time, I need not have come to this!' There is scarce an unthrift that falls into beggary, no nor a man that comes to any mischance, but will say, 'If I had considered it beforehand, I might have prevented it.' Most of the calamities of the world might have been prevented, by timely and sober considerations. God himself doth place men's wickedness
much in their inconsiderateness, and lays the cause of their destruction upon it. Whence is it that Israel was rebellious to astonishment; Isa. i. 3. "Why, Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Job xxxiv. 25-27. "He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead; therefore he knoweth their works, he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed. He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others, because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways." Why do men live so wilfully in sin, but because "they consider not that they do evil;" Eccles.v.1. How many such hath the world, that God pronounceth a woe to? Isa. v. 11, 12. That drink, and play, and give themselves to their merriments, "but they regard not the work of the Lord; neither consider the operation of his hands. They consider not in their hearts the folly of their ways;" Isa. xliv. 18-20. When they see God's judgments, they consider not the meaning of them, and therefore lay them not to heart; Isa. lvii. 1, 2.
And when God calleth men to conversion, or reformation, he useth to call them to consideration as the way to it; Hag. i. 5. "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your ways." The son that shall escape the misery of his father, is he that considereth, and turneth away from his transgressions, considereth, and doth not his forefather's work; Ezek. xviii. 14. 20. And when he sendeth the prophet to them, (Ezek. xii. 3.) it is but with this encouragement; "Though they are a rebellious house, it may be they will consider." And David professeth, that Consideration was the beginning of his conversion; Psal. cxix. 59. "I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste and delayed not to keep thy statutes."
I know that it is the Lord, that must renew and revive a sinful soul; but yet, under God, Consideration must do much. O could we but persuade our people to consider, it is not sure possible that they could be as they are, or do as they do. Would so many thousands live in ease and quietness under the guilt of so many sins, and the wrath of God, if they did but well consider of it. Durst they live so peaceably in a state of death and in the slavery of the devil, if they did but well consider of it? Would they do no more to prepare for their speedy appearing before God, and for the es