« AnteriorContinuar »
other hand, that I judged requisite, not meddled with, I resolved to take a different method, and to frame a book, tbe greatest part whereof fhould be perfeetly new, and the rest fo altered and changed, as that it cannot be called the same, And if what I have written may tend to God's glory, and the devout reader's benefit, ! fiall esteem my time happily employed.
THE confideration of death and eternity is a matter of that vast consequence, to all whọ know they bave immortal fouls to save, that whatever either tends to promote this, or may be serviceable in order to the better effect of it, can never be unseasonable ; especially when we call, to mind, how exceedingly uncertain the time of our stay here is, infomuch that there is no man living, who can be sure, that he has an hour more to live. It was an excellent petition of Moses, or tehosqever it was that composed the ninetiet} Plalm: So teach us to number our days, as that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom, per. 12. Nor is there any surer course to become wife to the best purposes, viz. the promoting God's glory, and. 04r own eyerlesing welfare, than by accustoming ourselves often to reflect upon, and seriously weigh. quith ourselves, the little time we have to spend here, and the immense concern we have depending upon our
good improvement of it; nor any folly in the world comparable to theirs, who can be content to idle away their time, and mifemploy themselves, when, for aught they know to the contrary, they may be snatched away the next moment ; and so, being feized without a due preparation for a better state, may be sentenced to depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
THERE is none who is not continually liable to sickness and death ; and who ought not therefore to be always furnished with patience and submisi to the Divine Will under the former, and to be every day in a readiness for the other. And, to affist the Christian reader in order to these weighty purposes; that fo be may be happy both bere and bereafter, is the design of the following tract. But then it is incumbent upon him; to apply what is faid in it to bis own foul ; inasmuch as without this it must needs prove insignificant and uselefs; the best advice that can be given in any cafe, being of no, advantage; where it is not attended to. A man may pleafe bimJelf with what he hears, or reads, and it may serve him for amusement and diverfion; but, if this be all the use he makes of it, he grossly deceives his own foul, if he think however to be advantaged hy it. Such an one is but like the man spoken of by St. James, A 3
who, (a) beholding his natural face in a glass, goeth away, and straitway forgetteth what manner of man he was. The true end of reading is improvement. And whosoever therefore would be really benefited by what he reads, must take care to digest it in bis thoughts, and then to reduce it to practices and try to get his life amended by.it.
ALMIGHTY God has (6) given us exceeding great and precious promises, and will be fure to make them good in bis due time, if we do not senselessly incapacitate ourselves for them. But then it is to be remembered, that they are all conditional, and there is no hope of attaining to them, but by partaking of the Divine Nature, and escaping the corruption which is in the world through lust. We must cleanse and purify ourselves, and serve God faithfully, with reverence and godly fear, before we can look upon ourselves to be interested in his favour, and intitled to the promised salvation. (c) The foundation, the promise and Covenant of God, ftandeth sure, having this feal, for the confirmation of it on his part, that the Lord knoweth, and will own, them that are his : And, on their part, Let every one that nameth (a) James i. 23, 24. (6) 2 Pet. i. 4. (c) 2 Tim.
the Name of Christ, and pretends to be bis dif riple and fervent, depart from all iniquity. This is the certain and the only way to please God, and to be for ever happy in the enjoyment of bim: and it is therefore every one's indispensible duty to dea; mean himself accordingly; and 110t only when death looks him in the face; and he must expect to be translated bence, but throughout his whole life; as be will undoubtedly be convinced when he comes to die, if not beforenim
· AND oh that men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! That they would be serious, and in earneji, and have those thoughts in their health and ftrength, which they ordinarily have when they come to dié! Then they are apt to reflect upon their past lives, with an unfeigned forrow and regret; for not having made better improvement of them. And, if they had ten thousand worlds at their dis posal, these should all go to redeem that time, which they had to vainly Squandered away. They will then find to their forrow and share; that to prepare themselves for Heaven is not so easy a task as they had imagined, but must be a work of time and pains, and ought indeed to have been the main busă ness of their whole lives. Which being once granted,
it is impossible to give a reason, wby they should not all immediately set about it, with the utmost diligence; that since they have here no abiding city, they therefore never cease to seek one that is to come. This is the great end of our living bere; and the only way that God has prescribed, in order to a better fate. And they who take a contrary course, may infallibly depend upon it, that death will open a frightful scene to them, that will cause them to bethink themselves wben it is too late, and to condemn themselves to all eternity, for not having done it sooner.