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Natures are ready to close with every SERM. Temptation the Devil throws in our Way, XI. and persuade us to take up with those gilded Balls which are scattered on Purpose to divert us from our Race towards Heaven. But,
3. Our Enemies are very watchful to destroy us, and therefore we should be as watchful for our own Preservation. The Devil, like a roaring Lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour; he is continually forging his Projects, framing his private and subtle Designs; he takes no Rest, but is unwearied in his Attempts, and watches for our Ruin : He attacks us in every Place, and will not suffer us to be, one Hour of our Lives, free from his Temptations ; he winds himself into the most private Recesses of our Souls: and, when we retire into the Closet of our Breasts, pursues us thither, mingles vain Thoughts with our most fervent Addresses to God, and tụrns our very Prayers to
How busy is he to distract our Minds, whilst we are performing religious Duties; to inject wicked Thoughts into our Hearts, and to divert our Minds from the Business we are about, and, by filling them with worldly Cares, and engaging them
SERM. in the Pursuit of some sensual Delight,
XI. to take them off from God? What is w the Reason, it is so difficult a Matter to
fix our Minds on any Thing that is good; that the Church is so often turned into a Shop or Exchange, and the public Worship becomes such a tiresome Employment, such a Weariness to us? Whence comes it, that we, who can pass so many Hours away with Pleasure, in any sensual Delight, should be so soon tired with doing that which is our most valuable Privilege, the Service of our Maker ? Certainly, this must needs, in a great Measure, proceed from those Tares which the evil One fows in the Minds of Men, those Suggestions which the Devil casts into our Minds. And shall not we be as watchful to save our Souls, as he is to ruin and destroy them? It is the Observation of the Poet, Ut jugulent homines, that a Thief will watch and fit
all Night, and endure any Sort of Hardship to rob you : And will not you be as vigilant, and take the same Pains to preserve yourself?
4. CONSIDER of what great Importance it is to be watchful, and of how great Consequence it will be to you. If it was concerning a Business of small
Moment, Moment, it were not worth the while to SERM. use so much Care and Vigilancy about it; XI. but since our eternal Welfare is concerned, no Diligence and Industry can be too great to serve it.
What Pains do Men take to obtain a fading and perishing Crown, which can be kept but for a few Years, and is always attended with Troubles and Sollicitudes ? Nay, what Dangers will not Men run through, what Fatigues will they not endure, to obtain a Wreath of Laurel, or a Crown of Oak; and shall the Christian be the only Person, who has neither Sense of Honour, nor Desire of Glory? Shall that immortal and never fading Crown, which God has promised to those who love and obey him, be so despicable in his Eye, that he shall not think it worth his Labour to gain it? Whence can this Sottishness and Stupidity proceed? Have we not Reason to cry out: O that Men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider those Things which make for their eternal Weifare! But, if no Rewards will allure and entice us, let the Sense of our Danger fright us into Happiness. Let us consider, that we have Souls which will be either for ever happy or eternally miserable ; and, if we would pre
SERM. vent their irreversible Doom, it must be by XI. the diligent Performance of these two Du
ties of Sobriety and Watchfulness.
And to this End it will be necessary to consider,
III. WHAT are the chief Letts and Hinderances which keep us from the conscientious Performance of these Duties of Sobriety and Watchfulness, in order to remove them.
1. And these are, first, Infidelity; we live in an atheistical and sceptical Age, when Men call in question the fundamental Articles of their Faith, and doubt of every Thing which is not the Object of their Senses; and though it is made a Question, whether there are any down right Atheists, Men that are confirmed in their Opinion that there is no God, or first Cause of Things, but that the World was from Eternity ; yet it is evident, that that Herd of Men, called Deifts, are too numerous ; and yoil may
every where those who will not own the Providence of God, or that they shall give any Account of their Actions: Which were looked upon as a Sort of Atheists by the more sober Part of the Heathen World.
THERE are others, who, with the Sadduces of old, will not believe there is any Angel or Spirit, neither can be brought
to acknowledge any other Devil, but that Serm, of an accusing Conscience.
And what XI. can be the Consequence of these foolish and irrational Fancies, but that every one should follow the Dictates of his own depraved Appetites, and swim down the Stream of his vicious Inclinations ? For, if there is no Tempter and Seducer, what Need is there of being vigilant and watchful? And, if there is no future Account to be given, why should they put themselves under such uneafy Restraints ? To these I shall only answer in the Words of the wise Man, Rejoice, O young Man, in Eccl. xi. thy Youth, and let thy Heart chear thee ing. the Days of thy Youth, and walk in the Ways of thy Heart, and in the Sight of thine Eyes ; but know thou, that, for all these Things, God will bring thee to Yudgment.
2. The next Thing, which takes Men off from their
Watchfulness and Sobriety, is Inconsideration ; the Neglect of making a just Estimate of Things, or considering what the natural Consequences of their Actions will be. Such Persons do believe there is a supreme Being, who at first created and ftill governs the World, and will hereafter dispense his just Rewards and Punishments, according to our Deeds ; these Doctrines appear to them so highly