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SERM. and all the Encouragements and Motives XVII. imaginable to be good and virtuous; and

now, if we fight all these Favours, and neglect these Overtures of God's Mercy, how great will our Damnation be ? It would be much better for us to have a Milftone banged about our Necks, and to be thrown into the Sea.

6. My fixth and last Reason, why we should be careful to redeem Time, is that of my Text, because the Days are evil, i.e. because the Times we live in are so wicked and debauched, that it will be a very difficult Matter for us to resist the Temptations we shall meet with. The Apostle, in my Text, has Respect to the Heresy of the licentious Gnostics, which prevailed at that Time in which this Epistle was wrote; and I could with the Argument was not as strong, in Relation to some of our modern Gnoftics, Men who make it their Business to corrupt Morality, by introducing an impure Casuistical Divinity, and hereby extinguishing (as far as in them lies) the very Notions of Good and Evil, and, by mixing Heathenish and idolatrous Rites with the pure Worship of God, of, fering up strange Fire, instead of an acceptable Sacrifice. Thanks be to God, we are, in a great Measure, freed from these

Locusts,

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Locusts, who have thus polluted God's SERM.
Sanctuary; but yet we must expect to

XVII.
meet with Temptations from some, who
pretend to be of our own Communion,
but are indeed of the Synagogue of Satan.
We have some amongst us, who are not
satisfied with entertaining Atheistical Opi-
nions, and living wicked Lives themselves,
but, as it is said of Men infected with the
Plague, they make it their Business to pro-
pagate the Infection; they do not only do
the Work of their Father the Devil, but
usurp his Office also, and turn Tempt-
ers of their Brethren. It is the Glory of
these Men to ensnare the temperate Per-
son into a Debauch, to put the modest Man
out of Countenance, and to ridicule So-
briety and Religion. We live in the Dregs
of Time, in the last and worst Age of the
World, when the Generality of Man-
kind seem to have cast off all Fear of
God, and Sense of Religion, and to have
given themselves up to the Gratification
of their swinish Appetites and Desires,
And now, which Way can we turn our-
selves, whither can we retreat, to avoid
the manifest Temptations to Vice and
Luxury, which continually press in upon
us? There is no way wholly to escape
from them, whilst we continue in this

4 World,

D04

upon our

SERM. World ; this Life is a State of Warfare, XVII, and therefore we ought to stand

Guard continually, and be prepared to resist them ; to be sober and vigilant, and by

taking to ourfelves that Πανοπλία (that Ephes. vi. whole Armour of a Christian mentioned

by the Apostle) we shall be able to repel all the fiery Darts of the Devil and his Emissaries ; and, that you may do this the better, I shall proceed to the second General proposed,

;

II. To furnish you with some Directions, the better to perform this Duty.

1. Let your Thoughts be always employed about some lawful Business or other, let the Devil never find you idle

for, whilst the Husbandman Nept, the Matt, xiii. 25 .

Evil one came, and fowed the Tares.

2. Do not spend your Time in meddling with that which does not concern you; for every Man has Business enough to employ his Time, and he must needs negJect his own Affairs, who thrusts himself uncalled for into other Men's.

3. ALLOT the best and greatest Portion of your Time for the most ne Works. In the first Place, attend the Worship of God, and the Duties of Re

ligion,

SERM. ligion, and those Things which concern the Welfare of your Soul, before you

XVII. make Provision for your Body. Seek first Matz. vi. the Kingdom of God, and his Righteoufness, 33. and then all other Things will be added thereunto.

4. TAKE Care of spending too much Time, even in lawful Recreations ; for Sports and amusing Conversation are apt to gain upon our Affections, and to engross our Time; they insinuate themselves into us, and detain us longer from more important Business than we can well spare ; and at length, by introducing Habits of Sloth and Ease, unfit us for the more manly Employs of Life.

5. FRÉQUENTLY meditate on the four last Things, Heaven, Hell, Death, and Judgment: Fancy with St. Jerome, you always hear the Trumpet sounding, and the Voice of the Arch-Angel proclaiming, Arife ye Dead, and come to Judgment. A due and constant Practice of these few and plain Rules, would have a strange but happy Influence upon our Lives and Conversations; it would convince us, of what Importance the Managing our Time well is, and imprint on our Minds such an Awe of the supreme Being, as would engage us to an universal Obedience to the Laws

of

SERM. of God, and a diligent Redeeming the Time XVII. for the Future.

What remains, therefore, but that we all of us set about the Practice of this great and absolutely necessary Duty ; and if, for the Time past, we have walked according to the Course of this World, according to the Prince of the Power of the Air, the Spirit that now works in the Children of Disobedience; if we have had our Conversation in the Lusts of our Flesh, fulfilling the Desires of the Flesh and of the Mind; for the Time to come, let us make it our chief Care and Business, to make our Calling and Election sure, to trim our Lamps with the Oil of good Works, and furnish ourselves with the Wedding-Garment; and so to employ all the several Talents God has entrusted us with, that, after we have given up our Accounts, we may hear that comfortable

Sentence pronounced unto us ; Well done, Matt. xxv. thou good and faithful Servant; thou hast been

faithful over a fer Things, I will make thee Ruler over many Things : Enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord.

But some may, perhaps, object, that they are so encumbered with the Cares and Troubles of this Life, that they have little Time to employ in the Duties of

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