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tongue for thee and mine own heart.” Take, yet, a verse from divine Herbert :
Sum up at night, what thou hast done by day,
Be down, then wind up both, since we shall be
Most surely judged; make thy accounts agree. 8. Tinely make up spiritual decays. This seconds the former. If you find yourselves declining, do not rest satisfied ; let not an ill matter go on, decays and delays therein are dangerous, the further you proceed the worse will things be. A little rent in a a garment, if neglected, grows large and incurable; a breach of water upon banks is quickly repaired at first, but afterwards in process of time, is widened to unavoidable inundations. Suits in law are easily taken up in the beginning, and fallings out amongst friends may be soon composed at first, but when contentions beget animosity, and then a grudge, the agreement is more unfeasable, and the offended party more unreconcileable. If you miss your way upon the road, how speedily may you, at the first, step back, and rectify your error! But the further you go in a wrong way, the more is your danger and labour in returning. Many diseases, that have proved mortal in the issue, might have been cured had they been looked to in time; and, therefore, the rule is, obsta principiis, * hinder the first beginnings of a disease. We know it is easier to keep off an enemy, than turn him out when once he is entered. The juice of a lemon is soon wiped off a knife when first sprinkled on it, without impression left, but its abiding thereon corrodes the metal, and leaves an indelible character. Even so, guilt is sooner removed immediately after it
* Principiis obsta : sera medicina paratur, cum mala per longas invaluere moras.
is contracted, than when it is long delayed; deferring doubles the guilt and makes the wound deeper. David's long absence from God procures to his back a heavier burden and broken bones, but Peter got the breach made up quickly by a speedy repentance; therefore, David learned, by sad experience, to make more haste to God, and not to delay his repentance and course of obedience.—Psal. cxix. 59, 60. O Christians, fall presently about this work. Vow this day unto the mighty God of Jacob, and you will not find rest for yourselves in your houses or beds,“ till you have found a place for the Lord” in your hearts. Make not up the day till you have made your peace with God. Give not sleep to your eyes, till you can, through grace, say, your souls rest in the Lord, and God rests in his love to you *; and, if you die in that sleep, you shall sleep in Christ.
Go to God, poor sinning, pining soul, and say to him, Lord, I feel my heart growing out of order, thou dost not grant to me thy wonted presence; sin is encroaching upon me, temptations prevailing, grace weakening, my spirit cooling, all things go to wreck within me; but I am not satisfied in this declining state, I cannot live at a distance from thee. I dare not neglect the means of my recovery. O revive thy work, restore thy quickening Spirit, repair and make visible in my precious soul thy glorious image, which consists in “ knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness;" renew in my heart former affections, and restore unto my soul thy wonted favour. And thus, sirs, do you betake yourselves, first, to your hearts, and then to God, and use your utmost endeavours to recruit with speed your treasure of truths, graces, comforts, and experiences, and as a candle newly extinguished will quickly catch fire, so the smoking flax of your languishing graces will quickly be restored and revived, and your fainting spirits, if taken timely, will suddenly be recovered. Say, then, with sweet Herbert in his Poems
* Psal. cxxxii. 2-5.
Sin is still hammering my heart,
Unto a hardness void of love ;
Drop from above. 9. Be much in layings out. Mental and spiritual treasures have this strange property, that the more you lay out the more you increase therein: here that text is applicable, Luke vi. 38, “ Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, shall be given into your bosom.” We see, in other things, use makes prompt and perfect: it is use chiefly that makes the right hand stronger than the left—a key much used is bright, disuse makes it rusty—a pump much used brings forth water easily and abundantly—instruments of iron and steel are brighter with use. Thus it is in human learning, gifts, and graces ; expenditure enricheth the possessor, and Solomon saith, “ The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself,” Prov. xi. 25. A liberal soul is a soul of blessing, as the Hebrew hath it, because it is a blessing to others, and the more blessed by God; for to him that useth well shall be given more, as that is usually interpreted, Matt. xxv. 29, (though that must be referred to talents of the same kind, for improving common grace doth not necessarily procure special grace ;) God doth not impart these habits to lie dead in you, but you must stir up the gift of God, employ your stock, lay out your money to exchangers; be not either non-residents or non-agents—Christianity requires activity. The truth is, all excellencies in the
world are worthless, if they be useless. There is much good ground in the world that is neither cultivated nor owned—a world of precious metals in the bowels of the earth, which will never be coined; it is the constant use of money whereby it answers all things. “Improvement, (saith a reverend man,) gives a true value to all blessings; a penny in the purse is worth many talents in an unknown mine; that is our good that doeth us good, and that whereby we do good; and the more we do good, the more we are good.” Therefore, sirs, be active for God; read, pray, meditate, confer, and do every thing with your might, as men that are bound straight for heaven, and would do all the good you can upon earth, and draw with you as many as you can to glory. O how this will enrich you, and increase your stock! But this I have enlarged upon before; only observe, that it is the property of true grace to be communicative, and that it is a blessing annexed to its exercise to be aggregative. A Christian gets most by laying out—God helps those that are ready to help the souls of others.
10. Be thankful for treasures received. Give God praise, and God will give you more grace. As our duty ascends, mercy descends. Man's blessing God, brings down more blessings from God. Adore free grace, and you shall have more fruits of free grace. You are bound to bless God for worldly comforts and earthly treasures, much more for heavenly riches. Should we bless him for filling our houses with goods, and satisfying our appetites with victuals, and shall we not bless him for filling our heads with truths, and our hearts with grace? Must we bless him for a crust, and shall we not much more for a Christ? thank God for earth, and shall we not for heaven? I
Soliloq. 20. Stock employed, p. 72, 73.
fear Christians are much defective in this angelical and evangelical duty of praise. They are much in complaining of their defects and imperfections, and that is good in its due place, and season, and measure, so as to humble them and promote endeavours; but withal, you ought to be thankful for what you are or have. Self-denial and gratitude are very consistent, and contribute mutually to improve each other. You may and ought to bewail your barrenness, though you must also thank God for degrees of fruitfulness; for what you have attained is the fruit of special grace. From God alone is your fruit found—he alone hath tilled, and sown, and given the increase ; let him have all the crop and harvest: to him is this debt of thanks owing. Pay for the old, and fetch new; admire his free grace that you have any divine incomes; though you have not what you desire, yet you have more than you deserve, and so much as deserves your thankful
That is a churlish creature that drowns past kindnesses in a sea of desires after more. I do appeal to thine own conscience, hast thou not something in thy soul worth thanks? Hast thou not seen thy sin and misery—laid them more to heart than outward troubles? Dost thou not prize Christ above the world and long after communion with him ? You cannot deny but you have received sweet impressions of divine truths, and various experiences; and as for graces and comforts, deal but faithfully with your own hearts, and see what they will say to you. Begin to enumerate your mercies, and you will see further occasion of
gratitude; especially recount your spiritual blessings "in heavenly things in Jesus Christ." Thus doth holy David, Psalm ciïi. 1—3; he stirs up “all within him to praise God," and reckoneth up spiritual mercies first. And canst not thou say, he hath satisfied thy heart,