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ministers' arguings, and silence the clamours of conscience, yet how can their hearts endure, or hands be strong, when God shall deal with them? Their mouths shall be muzzled up in speechless, yet selfcondemning astonishment; they must needs be condemned out of their own mouths. Oh consider, if yet thou be without a treasure of grace, and rather ask thyself some heart-awakening questions, than that God should put to thee such alarming interrogatories : as thus, say to thy soul, My poor pining soul, how is it with thee? What hast thou been doing, and what wast thou sent into the world for ? what must become of thee? what provision hast thou made for an eternal state? where must thou lodge, if thou die this night? And let me propose to you these considerations
1. If thy soul be yet without a true treasure of a gracious principle, thy condition is miserable; for thou hast no assurance of any more means to obtain it, nor to live another day to hear another sermon, or to hear of grace to make the means effectual for thy soul's good. Remember Esau; hast thou stood out so long, and dost thou now presume upon a longer day? Must the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall God leave his ordinary road to do thee good, step aside to meet with thee? God sometimes doth so, but what ground hast thou to expect it, that hast abused grace so long ?
2. Is not this emptiness of good a dreadful sign of rejection ? Solomon saith,
Solomon saith, “ He that hath a froward heart findeth no good.* Nothing doeth him good, neither word nor rod. But he saith, “ the heart of the prudent getteth knowledge;"4 may not you sadly fear judicial hardness, to punish wilful negligence ? One would have thought, if any good had been intended for you, that you should have been possessed of it # Prov. xvii. 20.
+ Prov. xviii 15.
before this; it is a black brand of reprobation to live long under melting ordinances, and be still hard and dead.
3. Wilful neglect is an act of disingenuousness towards God, cruelty to your own souls, and the ready way to banish ordinances from posterity. What ? must God always hold you the candle to play by ? “ Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool, when there is no heart to improve it ?"* Be sure, if Satan find you idle, he will set you to work. Negligence is a sad prognostic, and preparative for eternal torment; and so much ease now, so much torment hereafter. Shall the God of Heaven always heap kindness upon offending, grace-abusing and refusing wretches ? No, no; when love hath said its errand, justice will act its part : and,
4. Your lost advantages will prove your bitterest torment; all men must be judged according to their receipts, and wilful loiterers shall be punished according to their contempt of gospel opportunities. Gospel despisers shall account poor heathens comparatively happy, though their companions in eternal misery. Their bright sun of gospel grace shall set in thicker darkness, and greater treasures of wrath shall be poured into those vessels, that shut out treasures of grace.
II. Another sort to be reproved, are empty and vainglorious boasters, gilded hypocrites that pretend to a great treasure, but are sorry beggars. Some rigid Papists there are, who will tell you they have merit enough, both for themselves and others, that out of the abundant treasure of their good works, they can furnish defective souls on earth, and deliver tormented souls out of purgatory: but believe them not they would make merchandize of souls, and draw them to delusions and damnation. Jesus Christ is our only treasury, there is nothing like merit in a mere creature. Angels in heaven stand by grace, having their confirmation by Christ; sure I am, they have no merits to spare; the wise virgins could not furnish others, but a boasting friar pretends he can, though the most of his seeming good works will rather prejudice himself, than profit others, since they generally spring from that vain will-worship, which is coined in the mint of a superstitious brain, and so would make the commands of God to be of none effect, and provoke the Lord's wrath against the promoters and practisers thereof. But suppose a man could obey positive commands, in practising all Scripture duties, and avoid all prohibited sins, yet wherein hath he to glory? Is he not still an unprofitable servant? Doth he give God any thing but his own ? Is it not due debt ? and is it by his own strength, or by the strength of God? And can he do what he doth, perfectly, without the least tincture or stain of imperfection, or of defect? Let any mere creature shew such good works as these, and let him climb up to heaven upon Acestus's rotten ladder, we are resolved to ascend on Jacob's ladder; let others trust their own merit, but let true Christians depend on grace.* I hope we shall be so wise as to choose Bellarmine's dying safe way, rather than his disputing politic way to heaven; to repose all our trust in the mercy of God and merits of Christ, rather than the tottering foundation of man's best righteousness, which is but a filthy rag, and will rather defile than cover our nakedness.f But I principally design to lash such persons, as hypocritically and histrionically act the • Quærant alii, si velint meritum, nos gratiam studeamus.--Bern.
* Prov. xvii. 16.
part of kings and emperors, but are despicable upstarts, that pretend upon the stage of their fair profession to coffers of gold, and precious treasures of grace; but alas ! follow them into withdrawing-rooms of privacy, and you shall find them wofully dęstitute of all saving good; these poor souls conceit with counterfeit graces to purchase heaven! and by making lies their refuge to be secured from wrath : but alas, the God of heaven sees their false coin and self-flattering hearts; “ All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits,” Prov. xvi. 2. Oh, how many hearts and ways would be found light and wanting, if weighed in an even balance, even in the balance of the sanctuary? At the last day it will be seen that there are wonderful self-cheating conceits and confidences; there are many false hearts under fair vizors, but when these vizors are plucked off, all shall appear in their own colours ; and O what strange sights will then be seen! When wicked men's foul insides are turned out, certainly they will be very abominable ; though now every cunning hypocrite carries so closely that none can detect him, or say black is his eye, yet a time will come that shall bring every secret thing to light, and discover the guile of the deceitful usurer in religion, who thinks to truck for heaven with his stolen wares.* Oh, how much better is a poor soul than such a self-deluding richling, that thinks he is something, yet he is nothing, and so deceives his own soul, plays the sophister, and puts a false syllogism upon himself, as the Apostle James speaks. How many are in a golden dream, that build castles in the air, and fancy they are kings; but when they awake out of their frantic dreams do find them
D'yon W'N Signifies both a deceitful man and a usurer. See Prov. xxix. 13. Marg. For usurers are commonly fraudulent.
selves miserably mistaken! Solomon saith, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, is like clouds and wind without rain,” Prov. xxv. 14. That is, he that pretendeth to give or receive what is not real, but counterfeiteth either, renders himself ridiculous among men and odious to God. Our Lord Jesus “ cursed the barren fig-tree,” to manifest his displeasure against hypocrisy: hypocrites are the most hateful of all persons ; they are hated of wicked men for seeming good, they are hated of God and good men for but seeming, and not being truly good. As hypocrites’ fruit is like the apples of Sodom, that look fair with a beautiful skin, but touch them and they are dust ; so the end of hypocrites will probably be like that of Sodom, which God overthrew as in a moment: yea, these must be patterns to others of a peculiarly dreadful destruction; hence the phrase of “appointing a portion with the hypocrites."* But here comes in a carnal, sensual sot, and applies all this to the zealous professor, and will needs condemn him for a hypocrite, because he makes so great a show, and he accounts himself a sincere saint because he conceits his heart to be good. The former censure is contrary to Scripture, and this latter conceit is contrary to the very sense and experience of mere pretenders to religion; for they may find, and God's children do feel, that the heart is the worst part of the whole man; it is a man's ignorance of it that makes him imagine it is the best. The truth is, no man will commend this common cheater, but he that knows it not; for it is known to be “ desperately wicked, and it is deceitful,”+ or a supplanter, (as the word imports,) that would trip up the heels of the Christian, and cheat him of his prize and reward. If ever thou be undone, it is thy heart that will undo thee: thou dost brag of * Matt. xxiv. 51.
+ Jer. xvii. 9.