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member our sins! with what scorn should we look upon the licentious pleasures of the world! Then nothing could be welcome unto us but a prayer-book, no company but a comforter and a guide of souls, no employment but repentance, no passions but in order to religion, no kindness for a lust that hath undone us. And if any of you have been arrested with alarms of death, or been in hearty fear of its approach, remember what thoughts and designs then possessed you, how precious a soul was then in your account, and what then you would give that you had despised the world and done your duty to God and man, and lived a holy life. It will come to that again; and we shall be in that condition in which we shall perfectly understand, that all the things and pleasures of the world are vain, and unprofitable, and irksome, and that he only is a wise man who secures the interest of his soul, though it be with the loss of all this world, and his own life into the bargain. When we are to depart this life, to go to strange company and stranger places, and to an unknown condition, then a holy conscience will be the best security, the best possession; it will be a horror, that every friend we meet shall, with triumph, upbraid to us the sottishness of our folly: Lo, this is the goodly change you have made! you had your good things in your lifetime, and how like you the portion, that is reserved to you for ever? The old rabbins, those poets of religion, report of Moses, that when the courtiers of Pharaoh were sporting with the child Moses, in the chamber of Pharaoh's daughter, they presented to his choice an ingot of gold in one hand and a coal of fire in the other; and that the child snatched at the coal, thrust it into his mouth, and so singed and parched his tongue, that he stammered ever after. And certainly it is infinitely more childish in us, for the glittering of the small glow-worms and the charcoal of worldly possessions, to swallow the flames of hell greedily in our choice: such a bit will produce a worse stammering than Moses had : for so the accursed and lost souls have their ugly and horrid dialect; they roar and blaspheme, blaspheme and roar, for ever. And suppose God should now, at this instant, send the great archangel with his trumpet, to summon all the world to judgment, would not all this seem a notorious visible truth, a truth which you will then wonder that every

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man did not lay to his heart and preserve there, in actual, pious, and effective consideration? Let the trumpet of God perpetually sound in your ears, "Surgite, mortui, et venite ad judicium :" place yourselves, by meditation, every day upon your death-bed, and remember what thoughts shall then possess you, and let such thoughts dwell in your understanding for ever, and be the parent of all your resolutions and actions. The doctors of the Jews report, that when Absalom hanged among the oaks by the hair of the head, he seemed to see under him hell gaping wide ready to receive him; and he durst not cut off the hair that entangled him, for fear he should fall into the horrid lake, whose portion is flames and torment, but chose to protract his miserable life a few minutes in that pain of posture, and to abide the stroke of his pursuing enemies: his condition was sad when his arts of remedy were so vain.

Τί γὰρ βροτῶν ἂν σὺν κακοῖς μεμιγμένον
Θνήσκειν ὁ μέλλων τοῦ χρόνου κέρδος φέρει :-Soph.

A condemned man hath but small comfort to stay the singing of a long psalm; it is the case of every vicious person. Hell is wide open to every impenitent persevering sinner, to every unpurged person.

Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis.‡

And although God hath lighted his candle, and the lantern of his word and clearest revelations is held out to us, that we can see hell in its worst colours and most horrid representments; yet we run greedily after baubles, into that precipice which swallows up the greatest part of mankind; and then only we begin to consider, when all consideration is fruitless.

He, therefore, is a huge fool, that heaps up riches, that greedily pursues the world, and at the same time (for so it must be) "heaps up wrath to himself against the day of wrath;" when sickness and death arrest him, then they appear unprofitable, and himself extremely miserable; and if you would know how great that misery is, you may take account of it by those fearful words and killing rhetoric

* En. vi. 127.

of Scripture: " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;" and, "Who can dwell with the everlasting burnings?" That is, no patience can abide there one hour, where they must dwell for ever.

SERMON XX.

OF CHRISTIAN PRUDENCE.

Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.Matt. x. latter part of verse 16.

WHEN our blessed Saviour entailed a law and a condition of sufferings, and promised a state of persecution to his servants; and withal had charmed them with the bands and unactive chains of so many passive graces, that they should not be able to stir against the violence of tyrants, or abate the edge of axes, by any instrument but their own blood: being 'sent forth as sheep among wolves,' innocent and silent, harmless and defenceless, certainly exposed to sorrow, and uncertainly guarded in their persons; their condition seemed nothing else but a designation to slaughter: and when they were drawn into the folds of the church, they were betrayed into the hands of evil men, infinitely and unavoidably: and when an apostle invited a proselyte to come to Christ, it was in effect a snare laid for his life; and he could neither conceal his religion, nor hide his person, nor avoid a captious question, nor deny his accusation, nor elude the bloody arts of orators and informers, nor break prisons, nor any thing but die. If the case stood just thus, it was well eternity stood at the outer days of our life, ready to receive such harmless people: but surely there could be no art in the design, no pitying of human weaknesses, no complying with the condition of men, no allowances made for customs and prejudices of the world, no inviting men by the things of men, no turning nature into religion; but it was all the way a direct violence, and an open prostitution of our lives, and a throwing away our fortune into a sea of rashness and credulity.

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But, therefore, God ordered the affairs and necessities of religion in other ways, and to other purposes. Although God bound our hands behind us, yet he did not tie our understandings up: although we might not use our swords, yet we might use our reason: we were not suffered to be violent, but we might avoid violence by all the arts of prudence and innocence: if we did take heed of sin, we might also take heed of men. And be cause inall contentions between wit and violence, prudence and rudeness, learning and the sword, the strong hand took it first, and the strong head possessed it last; the strong man first governed, and the witty man succeeded him, and lasted longer; it came to pass, that the wisdom of the Father hath so ordered it, that all his disciples should overcome the power of the Roman legions by a wise religion; and prudence and innocence should become the mightiest guards; and the Christian, although exposed to persecution, yet is so secured that he shall never need to die, but when the circumstances are so ordered, that his reason is convinced that then it is fit he should; fit, I say, in order to God's purposes and his own.

For he that is innocent, is safe against all the rods and the axes of all the consuls of the world, if they rule by justice; and he that is prudent, will also escape from many rudenesses and irregular violences that can come by injustice : and no wit of man, no government, no armies, can do more. For Cæsar perished in the midst of all his legions and all his honours; and against chance and irregularities there is no provision less than infinite that can give security. And although prudence alone cannot do this, yet innocence gives the greatest title to that Providence which only can, if he pleases, and will, if it be fitting. Here, then, are the two arms defensive of a Christian: prudence against the evils of men, innocence against the evils of devils and all that relates to his kingdom.

Prudence fences against persecution and the evil snares, against the opportunities and occasions of sin; it prevents surprises, it fortifies all its proper weaknesses, it improves our talents, it does advantage to the kingdom of Christ and the interests of the Gospel, it secures our condition, and instructs our choice in all the ways and just passages to felicity, it makes us to live profitably and die wisely; and without it, simplicity would turn to silliness, zeal into passion,

passion into fury, religion into scandal, conversation into a snare, civilities into temptation, courtesies into danger; and an imprudent person falls into a condition of harmless, rich, and unwary fools, or rather of birds, sheep, and beavers, who are hunted and persecuted for the spoils of their fleece or their flesh, their skins or their entrails, and have not the foresight to avoid a snare, but by their fear and undefending follies are driven thither where they die infallibly. Exa πολλοῖς εἷς σοφὸς διόλλυται.* Every good man is encircled with many enemies and dangers; and his virtue shall be rifled, and the decency of his soul and spirit shall be discomposed, and turned into a heap of inarticulate and disorderly fancies, unless, by the methods and guards of prudence, it be managed and secured.

But in order to the following discourse and its method, we are first to consider, whether this be, or, indeed, can be, a commandment, or what is it. For can all men that give up their names in baptism, be enjoined to be wise and prudent? It is as if God would command us to be eloquent or witty men, fine speakers, or straight-bodied, or excellent scholars, or rich men: if he please to make us so, we are so. And prudence is a gift of God, a blessing of an excellent nature, and of great leisure, and a wise opportunity, and a severe education, and a great experience, and a strict observation and good company; all which, being either wholly or in part out of our power, may be expected as free gifts, but cannot be imposed as commandments.

To this I answer, that Christian prudence is, in very many instances, a direct duty; in some, an instance and advice, in order to degrees and advantages. Where it is a duty, it is put into every man's power; where it is an advice, it is only expected according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not: and even here, although the events of prudence are out of our power, yet the endeavours and the observation, the diligence and caution, the moral part of it, and the plain conduct of our necessary duty, (which are portions of this grace,) are such things which God will demand in proportion to the talent which he hath intrusted into our banks. There are, indeed, some Christians

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