Page images
PDF
EPUB

leisure for it, and God requireih it not at their hands. And the same most servants think, who have time little enough for their master's work. Multitudes have such dead and hardened hearts, that, when we tell them that they must shortly be in heaven or hell, as they are here prepared, we speak almost as to blocks, or men asleep: they feel not what we say, as if they did not hear us.

We are bid cry aloud, and tell them of their sin and danger, and yet we cannot get them to regard and feel; God saith, “Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light;" and yet we cannot get them to awake, nor hear us like men that have the use of reason, and love themselves. Alas, how many thousands are there whom we could never persuade to consider with deep and serious thoughts, what will become of their souls, when they are dead, nor seek to be resolved of it from the infallible Word of God!

Sirs, this, this is the case of multitudes of our neighbors; and what would

you

have a Minister to do in such a case ? Should we flatter and smooth them up in an unlioly life, what thanks would they give us for this ere long, when they find themselves in hell ?

Would you have us stand by in silence, and look on, while Satan thus leadeth thousands to perdition? Would you have us let them quietly go to hell, for fear of displeasing them or others, or seeming to be unmannerly or uncivil with them? Would you have us whisper to men that must be awakened or undone for ever, whom thunder and lightning will not awake?

Alas, we see men dying daily, and we are dying ourselves, and daily look when we speak our last, and when they hear their last, even all that ever they shall hear more for their salvation : We see how time doth pass away! much is lost already, the rest is short, and utterly uncertain : and the ignorance, unbelief, hardheartedness, fleshliness, worldliness, pride, malignity, and unholiness of sinners, are deep-rooted, strong and damnable evils. We see men when they are convinced, that they must repent or perish, putting it off from day to day; when they are certainly to be gone ere long, and never certain of one more hour: and, alas, a long life is little enough for a willing, awakened serious Christian to work out his salvation, and make his calling and election sure.

a

Sirs, tell us as Christians, or at least as men, what faith, and reason, and human love command us to do in such a case ? Shall we forbear, or speak to them in formality as on a stage, as if we were players, and not preachers, and would persuade them not to believe what we say, should we let them alone, be damned, and take it for our excuse, that they or others were unwilling of our labors ? Shall we pretend charity, and hope that they have already enough to save them, while we see not so much as knowledge, or any love, to holiness nor forsaking of mortal sin, nor any serious care of their salvation ? Is it the office of charity to further men's delusion and damnation ? If we believed not another life ourselves, and that there is a God who will reward them, and only them, that diligently seek him, (Heb. xi. 6,) we would quickly renounce this ungrateful ministry and work ; we could wish that all the preachers in the world were silenced, and that the people would better use their tithes than to, maintain such troublers of the world. But God hath shined into our minds with the heavenly convincing light. He hath given us the first fruits and pledge of glory : We believe a heaven and a hell, and the absolute necessity of a holy and heavenly mind and life; and we know why we do believe. Here we have upon our sober consideration, laid up all our hopes and comforts; and what should we persuade our neighbors to choose, but that which God hath taught us to choose ourselves? And woe to him that ever he was born, that maketh not this choice, and taketh not the heavenly for his portion.

RICHARD BAXTER. December 18, 1676.

a

FROM THE POOR MAN'S FAMILY BOOK.

A PRAYER FOR FAMILIES.

Almighty, all-seeing, and most gracious God! The world and all therein is made, maintained, and ordered by thee. Thou art every where present, being more than the soul of all the world. Though thou art revealed in thy glory to those only that are in heaven, thy grace is still at work on earth to prepare men for thy glory. Thou madest us not as the beasts that perish, but with reasonable, immortal souls, to know, and seek, and serve thee here, and then to live, with all the blessed, in the everlasting sight of thy heavenly glory, and the pleasures of thy perfect love and praise. But we are ashamed to think how foolishly and sinfully we have forgotten and neglected our God and our souls, and our hopes of blessed immortality; and have overmuch minded the things of this visible, transitory world, and the prosperity and pleasure of this corruptible Aesh, which we know must turn to rottenness and dust. Thou gavest us a law which was just and good, to guide us in the only way to life; and when by sio we had undone ourselves thou gavest us a Savior, even thy eternal Word made man, who by his holy life and bitter sufferings reconciled us to thee, and both purchased salvation for us, and revealed it to us, better than an angel from heaven could have done, if thou hadst sent him to us sinners on such a message. But, alas! how light have we set by our Redeemer, and by all that love which thou hast manifested by him, and how little have we studied and understood, and less obeyed that covenant of grace which thou hast made by bim to lost mankind.

But, O God be merciful to us, vile and miserable sinners; Forgive the sins of our natural pravity, and the follies of our youth, and all the ignorance, negligence, omissions, and commissions of our lives; and give us true repentance for them, or else we know that thou wilt not forgive them. Our life is but as a shadow that passeth away; and it is a moment till we must leave this world, and appear before thee to give up our account, and to speed for ever as here we have prepared. Should we die, before thou hast turned our hearts from this sinful flesh and world to thee, by true faith and repentance, we shall be lost for evermore. O, wo to lis, that ever we were born, if thou forgive not our sins, and make us not holy before this short, uncertain lise be at an end ! Had we all the riches and pleasures of this world, they would shortly leave us in the greater sorrows.

We know that all our life is but the time which thy mercy allotteth us to prepare for death; therefore we should not put off our repentance and preparation to a sick bed. But now, Lord, as if it were our last and dying words, we earnestly beg thy pardoning and sanctifying grace, through the merits and intercession of our Redeemer. O thou that liast pitied and

saved so many millions of miserable sinners, pity and save us also, that we may glorify thy grace for ever. Surely thou delightest not in the death of sinners, but rather that they return and live : badst thou been unwilling to show mercy, thou wouldest not have ransomed us by so precious a price, and still entreat us to be reconciled unto thee. We have no cause to distrust thy truth or goodness; but we are afraid lest unbelief, and pride, and hypocrisy, and a worldly, fleshly mind, should be our ruin. O save us from Satan and this tempting world, but especially from ourselves! Teach us to deny all ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world. Let it be our chiefest daily work to please thee and to lay up a treasure in heaven, and to make sure of a blessed life with Christ, and quietly to trust thee with soul and body. Make us faithful in our callings, and our duties to one another, and to all men; to our superiors, equals, and inferiors; bless the king, and all in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Give wise, holy, and peaceable pastors to all the churches of Christ, and holy and peaceable minds to the people. Convert the heathen and infidel nations of the world; and cause us and all thy people to

l seek, first, the hallowing of thy name, the coming of thy kingdom, and the doing of thy will on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us our daily bread, even all things necessary to life and godliness, and let us be therewith content. Forgive us our daily sins, and let thy love and mercy constrain us to love thee above all; and for thy sake to love our neighbors as ourselves, and in all our dealings to do justly and mercifully, as we would have others do by us. Keep us from hurtful temptations, from sin, and from thy judgments, and from the malice of our spiritual and coporeal enemies; and let all our thoughts, affections, passions, words, and actions, be governed by thy word and Spirit, to thy glory. Make all our religion and obedience pleasant to us, and let our souls be so delighted in the praises of thy kingdom, thy power, and thy glory that it may secure and sweeten our labor by day, and our rest by night, and keep us in a longing and joyful hope of the heavenly glory : and let the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God our Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and for ever. Amen.

598

FROM THE POOR MAN'S FAMILY BOOK.

A Psalm of Praise to the Tune of Psalm cxlviii.
1. Ye holy Angels bright,

Which stand before God's throne,
And dwell in glorious light,

Praise ye the Lord each one !
You there so nigh, fitter than we
Dark sinners be, for things so high.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »