Imatges de pÓgina

O pray

thou be one, O sinner, that restrainest prayer before God this day, it is a black mark of a graceless heart ; for a spirit of grace and supplication go still together. As difficulty of breathing, and painfulness in speaking, are symptoms of a sick body; so aversion to prayer is a sad sign of a sick soul : for prayer is the soul's breath and speech to God, Lam. iii. 16. Again, consider the danger of living in the neglect of this duty. If Satan might have his wish against thee (saith one,) it would be this, that thou mightest lead a prayerless life, for then he is as sure of thee as a robber is of a traveller, whom he hast fast bound, lying in a ditch, and his mouth stopt that he cannot cry for help erless sinner, consider Satan has thee fast bound, and is just ready to murder thee ; and wilt thou not cry to God for help. Moreover, think what a brutish thing it is to live prayerless, as alas many do ; they rise like the beasts in the morning, they work with the beasts all day, and lie down like beasts at night, and never mind to look up to God, till he lay them on their backs upon a death-bed, and then they begin to cry like the beasts, when the knife is at their throat. Consider, Oman, why God hath given thee a coun. tenance erected towards heaven, and hath not made thee to creep on all four, as other creatures, with their backs to heaven and mouths to earth ; but to teach thee, that thou art made to converse with thy Maker, and have intercourse with heaven, and that the world's husks are not fit food for thy soul. We would pity a poor man that was all bowed together, and forced to go like a beast upon hands and feet, with his eyes always to the earth: And is it not a more pitiful spectacle to see a soul that is a spark of heaven, cré. ated for communion with God, so crippled with ignorance and earthly mindedness, as still to be poring and grovelling upon the earth, without looking up to God its Maker and happiness?

Of Sins of Commission on the Lord's Day. II. In the next place, I proceed to warn you against sins of commission, by which the Lord's day is too commonly profaned : And these are either inward or outward.

I. Of inward Sins of Commission. Inward sins, or heart sins, should be carefully guarded against this day, as being most provoking to God, polluting to his worship, and hurtful to our souls. Sinful thoughts are an abomination to God every day, Prov. xv. 26. but more especially this day. Thoughts are as loud in God's ears as words; and he commands evil thoughts to be forsaken, as well as evil ways, if we would have pardon, Isa. lv. 7. Wherefore let us get renewed and sanctified hearts, and overawe them with the thoughts of God's presence

and omniscience: Let us imagine this day, that we hear the sound of the last trumpet, and see the throne set, and God calling for an account of hearts; (for in that day he will judge hearts as well as lives) and, when any evil thought breaks in, say, “ What if God, who sees this, should presently call me to account!". Let us keep a constant watch over our hearts this day, striving to crush all sinful thoughts in the bud, at their first rising, cry out for God's help. Let us be sensible what a mass of villany is in the heart. “ It is desperately wicked," as Jeremiah saith ; yea, “our inward part is very wickedness," Psal. v. 9. Hence it was that Luther professed, that he “ feared his heart more than the pope or the cardinal :". And Augustine prayed, “ Libera me, Domine, a meipso.” The heart is like the Trojan horse, out of whose belly proceeded armed enemies, so out of the heart proceed all evil words and actions, Matt. xv. 19. It is the corrupt fountain, from whence all the impure streams of actual sin do flow; therefore we should look narrowly to it.

But besides incident evil thoughts, we have many evil habits and plagues of heart, that we should guard against on the Sabbath, being such as profane the day, and hinder the sanctification of it: Particularly,

1. Atheism, and misbelief of God's truths. If this har. bour or prevail in us, we can reap no profit by the word read or preached this day. Why do people delay or refuse to embrace Christ, and leave their sins, but because they want a fixed and firm impression of the truths of the gospel upon their hearts ? It is true, you will not say that you misbelieve any of them, but you give no heart assent to the truth of them, which is little better ; you give no firm inward credit to the gospel, and to all its assertions, commands. threatenings and promises, that they are come from God, and are most true, certain and infallible. Were you once firmly persuaded of the certainty of eternal life and eternal death, you would not stand so long hovering betwixt heaven and hell. If once you had the firm impressions of eternal death, you would presently “flee from the wrath to come :” and if you had a due sense of eternal life, you would “ run to take hold of the hope set before you,

," Heb. vi. 18. But alas ! nature is half blind, and cannot see afar off, 2 Pet. i. 9. To carnal hearts and eyes, there seems to be a mist upon eternity ; they cannot see into another world, and they cannot believe things not seen. But, О if you would be happy, you must stedfastly believe the “ immortality of the soul, and a future life ; that the Bible is the true word of God, and that the blessed God, sent his eternal Son Jesus Christ into the world to assume man's nature, and die for to redeem him from sin and hell." With abhorrence renounce all doubting or unbelieving thoughts of these great truths ; rather doubt of your own being than of these : believe that what now you hear with your ears concerning a future life and judgment-seat, you will shortly see with your eyes : If you do it not, you put the highest affront on God that a creature is capable of ; for you make your Creator a liar, 1 John v. 10.

This is a sin that devils are not chargeable with, for “ they believe and tremble.” O sinner, what further confirmation of the truth wouldst thou have from God, than he hath already given thee ? 'Thou hast his word, yea, his writ, ratified by his oath, confirmed by his miracles, and sealed by his Son's blood, which is far more, and far surer than either a voice from heaven, or a messenger from hell, according to 2 Pet. i. 19. Luke xvi. 31.

II. Ignorance of the truths you hear this day, greatly hinders the sanctification of it. You cannot prize Christ, close with him, or follow him, till such time as you know him. How can such hear the gospel, or embrace Christ offered therein, that know not their ruined natural condition, and their remedy through Christ ? Many know not Christ's love and beauty, his ability, sufficiency and fitness, in his natures, offices, relations, graces, Spirit and fulness : they know not the design of his coming into the world ; the manner of his obtaining our redemption by his obedience and sufferings, and the manner of applying it, and our getting an interest therein, and the necessity and nature of faith in

order thereto. For as oft as many have faith in their mouths, they know not what it is ; they are ignorant what it is to receive Christ as a Surety and Saviour, aš a Priest and King ; and therefore many gospel sermons and Sabbaths are entirely lost to them.

O sinners, consider the danger of ignorance, it is a soulmurdering sin, Hos. iv. 6. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Do not think your ignorance will excuse you at a tribunal, or save you from hell : No, it will rather aggravate your sin and condemnation, to be found ignorant, in a land where the light shines so plentifully about you. Ignorance will be so far from keeping off wrath from you, that God tells you it is a special procuring cause of wrath, and makes you more miserable than others, according to Isaiah xxvii. 11. “ This is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no fa, your."

Again, as ignorance is a damning sin in itself, so it is the fruitful mother of many other sins and lusts, according to 1 Pet i. 14. What is the reason why many swear, lie, cheat, break the Sabbath, get drunk, commit uncleanness, slight ordinances, neglect prayer in their families and closets, and go on in their sins, without repenting or fleeing to Christ? It is because of their ignorance : they are ignorant of God, his infinite justice and holy nature, the evil of sin, and what Christ hath suffered for sinners; they know not what regeneration, repentance and faith are, for all they speak of them; and how then can they practice thein ; or cry to God for them?

Object, “0 (say some ignorant creatures) many have knowledge that make no good use of; yea, they are more graceless and profane than we.”

Ans. All this is too true, and these will have a sad ac. count to make one day for sinning against so much light. But this will be no help to you ; for profanity kills them, and ignorance kills you : they die of one disease, and you die of another : and your disease is as sure to kill as theirs. For you to reject knowledge, because some who have it, abuse it and perish, is as ridiculous as for you to say, because many die who have both food and physic, and plenty of means for preserving life, I will use no means for

preserving my life at all; for whoever die, you are sure to die : they that have both food and physic may die, but they that have none of them cannot live. So, whoever perish, ignorant persons are sure to perish; for they know not their remedy, they cannot make use of the means of life. O ige norant souls, you are nearer hell than others; your state is darkness, and it borders upon utter darkness ; so that you are, as it were, lodging in the next room to hell, having but a weak partition betwixt you and it, which death may break down in a moment, and let you pass into it. When an ignorant sinner dies, there goes not only dust to dust, but darkness to darkness; the darkness of ignorance to the darkness of hell: And is not this a fearful state for you to continue in? What madness is it for you to do it, when Christ is daily inviting you to come to the light?

O ignorant sinners, why should you continue in your innorance, more than those of your rank in other places, who can discourse most sensibly of the principles of religion, and the concerns of their souls, and can pray to excellent purpose ? Have you not rational souls as well as they ? Have you not the same helps and advantages that they have, if you would but make use of them ? Are you not as capable as they? You are as sharp and knowing about worldly affairs as others: You know well enough the rent of a piece of ground, the value of corn or cattle; but alas! you know nothing of the worth of your souls, of Christ and pardon to them : You are well versed in the art of ploughing, sowing and reaping, and know the right seasons for them; but, alas! you know not your seasons of mercy: You know your almanacs, the fairs, and changes of the moon, you know your story books and ballads; and why might you vot know your Bibles as well, if you would einploy the same parts and abilities to get spiritual knowledge: Have you not great plenty of the means of knowledge, if you would but attend to them, and make use of thein ?

Object. “But I cannot read the Bible, and how shall I learn knowledge ?"

Ans. You are at a very great loss indeed; it is hard to get ignorant persons instructed that cannot read : You ought to lament your loss, and be the more in prayer for the Spirit of God to teach you, and make up that loss; and the more desirous to hear others read, and to wait upon the pub.


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