Imatges de pÓgina

lic catechising and also, lay out yourselves with all care yet to learn to read.


But I am too old to learn."

Ans. Are you too old to seek after Christ and salvation ? Will your age save you from hell and wrath, if you die Christless? Will God spare old folk dying in ignorance, more than the young ? Many have learned to read, who have been as old you; were you but willing and desirous, you would soon conquer all difficulties. I have heard of some servants who have been so fond to learn, that they have offered to their masters or mistresses to quit part of their meat and fee, upon condition they would teach them to read: And, are not your souls as dear to you as theirs were to them ?

Object. "It was my parents' fault that did not teach me when I was young."

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Ans. Alas! that parents should be so cruel to their children when young! But, wilt not thou be merciful to thyself, because they have been cruel? Their neglect will not excuse thine. As it was their fault that did not learn you in youth, so it is yours now if you remain in ignorance, and will be your eternal ruin if you continue wilfully so: yea, you will thus not only bring your own blood on your head, but also the blood of your children and servants when you get families; for you will not be capable to instruct them yourselves, nor will you, in all likelihood, be at pains to cause others to do it; and so you will be guilty of the same neglect to your children, that your parents were guilty of to you.

Object. "But I am ashamed to be learning at this age." Ans. It is indeed a shame for old people to be ignorant, but no shame to learn: yea, though one foot were in the grave, and the other following, you should still be learning something for your soul. For, what is the world's shame and derision to that woful confusion of face that will befal the ignorant Christless sinner at a day of judgment, and especially such as slight knowledge, and will not be at pains to learn? Read that fearful and thundering threatening, Prov. i. 26, 27, 28. "I will laugh at your calamity, when distress and anguish cometh upon you; when ye call upon me, I will not answer; when ye seek me early, ye shall

not find me." O! these words threaten against the ignorant, who refuse to learn, " punishment without pity, misery without mercy, crying without comfort," and "torment without case." O what is the cause, say you, of all that sad vengeance? See verse 29. "For that they hated knowledge," &c. As then you love your own souls, and would escape eternal damnation, as you would honour God and his Sabbath, see that you learn to read, seek instruction, and wait carefully upon all the means of knowledge.

III. Earthly-mindedness doth greatly hinder the sanctification of the Lord's day; for, when the vanities of the world are entertained, they so possess the mind, that there is no room left for other thoughts. The thoughts of the world shut out the thoughts of God: the dust and smoke of this world so blind the eyes of many, that they cannot discern the beauty of Christ or holiness, though the brightest discoveries be made thereof this day in the ordinances. Thus, alas! Satan defeats the whole design of the gospel as to many; so that though ministers tell them from God's word, of their soul's worth, hazard, and only refuge in Christ, yet they are so hot in pursuing the world, they do not hear or think on what is said. This man hath his farm, the other his merchandize, the other his trade, to look after, Luke xiv. 18. so that there is no time in their lives, no room in their hearts left for Christ. It is in vain to tell many of securing a mansion or inheritance in heaven; they must have houses and lands on earth. It is needless to tell them of providing for their souls; they have their families to provide for or to tell them of heavenly manna to their souls; they must have bread to their mouths. It is to no purpose to tell them of a way to get justice satisfied, or the debt of sin paid; they must have their debts paid to their earthly creditors. It is in vain to press them to seek the favour and friendship of God; all their care is to get the countenance of this or the other man, that can do them kindness, And so, upon these worldly considerations, Christ the pearl of price is slighted, the precious soul neglected, and Sabbaths and sermons are quite lost.

Again, it is a gross profanation of this holy day, for people to allow themselves to think upon their trades and worldly commerce, when they are in God's house. As Christ whipped the buyers and sellers out of the temple when he

was on earth, so he will not suffer you to make the public assemblies. of his people a place of merchandize, by thoughtfulness about worldly gain and profit. Your business in God's house this day is with the great God only, and therefore you must attend to nothing but his work and service: but if you indulge worldly thoughts, you will provoke God, and mar all your public performances.

Be not like Martha this day, "careful and troubled about many things," things that will not avail you at the dying hour, or through eternity; but imitate Mary this day, sit at Christ's feet, mind the one thing necessary, and choose the good part which shall not be taken from you.

Moreover, consider how dangerous this evil is to the salvation of your souls. It may be said of worldliness compared with other sins, as was said of Saul and David, when any one sin kills its thousands, this slays its ten thousands:" O what havoc makes it in the visible church! What Pharaoh said of the Israelites, Exod. xiv. 3. may well be applied to many professed Christians; they are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. The world like bird-lime, clogs the soul's wings, that it cannot mount to heaven. Many, like Lot's wife, set out fairly for the Zoar of heaven; but their hearts hanker after the Sodom of this earth, which causeth them to look still back, till they perish in the way.

Again, consider what a vain and empty thing the world is, though obtained. It suits not the nature, nor satisfies the desires of the immortal scul: it decieves all its lovers, and in midst of sufficiency leaves them in straits; so that we ought rather to pity than envy a worldling, whose portion is so small, happiness so short, mistake so great, and misery eternal.

Think what folly it is to dig for dross with mattocks of gold, to bestow the precious affections of our souls on white and yellow clay. How monstrous is it to see a man with his head and heart where his feet should be! to see the world in the heart and on the throne, and Christ at the footstool! to see the world possessing God's room both week day and Sabbath day, and getting the service which is due to him alone! How many are there, who, even on the Sabbath day, worship the trinity of this world, mentioned i John ii. 16. more than the Trinity of heaven!"

IV. Forgetfulness of God and Christ is a great evil, and greatly hinders Sabbath-sanctification. How can these sanctify the Sabbath who never mind the Author nor the end of it? And, alas! there are too many who have nothing of God in their thoughts, either Sabbath day or week day, Psal. x. 4. Though the heart be still thinking and hundreds of thoughts pass through it every hour of the day, yet God is in none of them. Strange! that every worldly trifle should find room in the heart, and God can find no place in it! What is the reason of this? You may see it, Rom. i. 28. "They did not like to retain God in their knowledge." Surely there is nothing in the world that we have so frequent mementos of, as of God: How can we look to the heavens, earth, flowers, or grass, without minding him? A very heathen could say, "Præsentem refert quælibet herba Deum." Or, how can we look to our bodies, but their cu rious structure should presently mind us of God? Yea, every time we breathe, every motion of our lungs, and beating of our pulse, should be a prick or spur to us to mind our Preserver; and in a special manner on the Sabbath day, every ordinance, every duty, every sentence, every word spoken by the minister, should mind us of God: But the matter is, the thoughts of God are burdensome to all that live careless and ungodly lives; they cannot think upon him, but they mind their judge.


But, O Christian, consider what a sin it is to forget God, especially on his own day. If we ought to spend every day in the fear of God, Prov. xxiii. 17. much more the Sabbath day. What ingratitude is it to forget him this day that minded us in our low estate, yea, minded us when we could not mind ourselves! The love of God in Christ should swallow up all our thoughts this day. When we seriously consider what Christ hath done for his people, one might think that Christ would never be one whole hour together out of their minds, but that they should carry him up and down in their thoughts and desires, that they should lie down with thoughts of Christ at night, and have him like a bundle of myrrh lying all night betwixt their breasts," that is, in their hearts; and, when they awake, "they should be still with him;" that their very dreams in the night should be sweet visions of Christ, and all their words should savour of him.


V. Aversion to duty is another heart evil, that hinders the sanctification of the Sabbath. O how backward do we find our hearts to the duties of the Sabbath! how glad to put them by with any frivolus excuse! how unwilling to pay God a visit on his own day! We are slow to begin and in haste to make an end; we are heavy while the duty is a doing, and glad when it is done. Many are driven to their closets, as if they were going to the rack, or as if prayer were a penance rather than a privilege; they are constrained to it, to satisfy a natural conscience. It is rather a servile than a son-like performance. If conscience, like a taskmaster, did not lash them to their duty, they would never perform it. Many, they would rather toil their bodies whole days and weeks at the sorest labour, than spend one hour in secret upon their knees on the Lord's day. How sad and lamentable a thing is this! Is not God's company most desirable is it not God's admirable condescension, and our highest honour, that such poor worms as we should be almitted into his presence? Are we not naturally, desirous of acquaintance with great persons, and why so backward to acquaintance with the King of heaven? Is not the Sabbath a delight to God's people and shall the work of it be a drudgery to us?

Object." The duties requisite on this day are so many, they cost much difficulty and pains to perform them.”

Ans. It is better to take pains, than suffer pains; better be bound with the cords of duty, than with the chains of darkness. The bonds of duty are not grievous; nay, they are our ornament and greatest freedom, Psal. cxix. 45. whereas Satan and the world's service is the greatest drudgery; there is sin in the work, and hell in the wages. Alas, that many will be at no pains for that which will bring eternal glory. but are content to be at great pains for that which will cost eternal pains! The drunkard. thief, and adulterer, run many hazards to serve the devil, and win damnation; they suffer bodily pains, want sleep and rest, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. They draw iniquity with cords, and sins as with cart ropes," Isa. v. 18. They are yoked as it were, in the devil's plough or cart, and he makes them sweat and draw in his service. What bad work, sad wages, and a terrible master have they? Who would be hired by any wages to serve lions and tygers? Is not the

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