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ail men that they are so concerned about what cannot satisfy, but so indifferent to spiritual things which are far better? God gives the earth to the children of men, but reserves better things for his people: "Man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them," Psalm xxxix. 6. " They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition," 1 Tim. vi. 9.
We may make use of this doctrine, by way of conviction to the carnal world If Christ delivers his, and only his, then what will become of you that have your portion in this world, that are wise only for time, that have the world in your mind the last at night and first in the morning, and thus shew it is the chief thing you seek? Now consider,
1. Does not the world stifle the convictions of God's word many times? Do not the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the good seed of the word so that it becomes unfruitful? Men lose their convictions, and deface the impressions of the Spirit of God, which they had under the ministry of the word, by their business and worldly concerns. One says, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it." Another says, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them." Another replies, "I have married a wife, and therefore cannot come." Thus this present evil world is doted upon by carnal men, to the loss of the soul. Consider,
2. Does not the world forbid the banns of marriage between the soul and Christ? Does it not break the treaty, and tell you it is too dear a bargain to forsake all for his sake? Many will follow Christ and religion in the time of prosperity, but when Christ and the world part, and his followers are exposed to persecution, they show which side they love most.
3. Does not the world distract and hinder men in the service and worship of God? Though you draw nigh to God in. ordinances with your bodies and lips, are not your hearts going after covetousness? One is thinking of yesterday's business, and another of what he is to do to-morrow. Worldly affairs must be attended to, but let it be at proper times, and mind that first which is of most importance. Consider,
4. Can you take content in the world? If so, you are not of God. When your outward comforts abound, you may be ready to say, with the rich man in the gospel, "Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry ;" then it proves, you "are adulterers and adultresses for know ye not that the friendship of the
world is enmity with God ?" The world will fail you in your greatest need, and what will you do with all your riches in the hour of death, when your soul must be separated from your body? Yet you venture to swim over the sea of God's wrath for this world, which, after all, proves but like a mouthful of water that cannot satisfy your thirst. Fools that men are, to venture on eternal misery for a little pleasure!
Let us use this doctrine by way of trial. God hath "set apart him that is godly for himself."
1. The main care of those who are delivered from this present evil world is, to please God and serve him. They take no thought what they shall eat, or what they shall drink, or wherewithal they shall be clothed; but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, knowing that all these things shall be added unto them. "Cast your care upon God, for he careth for you."
2. They are delivered from the fear of the world. A Christian does not fear the men of the world, neither is he afraid of losing the world; but can say, if God call for it, let it go. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread," Isa. viii. 13. Mind your souls and serve God, then fear not the world.
3. They are delivered from the love of the world. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him," 1 John ii. 15. Inquire, is your love set on the world above? Are you troubled that you lose the favour of this world? you delight most in the company of God? To conclude, try yourselves by these things. (1.) Do you like the world so as to forego heaven for it; and would you prefer prosperous profaneness before persecuted godliness? (2.) Are you weaned from the world and weary of it? (3.) Is there any thing that pleases you in the world, except what drops from heaven, and comes as a love-token from your heavenly Father? If you are delivered from this present evil world, you will pity those who have their portion here, and prize communion with God above all other enjoyments. (4.) When worldly thoughts disturb you in religious duties, is it a great burden to you? If you are delivered from the world, then, when your hands are in the world, you will labour to have your heart in heaven.
A STIMULUS TO DUTY.
HEB. X. 25.
And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
THE text is an argument to press us to four duties, set down in the foregoing verses. First, to "draw near with a true heart." Nearness to God is a Christian's happiness; but distance from him, the misery of the lost, who are to be "banished from the presence of the Lord." It is good being near to God, both as it respects state and duty; but our care in drawing near to God must be, to see it is with "a true heart;" for God cannot endure a false one. We should also see that we draw near to him in "faith;" for faith unites the soul to God, and the "full assurance of faith" renders it comfortable. It must also be, with "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;" for God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. And it must be, with "bodies washed with pure water;" not only with the water of baptism, but a holy conversation. Thus we must study to approach God, because he will approach us ere long to judgment. The second duty is expressed in these words, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering," ver. 23. Here we are exhorted to be sure and "hold fast" our faith; by no means to make "shipwreck of faith and a good conscience." We must also maintain "the profession of our faith." We must not think of keeping religion to ourselves, but own Christ in an evil day and amongst an evil generation, or he will disown us. The third duty is contained in ver. 24; "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works ;" let us not carp at one another, but provoke to love, to love God and each other, and to maintain good works. Let each one strive to go before another in these commendable duties, to quicken one another, " and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." The fourth duty is, "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together," ver. 25. That is, not scattering one sheep from another, for then you will be the sooner destroyed; but joining together in the work and worship of God," and so much the more" earnestly and sincerely as ye * Preached at Radcliffe Bridge, April 24th, 1636.
see, by the signs of providence, we are drawing near to the day of Christ.
Doctrine. That the due sight and sense of the approaching of the day of the Lord, should be a spur to quicken us to our duty. In the consideration of this truth we shall,
I. Show what that day is which is here spoken of. There are four remarkable days mentioned in scripture, and of which we should take notice.
1. The day of grace. and may be considered gospel sun.
It is called a day by way of eminence, either as to the rising or setting of the
(1.) As it respects the rising of the gospel sun. sons have been in ignorance and darkness, and the sun of the gospel appears, it is time for men to bestir themselves; "It is now high time to awake out of sleep; the night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light," Rom. xiii. 11, 12. You have had a day of light and gospel grace; for shame! get you out of the bed of sloth and security, and set yourselves to the work of God in good earnest; "Let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober; for they that sleep, sleep in the night," 1 Thess. v. 6, 7. It is It is very unbecoming persons professing the name of God to be secure and sinful; "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent," Acts xvii. 30. Betake yourselves to work while the day of grace continues, lest you miss the benefit of it, which will be a dreadful loss. Hast thou been twenty, or thirty years, under the means of grace and no better for it? God may justly let thee alone in darkness, and never suffer the light of conviction to dart on thee any more; and then, how sad will thy case be!
(2). Consider the day of grace in reference to the setting of the gospel sun. How ought we to be quickened to our duty at such a time! There are as great signs of a gospel eclipse now as ever. Good ministers die, others are in danger of banishment and imprisonment, and perhaps you may never have a call at your door any more; then so much the more as you see this day approaching you should be quickened to your duty; "Yet a little while is the light with you; walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you," John xii. 35. Little do you know how soon the sun of the gospel may set, and God may snatch his ordinances from you, take the kingdom of God from you, and give it to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. The gospel does not tarry long in one place, and if it leave you, it will leave you in worse darkness than Do you think that if a man come to a town or market,
and the men of the place will neither buy any of his precious wares, nor let him alone, but throw stones at him-do you think, he will stay amongst them? So if we will ill-treat God's ministers, persecute those ambassadors of peace, and are generally unprofitable under ordinances, is God likely to continue with us? Will he not pack up and be gone? It is said of Christ concerning Jerusalem, "When he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes," Luke xix. 41, 42. God is threatening to depart from us, then so much the more be quickened to your duty, "As ye see the day approaching." The scriptures mention,
2. A day of vengeance. If the day of gospel light and grace be not improved, it will be followed by a day of vengeance. If "the acceptable year of the Lord" be not regarded, it will be followed by the "day of vengeance of our God," Isa. lxi. 2. When Christ was foretelling the punishment about to be brought on the Jews, for rejecting the gospel, he says, "These be the days of vengeance." "Thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel, an end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land; now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee," Ezek. vii. 2, 3. A day of trouble is coming upon us, after what manner it will be I cannot tell; but the nearer it approaches, the more should we be quickened in our duties. "Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken: give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness; but if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride," Jer. xiii. 15–17. How often have ministers warned people to return to God and confess their sins, but they say, "We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement." One thinks to save himself by his riches, and another by turning, but God saith, "The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place; and your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand, when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it," Isa. xxviii. 17, 18. The only way is to get into your chambers, draw near to God, "and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." Those who trust and fear the Lord, will be safe under his protection, and there only, when the storm cometh. The scriptures tell us,
3. Of the day of death. This will be either the best or