« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
there a little enqnire what ye do. (1.) Whether take ye most time in the morning for adorning your souls, or for adorning your bodies? I fear the soul gets the least part of your time: nay, it may be, some of you will go abroad to your employments, and never bow a knee to God. Sure, here is- sin enough to sink you lower than the. grave. (2.) If you do pray in secret, what leads you to it? Is it conscience of duty ? Is it custom, or some such principle as this? I fear few can fay, that when they go to prayer, they do it from a sincere respect to their duty; and therefore I fear, but few can justify themselves as to their design in the duty. (3.) When you do pray, is it a bur. den to you? Are ye soon weary bf it, and glad when it is over and by, hand, as it were? I fear most of your consciences can tell that it is indeed so, that ye say of the service of God, What a burden is it to you? (4.) Once more I would alk you, What good get ye by your prayers? Can ye ever say, that you were heard? Can ye ever say, ye received grace for enabling you to the conscientious discharge of any duty ? Moft part, I fear, can say no more of their prayers, but that they prayed, or rather have said words, without any sense, either of the advantage of doing so, or of the need they stand in of the things they ask of God in prayer: doth not conscience tell that it is fo with many of you? . .
6. And lastly, I would come a little nearer for the discovery of your finfulness. I have a question or two to put to you, in reference to your thoughts. And, (1.) I ask you, What thoughts are most numerous ? Whether spend ye maniert thoughts about your souls, or about your bodies; about God or about the world; about other
things that contribute nothing to your happiness, or about that which tends to the eternal security of your souls? Here if ye look in, you will find crouds of fins. (2.) What thoughts take ye most delight in? If these be carnal and earthly, then such is your mind; and to be carnally minded is death, Rom. viii, 6. (3.) What thoughts do ye allow yourselves in and to what sort of them do ye give way? If these be not such as make for the glory of God, then here ye are found guilty before God. .
Now, we have done with you of a middle age; in what we have said for your conviction, we have rather mentioned such things as are unquestionably sinful, than endeavoured to restrict ourselves to these fins that are peculiarly incident to your age. This we have willingly shunned, because it ? would have obliged us to spend almost as many fermons, as there are different ways of life to which persons of this age do betake themselves. Before I proceed to the third sort of persons, I shall put a few questions to you. (1.) Though ye had been guilty of no more sins, save these which we charged not long ago upen children, would not these have been sufficient to have ruined you? (2.) What will then your case be, who have over and above all these which we have now laid to your charge, and referred to your own consciences for proof of what we have faid? (3.) When generals make you guilty of so many sins, what will particulars do? When ye are found guilty so many ways in your thoughts or words; for example, What will be your case, when you are brought to particulars? If ye may fin ty peaking idly, by speaking ill of others, what will it amount to, when every particular idle word
shall be charged upon you? (4.) If every sin deferves the wrath of God, what will be the case of these who shall step into eternity, laden with all these innumerable evils ? How many hells will their one hell have in it? ..Think, and think seriously, upon these things, and I believe ye will find it hard to rest satisfied, till ye understand how such vast debts may be difcharged, and how ye shall answer when reproved for so many, and so great offences. Think on these things, I say, and dwell upon the thoughts of them, till ye be made to see your own misery, and then the news of a saviour will be welcome.
I shall now proceed, in the third place, to speak to you who are old men. Ye whose faces speak your age, and tell that ye are quickly to be gone; we are now particularly to address ourselves to you, and to make good our charge of sin against you, from incontestable evidences and proofs. Give ear therefore, old men and old women; tho' you be posting off the stage, and, it may be, are within a few removes of eternity, yet ye have not perhaps duly considered your own state and condition : we must tell you in God's name, ye have finned and come short of his glory. And for proof of this,
1. We need go no further than your very faces. What has consumed your youthful beauty? What has turned that smoothness which in the days of your youth was, it may be, your own de. light, and that of others, into these many wrinkles which now every one sees, and ye may feel? has not fin, or God, upon the account of sin, done it? Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, says Job, which is a witness against me, and my leanness rising up in me, beareth witness to my face, Job
xvi. 8. If ye be not finners, tell me, I pray, whence are the unsteady hands, the dim eyes, the mouldred teeth, that paleness of the visage, that approaches near to the colour of that mould into which a little hence ye are to be turned ? Are not all these things proofs of your guilt, and witnesses against you? . • 2. Have not ye past through childhood and youth? and have not ye the sins done in these ages to account for? What, how many, and how grievous they are, ye may in some measure understand, from what has been discoursed on this head some days past. Now, sure if your consciences have been awake all the while, you might understand your concernment in these things, and how deeply guilty ye are, though ye had no more to account for but these. It is accounted, by the fpirit of God, to be one of the great miseries of the wicked, that they shall ly down in their graves with their bones full of the fins of their youth. His bones are full of the sins of his youth, which shall ly down with him in the dust, Job XX. 11. These, though there were no more, will rot your bones, gnaw your hearts, and make you lose the repose which many times ye propose to, yourselves in the grave. "
3. Ye have had much time, and have, no doubt, loft much time. Many precious hours and days and years are spent and gone, and nothing, or nothing to purpose, done in them. And for evincing this, I shall put a few questions to you about the improvement of your time. (1.) What have ye done for God in it? The great business ye came into the world for, the great design of your creation, was the advancement of the glory of God. The Lord hath made all things for himself;
and even the wicked for the day of evil, Prov. xvi. 4. Now are there not old men, and old women here, who have lived all their days, and dare not say that to this very day they ever had a serious thought of advancing the glory of God? To such we say, Ye have hitherto done nothing but sinned; your whole life has been nothing but one continued tract of fin. 'As many thoughts, as ma- ! ny words, as many actions, so many, fins, (2.) What have ye done for the church of God? Every one is obliged to do fomething or other for the church, Pfalm. cxxii. 6, 7. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee, Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions fakes I will now say, Peace be within thee : because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good. Now, are there not old men and old women here, who never shed one tear for the church of God, who never were concerned for its welfare?
I fear there are not a few here, even old people, ''who have seen many changes, but never had any
concern for the church of God. If their private worldly concerns went well with them, it was all a matter to them what became of religion ; let it sink or swim, it was all one to them. Such are grievous finners before the Lord. (3.) What have ye done for your souls ? The Lord has given every one of us a great work to do. We have our salvation to work out with fear and trembling. He has given us a day to do it in; and that day is to be followed with an evening wherein none can work. Now, what of this work is by hand? Your day is almost fpent: is it not the twilight with many of you already? I fear, I fear, there are here old men, over whom the shadows of the