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go fecret prayers. And, (1.9 put two or 13;
means of salvation are of three forts, secret, private and public. Now, I will put some questions to you in reference to each of them.
'I begin with these which we call fecret, and of thern I shall only name secret reading of the fcriptures, and prayer, Lev. xviii. 5. Rom. X. 13, And in reference to these I shall put two or three questions to you. And, (1.) Are ye neglecters of secret prayer? Can ye rise in the morning, and go to your work, and never bow a knee to God? To such we dare fay confidently, Ye were never yet concerned about your souls falvation. (2.) Are ye ever concerned to know what success ye. have in your prayers ? Most part deal I fear by their prayers, as some unnatural parents do by their children; they lay them down to others, and never enquire what becomes of them, whether they die or live: which argues that they are not in earnest in them. We ever find the saints recorded in scripture in earnest about the acceptance and success of their prayers. (3.) Are all your fecret prayers confined to stated times, it may be morning and evening? Or are ye frequently breathing out your desires in ejaculations? If ye neglect these, it is a fad sign ye are not concerned about salvation. Ejaculations, I may fay, are the genuine effect of concern about salvation. Here, I do not approve of these common forms that people use to the great scandal of religion and offence of God, God save us, the Lord deliver us, upon every turn. These surely argue want of concern a.. bout falvation, and want of due respect to God. Persons duly concerned about falvation will speak of God with more fear and dread, than is commonly in these expressions, which, as they are used, are certainly a palpable breach of the third
command. But when I speak of ejaculations, I mean thereby affectionate and reverend desires sent up to God about salvation: and I believe there shall scarce be found any really concerned about salvation, who are utter strangers to them. (4.) Do ye neglect the reading of the word of God, or do ye not? Such of you as will not be at pains to learn to read the word of God, I can fcarce think you in earnest concerned about falvation, since ye neglect so necessary a mean; at least I think ye have need to be very sure of the grounds ye lean-upon, if ye do conclude yourselves really concerned about it, while ye 'neglect this duty. When people are not at pains to read, or take not care to get the scripture read to them in secret; if thro' age they be incapable,it is a fad sign of want of concern about salvation. I would defire you to consider seriously that one command given by God to his church of old. He gave them his laws and his statutes, which if a man do, he fall even live in them, Lev. xviii. 5. And he gives them a peremptory command how to use them, Deut. xi. 18, 19, 20. re shall lay up these my words in your heart, and in your soul, and bind them for a Sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes : and ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou fittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou lieft down, and when thou risest up: and thou Jhalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates. Every where they were to have the law of God along with them. How they can be concerned duly about falvation, who ne. glect the use of that which God commands, and commands fo peremptorily, I do not well under Itand. (5.) Do ye take heed to what ye read?
Do ye learn to do all the words of the Lord; or
I'come, in the 'second place, to enquire into your diligence in your families : and here I shall say only two things. (1.) This concern about salvation will make those who have families careful in the performance of family-duties, and these of who are members of families careful in attendance upon them. When once a man is serious about salvation, he will be fure to set about these duties which may any way contribute to his fafety and establishment. (2.) When a person is once con cerned about falvation, then there will come regard be had to the success of such duries, that is, such an one will take care to know whether he is in better or worse by the duties he follows. Now, bring these two home to your own consciences: and let me ask you what conscience ye make of performing or of attending to these duties? If ye either neglect them, or turn indifferent as to the success of them, past all peradventure, ye are in a dangerous condition. A man that sees himself in a state of misery, and thinks seriously of salvati
on, will not be content to trifle in thefe duties which have so immediate, so remarkable an influ. ence upon his eternal condition. If he neglects them, then he lies open to the fury of God, which, according to the prophet Jeremiah's prayer, will fall upon the heathen, and the families that call not on the name of God, Psal. lxxix. 6. Jer. x. 25. If he prove remiss, he falls under the wo denounced against the deceiver, Mal. i. 14. Curfed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and voweth and facrificeth to the Lord a cor. rupt thing. And he thinks his case hard enough already, without the addition of that new wrath.
The last fort of means of salvation are such as are called public. A concern about salvation will discover itself in reference to these many ways: of which we shall only name two or threc. (1.5 It will make us lay hold upon every opportunity of this fort. A man that is in great danger, and knows himself to be so, will be sure to frequent these places which promise him safety.. (2.) It will be a satisfaction and matter of joy to him that there are any such opportunities, and that his case is not entirely desperate and hopeless. (3.) When he comes to them, he will still have falva. tion in his eye, and will greedily look what afpect every thing he hears and sees has upon his own salvation. (4.) He will not be satisfied with any thing unless he see how he may be saved. Now, is this your carriage, when ye pretend to be concerned about salvation? Do ye with satisfacti. " on embrace every opportunity of the ordinances? Do ye joy when they say to you, Let us go up to the house of God? Do ye keep your eye fixt upon salvation ? Or, are ye more intent upon other things? This is a good way to know whether ye CM 3 :
be concerned about salvation or not. Now, to conclude this mark, I say, that if ye do neglect, or carelesly use the means of salvation, whether private, secret or public, it discovers your unconcernedness about salvation. A man that has fallen into the sea, and is in hazard of drowning, will haste toward every thing that may contribute to his safety; and when he comes near the shore, he will not spend time in observing the form of the shore, but its usefulness to him. So a man that sees himself in danger of sinking in the wrath of God, will look to all the means of salvation; and that which his eye will fix principally upon, will certainly be their usefulness to himself. That duty, and that way and manner of performing it, that levels most directly at his salvation, will please him best. Į shall, in the
7th and last place, Put this one question more home to you for trial. Will small and inconfiderable difficulties make you lay aside thoughts of salvation, or the use of the means? If so, it is a fad sign that ye are not yet arrived at that concern, which is the fruit of found conviction. One that is foundly convinced of lin, and is thence induced to lay salvation to heart, will not stop at any in thing he meets with in his way: for he can see no lion in the way, that is so terrible as that wrath of God he sees pursuing him; nor can he hear of any enjoyinent, to make him turn back again, that is so valuable as that falvation he seeks after, All hinderances that ye can meet with in the way, to heaven, I mean, such as are proposed for rational inducements, to persuade you to give over, may be reduced to one of two. The tempter must either fay, Desist and quite thoughts of lalvation; for ye will run a great hazard if ye step