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· 1. As it tends to awaken and excite our care and dili. gence in the bufiness of religion.
2. As it is; if fincerely performed, effectual to engage the divine blessing and affiftance to fecond our care and endeavours, and to secure them from miscarriage.
1. It is very apt to awaken and excite our care and diligence in the business of religion. For whenever we heartily beg of God to aslift us by his grace, to any thing that is good, we' mind ourselves of our own duty: And both reason and fcripture will tell us, that we pray to God in vain for his help, if we will do nothing ourselves; that it is grofs hypocrify, and an impudent mocking of God, to implore his grace and assistance, if we be not resolved to put forth our own endeavours. Prayer indeed supposeth that we stand in need of the divine help; but it implies likewise a refolution on our part, to do what we can ourselves; otherwise we ask in vain, and have no reason to hope that God will hear our prayers, and grant our requests though never so earnestly and importunately put up to him.
2. If we use our sincere endeavours for the effecting of what we pray for, prayer is the most effectual means to engage the divine blessing and affiftance to second our endeavours, and to fecure them from miscarriage. And without the aid of God's grace, and his blessing upon our endeavours, they will all be ineffectual, and fignify nothing; we shall not be able fo much as to watch one hour.' If God be not with us, the watchman waketh but in vain : for the way of a man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh 10 direct his steps. It is neceffary therefore, that we continually implore the divine grace, and that we do not rely upon our own strength, and the ficklencss and uncertainty of our own resolutions, according to the wise advice of Solomon, Prov. iii. 5; 6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own underftanding. In all the ways, acknowledge him, and he Mall direct thy paths. Therefore,' as ever we hope to persevere and continue in a good conrfe, and to order our lives so, as to be in preparation for judgment, let us every day, by continual and fervent prayer, apply ourselves to the fountain of grace
for his aid and
help, to make us vigilant over ourselves, and all the actions of our lives ; to enable us to, a patient continuance in well-doing, to keep us from every evil work, and to preferve us to his heavenly kingdom.
And to this purpose we have all the encouragement, which the assurance of the divine goodness, and the fecurity of his never failing promise can give us. It is but asking and receiving. So St James tells us, speaking of this heavenly wisdom to direct us. in our Christian course, fo as we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. i Jam, i. s. If any one of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. I proceed to the
Third and last part of the text, which is the reason which our Saviour here adds to epforce, our care and di, , ligence in a matter of fo great concernment, viz. the una, certainty, as to us, of, the particular time when this day of judgment will be: ye know, not, when the time is. i Therefore we should always be in expectation of it, always in a readiness and preparation for it. The certain., ty of the thing, and that God hath appointed, and determined a time in which he will judge the world in righte-.,. ousness, though we were sure this day were far off, ought, in all reason, to make us, very watchful qver ourselves, and very careful of all
ftrict and conscientioys in the discharge and performance of every part of our daty. If there were no more bug this, that we muft. one day be called to a strict account for all the actions of our lives, and receive the just recompence of them, and, according to the nature and quality of them, be sentenced to eternal bappiness, or everlasting misery; this alone'; were a mighty argument, So St Peter, reasons, 2 Pet. iii. Jo, ll, 12. But the day of the Lord will come, in , Ibe auhich the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements Mall melt with fervent heat, the eartb.. also, and the works tkat are therein, shall be burnt up, Seeing then all thefe shing: shall be diffolved, what maxner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.; looking for and bassing unto the coming of the day of God ?. that is, making speedy preparation for it. The very expectation of this terrible day of the
Lord, at how great a distance foever, should make us diligent, that whenever it shall be, we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.
But it adds a great deal of awe and force to this jument, to consider, that, for ought we know to the contrary, this judgment may surprize us at any time; that this very night we may be awakened by the found of that nighty trumpet, which shall pierce the ears of all the world, and, fummon the living and the dead to judgment. And God, who is the lover of fouls, and desirous to save us any ways, by, hope and by fear, by his mercies and by his corrections, by our knowledge and, by our ignorance, hath purposely concealed from us the time of his coming to judgment, to the end we may always be prepared, and that we might continually itand in awe of it; and for fear our Lord should come upon us unawares, might always be in a potture to receive him.
And whatever the secure part of mankind may think, who put far from them the evil day, how careless and confident foever they may be, it would, for all that, be a'i terrible thing to them, all on the sudden, to see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with his mighty Angels.; to hear the great trumpet found, fummoning the dead to arife and come to judgment; to see the whole world in a combustion; and the whole frame of nature ready to diffolve and tall in pieces; the fun darkened, and the moon turned into blood, and all the powers of heaven fhaken, the earth, and all the works that are therein, flaming about us ; to fee the dead starting out of their graves, fome with great joy, others in a mighty amazeo ment and fright; according to their several expectations of a happy or fearful doom. What a fürprize would it? be to drowsy and careless finners, to be thús suddenly and unexpectedly overtaken? how will the profane infidel like to find himself so terribly confuted by his own eyes, and forced to believe that which will make him tremble ! It will then be too late for men to think to make their peace with God, and to prepare for judgment: And if there were any time for it, the horror and amazement that liners will then be in, will hinder them from doing
any thing. Thus the scriptare represents the fearful case of impenitent finners, who are thus furprized, as not knowing what to do with themselves, nor whither to fly. for safety, as ready to betake themfelves any whither for shelter and refuge, às calling upon the mountains and rocks to fall upon them, and hide them from the face of him that fits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; hereby, signifying to us, that fippers shall be in such a consternation, and fo deep a despair of the mercy: of God towards them, that, instead of addressing thema', selves to him, they shall turn their fupplications to the mountains and rocks, as being more exorable than he.
But this, polfibly, may not be our case ; this dreadful day may not come in our days ; and yet it is made ; ness to rụn a venture in a matter of such moment : but if it should not, I must tell you, that the case of a dying finner is not much different, who hath neglected God and religion in his lifetime, and would never think of be. taking himself to him, or making any fubmiffion, till his justice be ready to cut him off. And how secure and careless foever finners may be now, no man knows how : foon he may be reduced to the very last opportunity of making his peace with God, and may be brought into : those sad and miserable straits, that no man that is in his wits would be in for all the world ; that he may have nothing left that can give him the least hope of being saved from eternal perdition, but a sudden and confused, and, in all probability, an ineffectual repentance; nothing but this one plank to trust to, which it is ten thousand to one whether it ever bring him to fhore.
Therefore be wise, finner, in time, and seize upon the present opportunities of life, and improve them with all thy might, with all posible care and diligence, left judgment find thee unprepared ; or, in case God, in mercy, to the world, should delay it yet longer, lest death seize upon thee careless and unprovided. And when that is once in view, it is but very little that can be done by way of preparation : for as there is no conosel nor wil. dom, no work nor device th
grave, whither we muft. : so there is very little, when we are come near to it;
and therefore, blessed is that servant, whoon his Lord, when he cometh, fall find watching.
S E R M ON
The certainty, and the blessedness of the resur
rection of true Christians.
1 Thess. iv. 14. För if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again i even
So them also wbich sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.
HE words which I have read are an argument of
the blessed resurrection of good men to eternal life, grounded upon the resurrection of Chrift. In the verse before, the Apostle comforts Chriftians, concerning their brethren that were already departed in the faith of Christ, that there was no reason why they should fo im-. moderately grieve for them. But I would not have yote ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are afleep, that ye forrow not, even as others that have no hope : that is, as the Heathens do, who mourn for their dead friends in fo grievous a manner, as if they were utterly extinguished by death, and they had no imagination of any life beyond this. And thus we find the Apostle elfewhere describing the state of the Heathen world, Eph. ii. 12. that they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers
from the covenant of promise, having no hope. But Christians should not mourn for their deceased friends, as the Heathen were wont to do, who had no hope of a better life ; because Christians profess to be lieve that Christ is risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven: For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, 'even so them also which feep in Jefus, will God bring with him.