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lose yet a far greater pleasure, of doing what I can in my generation for the service and promotion of a holy, serious religion.
Now what is it, but the want of better confidering, that proves to so many their utter undoing? When they will not give themselves time nor leave to think of the things that concern their souls; and have not the wit, nor the patience, to deliberate and reason with themselves, even upon the weightiest points, most needful to their salvation: and so they rush on, in a heedless precipitancy, upon fin and fol. ly, upon peril and misery. Being so dead afleep in their fins : or their minds and thoughts fo taken up and engaged about other matters; that as much as they know, they never regard to do them any good, but their very reason and self-reflexion, which diftinguish them from brutes and machines, ferve even for no more to them, than if they had no power at all of bethinking themselves, or employing their meditatons; any further, than present objects and impulses, (Äriking on their outward senses) carried them away. Thus do they follow the mere impetus of luft and passion; as horse and mule that have no understanding. When, would they but pause and consider, they might so prevent the wickedness and danger. And to caft in some grave and folemn thoughts, (like water thrown on the fire) might abate the heat, if not quite put it out. Here then a seasonable meditation, may be worth even as much as man's falvation. And whoever are but well acquainted with this kind of exercise, need not be told, how
great is the advantage, and how sweet the comfort.
Yet all this notwithstanding, I know not, whether a sort of men will allow the duty, thus to set the thoughts on work; for fear of enterprising any pious office, in their own will and strength : when their principle obliges them to believe that they must be quiet, and do no more but watch and wait : till some divine afflatus, come, and thruft them to upon it ; that they are not able to avoid it. But what then means the stirring up of God's gift that is ia us? 2 Tim. 1, 6. And stirring up ourselves, to take hold of the Lord? Isa. Isiy. 7. For if we must give diligence, fo to ftir up ourselves; it is not the to stay, and be purely padive; till fuch time as we are rapt even out of ourselves. And if meditiri be, , (aş fome derive it, medio animo ire) the going down into our own minds; to hold a fort of communica, tion with ourselves ; are we not put upon
very thing, by an express command ? Psal. iv. 4.
6 Com“ mune with your own hearts.” And would we but duly apply ourselves to it, such conference at home, should we find much more to avail us, than abundance of that chat with companies abroad; which helps so many to forget themselves; and to continue still some of the greatest strangers to their own souls. The amusements of the world, the entertainments of sense, and the hurry of company, are too well known for prevalent temptations; and the common occasions of diverting men, from the principal affair that they have to do: which seldom shall we find better to be done, than when we are alone; and have none but God, and our own souls to converse with. In such abstractions and fequestrations from society and business, from pleasures, and interruptions, we come best of all to know ourselves; and here, (if ever) shall we be in earnest, to do all lieartily as to the Lord.
The course then that I find most beneficial to myself, I am also for recommending it to others. And for such as have not better furniture of their own : or that find any thing agreeable in these preparations of mine; I have gathered together the present entertainment, after another of the same nature: that
any who please, inay take out of this or that, what they shall think fit for their own purpose.
I must confefs, that I see nothing, upon which I can value myself in either, but the pious intention : and neither, indeed, can be expected to prove of any good ule: or to find any desirable success, without the divine benediction; which blefling from on high, may the kind readers, therefore join with me, to pray down upon my poor endeavours, that they may not go off, without fome kindly fruit, but turn to a happy account.
THE FIRST DEC A D.
Of the Lord's mercy in lengthening out my Life.
F one that lives to a great age, and dies full of
days, we use to say, He has held out long, and had a fair time in the world. And must not I thank. fully acknowledge it, my soul, to the Lord; what length of days, and fair opportunities I have had, to make my observation and my benefit, of so many as I have seen, carried off from this land of the living before me? Some in a very surprising manner; and (as I may fear) in a miserably unprovided case, while I have been permitted, still to emerge out of all the troubles, and to survive all the dangers that threatened, long ere this time, to have hurried me away into another world.
O what is it, but the long-suffering of the Lord so to bear with such an injurious finner? And what mercy from my God, that he makes me thus to dif. fer? Ö what have 1 done so well; to deserve any of this favour? Yea, how much evil have I made bold to do; that miglıt have provoked the offended Majesty, to cut me off in his just displeasure ? Is it not mercy to be spared, and get fuch space to repent; and to make my peace above? Is it not mercy, still to have a further grant, of that precious time, which is the only time, that ever we ihall have; wherein
to make ready for a wltole eternity, and Õ who is able to tell, how highly they would prize this mercy, (might they but once more enjoy it) who now have loft it; and are for ever paft ie!
O may I so use the mercy, that it prove indeed a mercy, and kindness to thee, my soul! That I
may not only have more time from the Lord to live longer, but also more grace from the Lord, to live better! For to have more days added to my present life, what will it, but add heavier weight to my future account, if I only have them, and misspend them and will not, in the day, do the proper and needful work of the day?
'Tis a wish that savours more of some sensual indisposition, than the falt of any mature confideration, when fuch as mean me their greatest kindness, ufe to pray for my life; that I may continue many and many years; to enjoy the conveniencies and accommodations which I have here upon earth. When, alas, the longer I do enjoy them, the more fhall I have to answer for them, if I live only to enjoy them. But when I am the fame ftill; or worse, in my soul's estate this year, than I was the last ; were it not better, I had died a year fooner than to live on, that I might grow a more wicked finner ?
O my soul! the chief of thy concern fhould be, what fall I do here, worth the time and the talents, wherewith my Lord is pleased to entrust me: What progress I shall make in my heavenly voyage still further. And what service I shall perform in my Chriftian warfare yet better. That this day may not find me as the last : nor the next come and go, and leave me still as bad. For to what purpose then is the price put into my hands, which I never use, to do me any good ; but bang ftill a burden upon that mercy, which deals with me fo bountifully?
Rouse up then, roy foul, and not only observe the happy seasons that I have, but wiselier confider, how