« AnteriorContinuar »
prevail not, conviction is rare, and conversion is more rare. Many have not a form of godliness left them; and few have any thing but a form of it. Many are crying out against the sins of others, while the visible blots in their own lives do not make them smite on their own breasts and say What have I done! God grant that the contempt and abuse of gospel-privileges bring not a removal of the kingdom of God from us.
(3.) Abuse and misimprovement of temporal mercies. It is observable, that with the promise of plenty to the church, using their plenty in a holy becoming manner, the promise of the taking away of sickness is joined, Exod. xxiii. 25. Deut. vii. 12,-14. This says that God punisheth abuse of plenty with sickness. God has given the country plenteous years; and what has been the issue of it, but contempt of God and the rules of righteousness, increase of pride and vanity, and drunkenness, with an unordinary abuse of that fiery li quor, never ordained for ordinary drinking; masters breaking the yoke, undermining and undoing one another through the country; servants bursting all bonds, and turned quite unmanageable and undutiful? The last year, a little before this time, I gave warning from the Lord's word against these things particularly *; but I think there was never more of them, in my time, than followed upon the back of it. No wonder then, that God has shapen us out another piece of work this year.
Let these things be weighed in an even balance, as in the sight of God, by us all. And let particular persons and families, especially those who have been or are under the rod, inquire into the causes of God's quarrel with them, that they may see why the Lord contendeth.
2. To be humbled under the causes of the Lord's anger, and to turn to a smiting God in Christ. This would be our wisdom, Lev. xxvi. 41, 42, Micah, vi. 9. It is not time to stand in the way of sinners, when God is risen up to plead; it is high time to fall down before him in humiliation, and to fall off from God-provoking courses by reformation. Hear the voice of the rod. It is crying two things loudly this day.
In a difcourfe preached March 19, 1719, from Josh. ix. 14. which is printed in a collection of ten fermons of the author's published in 1772 It is the ninth in that collection, and deferves a ferious perufal.
(1.) Improve a season of the gospel. Some sermons have of late been the last to them that heard them. Some heard the sermon on the Lord's day in health, that were in eterpity ere the next Sabbath. This says, Hear ye every day as if it were to be your last.
(2.) Improve temporal mercies, lest God be provoked to take them from you. Health and strength, and other temporal conveniences, are to be wisely managed, for ye see we have no tack of them, Eccl. ix, 10.
3. To be upon your guard, and manage sickerly for eternity, while you live. Remember the parable of the wise and foolish builder, and how apt ye are to play the fool in these matters, while health and strength lasts.
(1.) Beware ye be not cheated out of your most valuable interests, by a deceitful heart, a treacherous world, and a wily devil. Satan goes about many a poor simple one, till they are tricked of their souls, their part of Christ and heayen, and all the happiness of another world, Matth. xvi. 26. And wherefore do they part with them, but for the gratifying of a lust, which is a practice more foolish than if one should part with an estate for a childish toy. So did Esau. Wherefore be wise in time.
(2.) Beware the best bargain slip not through your fingers, while ye are pursuing vanities, Prov. xvii. 16. Alas! there are not a few, who, being busied with vanities of this world, which pass away with the using, miss the opportunity of making the treasure hid in the field of the gospel their own. Therefore be wise.
(3.) Beware of feeding yourselves with dreams and fancies, wherein there is no reality. There are many foolish virgins with lamps without oil, and foolish builders on the sand, There are many whose life is but one continued dream, wherein they judge aright of nothing, neither God, heaven, hell, or the world. So that their awakening cannot be but terrible. But be ye wise,
4. To prepare timeously for death and judgment, Matth. xxiv. 44. It is certain that naturally we are quite out of case for that great change: and, alas! we are naturally unwilling to think of it, or provide for it. But necessity has no law, We must die; and we must either be provided for death, or we are ruined: and if we be not timely provided, our candle may be put out ere our work be done.
(1.) Get habitual preparation for death, in a gracious state, Rom. viii. 1. Be sure to get out of the state of nature into the state of grace. And then come death when it will, it will but transport you into the state of glory. And there are two things here to be secured.
[1.] Get your title to heaven fixed. None will get thither but those who have a right to it, Mat. xxv. 34. 2 Cor. v. 1. To others the door will be cast in their face. But, ye may say, how may we get a title to heaven? Ans. Marry the Heir, and heaven shall be your dowry. The everlasting covenant is offered to you in the gospel, God to be your God in Christ, and Christ to be yours in all his offices. Therefore make a solemn deliberate transaction with God this night, embracing Christ in the covenant, and consenting to it, with an eye to death and eternity.
[2.] Get a fitness for heaven wrought in you, Col. i. 18. For ye cannot be meet for it, till your nature be changed. How may we get that fitness? may ye say. Ans. Believe and embrace Jesus Christ, for his spirit of sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30. There is a fulness of the Spirit in him to be communicated, and faith must eye Christ for his sanctifying Spirit. Put off the old man, and put on the new man: be new creatures, and let old things pass away, and all things become new. In vain do men pretend to faith without this, 2 Cor. v. 17. and in vain will men look for heaven without it, John iii. 3.
This is habitual preparation, which whoso have, if they should be struck dead in a moment, or immediately seized with deliriousness, and die raving, yet they are safe; for there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,' Rom. viii. 1.
(2.) Get actual preparation for death, in a gracious frame for dying, that ye may die comfortably.
[1.] Make speed with your generation-work. Whatever piece of work is put in your hand, for God's honour, dispatch it with all expedition, Matth. xxiv. 46. for if ye delay it, ye may loose the opportunity for ever.
[2.] Be habitually tender in your life, Acts xxiv. 16. And beware of any standing controversy betwixt God and you; for if there be any such, it will readily stare you in a dying hour.
[3.] Be weaned from the world, and hold a loose grip of all you have in it, that it may drop like Joseph's mantle.
(4.) Keep waking and watchful, Luke xii. 36. Be much in the thoughts of death, and the life to come, that ye be not surprised*.
[5,] Lastly, To prepare for more public and general trials and calamities. This is a piece of wisdom to be learned from such a dispensation. For lesser strokes are usually the forerunners of greater ones. Sodom and Gomorrah were tried with a lesser stroke, ere they were destroyed by fire from heaven, Gen. xiv. 10. And our Lord told the Jews, that unless they repented, they should perish, Luke xiii. 5.; which threatening was accomplished in the destruction of Jerusalem. The day may yet come, wherein men shall praise the dead, that are already dead; and they may miss this stroke, who ane reserved for a worse, and shall meet with it ere all be done. In a time when the cup of God's anger is going through a land, they that drink first usually fare best. How .are we to prepare? may ye say. Ans. Keep your garments -clean from the sins and snares of the day, and place where ye live, and take up your lodging in the sure and unalterable covenant of grace, and then no evil shall befal you.
TWO FORMS OF PERSONAL COVENANTING BY THE AUTHOR.
[As Mr BOSTON, has in his writings accurately explained the nature, and warmly inculcated the duty and neceffity, of perfonal covenanting, or explicit entering into, or renewing covenant with God, by taking hold of God's covenant of grace; it will not be improper to fubjoin the two fol. lowing fpecimens of that folemn tranfaction in his own practice: the first, dated August 14, 1699, a little before his ordination to the miniftry; the other, dated December 2, 1729, about two years and five months before his death. Both are printed from the original copies.]
Mr THOMAS BOSTON, preacher of the gospel of Christ, being by nature an apostate from God, an enemy to the great JEHOVAH, and so an heir of hell and wrath, in myself
* See thefe directions amplified and illuftrated in the Fourfold State, ftate 4. head 2. title, Directions how to prepare for Death.
utterly lost and undone, because of my original and actual sins, and misery thereby; and being, in some measure, made sensible of this my lost and undone state, and sensible of my need, my absolute need of a Saviour, without whom I must perish eternally; and believing that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal God, is not only able to save me, by virtue of his death and sufferings, but willing also to save me (though most vile and ugly, and one who has given him many repulses), both from my sins, and from the load of wrath due to me for them, upon condition that I believe, come to him for salvation, and cordially receive him in all his offices; consenting to the terms of the covenant: Therefore, as I have at several opportunities before given an express and solemn consent to the terms of the covenant, and have entered into a personal covenant with Christ; so now, being called to undertake the great and weighty work of the ministry of the gospel, for which I am altogether insufficient, I do by this declare, That I stand to and own all my former engagements, whether sacramental, or any other way whatsoever; and now again do RENEW my covenant with God; and hereby, at this present time, do solemnly COVENANT and ENGAGE to be the Lord's and MAKE a solemn resignation and upgiving of myself, my soul, body, spiritual and temporal concerns, unto the Lord Jesus Christ, without any reservation whatsoever; and do hereby give my voluntary consent to the terms of the covenant laid down in the holy scriptures, the word of truth; and with my heart and soul I TAKE and RECEIVE Christ in all his offices, as my PROPHET to teach me, resolving and engaging in his strength to follow, that is, to endeavour to follow, his instructions: I TAKE him as my PRIEST, to be saved by his death and merits alone; and renouncing my own righteousness as filthy rags and menstruous cloths, I am content to be clothed with his righteousness alone; and live entirely upon free grace; likewise I TAKE him for my ADVOCATE and INTERCESSOR with the Father: And, finally, I TAKE him as my KING, to reign in me, and to rule over me, renouncing all other lords, whether sin or self, and in particular my predominant idol; and in the strength of the Lord, do resolve and hereby engage, to cleave to Christ as my Sovereign Lord and King, in death and in life, in prosperity and in adversity, even for ever,and to strive and wrestle in his strength against all known sin; protesting, VOL. III.