« AnteriorContinuar »
and my God? Shall I be satisfied in this state? No, I will look after them with a longing eye ; I'll ly knocking at the gate till God open to let me in ; l'll still pant, breathe, and cry, O Lord, how long ! How is my pile grimage prolonged! How am I detained in this valley of tears, wandering in the dark, and can scarce get any fight of Canaan! When shall the days of my banish. ment be finished, that I may get home to my country and friends above? O when shall I lit at the fountain. head, and drink plentifully, of the living streams that make glad the city of God?” · Obeliever, rejoice in the forethoughts of that day, when thou shalt meet with thy Father and thy brethren, and when thou shalt see thy elder Brother on the throne ready to pass sentence in thy favours. O how sweet will it be, when he is frowning and thundering against the wicked, to see him turn and smile on thee as thy Redeemer! O what love will be in his looks! what melody will that sentence found in thy ears, « Come, ye blessed of my Father !” &c. How ravishing a fur. prise, O believers, will it be to meet with your godly acquaintances, with whom ye prayed, praised, and conversed here ! then, may ye rejoice together and say, * This voice of joy we now hear, is not like our old groans and complaints, nor like the oaths, curses, and
reproaches our ears were grated with on earth. What - is become of our hard hearts, our worldly unbelieving
hearts? Where are all our lufts, corruptions, tenta. .
tions and burdens now? What is become of a body of : death, indwelling on that lay so long on us a dead .. weight ? What is become of the church's enemies we :: often complained of ?" O! these are all gone, they
shall trouble you no more ; you shall triumph over them, as Ifrael did on the other fide of the Red sea, when they saw the Egyptians drowned and lying dead upon the shore : Thele Egyptians, o believer, whom thou once fawest to thy great vexation and trouble, “thou thalt see them again no more."
I might mention many other subjects of meditation proper for the Sabbath ; such as the evil of fin, the yanity of the world, the worth of the foul, the fuffer. X 2
ings of Christ, the last judgment, and many others, which the sermons you hear that day will bring to your remembrance: But, fearing that I have been too tedia ous already upon this head, I must pafs them, and pro. ceed to another private duty neceffary on the Lord's day, which is,
IV. Self.examination.. This duty is near of kin to the former, it being a sort of reflexive meditation, the mind turns inward and communes with itself, according to Pfal. iv, 4. It is absolutely necessary that we should take forme time to commune with ourselves, and ask what we are, what we have been, and what we have done, Jer. viii. 6. And is not the Sabbath a fit time for this duty, when we retire from the noise of the world, and are not disturbed 'with secular affairs? This is a most important duty, and nearly concerns our eternal well-being; but yet it is a duty very much neglected. Many have lived fifty or fixty years in the world, that never spent one hour in communing with their own hearts : There are many going out of the world, who never yet began to enquire why they came into it, and never yet asked the question at their souls, Are you to flit hence, or live here for ever? Why came you hither, and where are you to lodge when you go hence ? Many live in a crowd of worldly business, are hurried from one thing to another, leap out of their beds to the world in the morning, and from the world to their beds again at night, and so neyer find one minute on the week days to take their soul aside; and for the Sabbath, though they have time for it, yet such is their averfion to the work, they shift it all they can, and avoid meeting with themselves, they rather converse with any in the world, than with their own hearts. It is against self love and carnal ease, for a man to turn his own accufer and judge: Therefore many would rather drudge and toil their bodies whole days and weeks at the forest labour, . ere they spent one quarter of an hour at this exercise ; TM and so they live their whole lives strangers to them- : selves. We would think it strange to hear of two men that conversed every day for fifty or fixty years fpace,
and yet all this while did not know one another; and yet this is the case betwixt many and their souls ; for as long as they have lived together, they are utterly unacquainted, they never turn inward to converse with themselves, they have no ferious thoughts about their own state or condition. It is faid of the rich man in the parable, Luke xvi, that « in hell he lift up his eyes," as if he had never confidered nor bethought himfelf till that time; and indeed it is the want of retired confideration, and people's serious bethinking of themfelves, that is the ruin of many thousands. O then, refolve in God's strength, that, in fpite of the deril and your own corruption, you and your souls shall have a meeting, and live no longer asunder ; that ye will imitate David, Pfal. cxix. 59. “ I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy teltimonies." Seeing then you have free time for this duty on the Lord's day, take your souls afide, and enquire into their state; say, « O my soul, where art thou ? Art thou under a covenant of works, or a covenant of grace? Dost thou belong to Christ's family or the devil's? Art thou in the narrow or broad way ? Suppose I should die this night, (for God know's if ever I thall fee the morrow's light) what hope will I have in a dying hour? Where will death land me? Whether with God in heaven, or with devils in hell? Would Chrift fmile on me in the dark valley, or be my Advocate at God's bar? Is there, any saving change yet wrought on my heart and life by a work of conversion ? God forbid I undergo my great and final change till this happy change be wrought. Can I say, I am not the man that once I was ; “ once I was blind, but now I fee ?" Study and enquire into the marks of the converted and unconverted, with the greatest seriousness and anxiety of foul, and fee which of them you can apply to yourself;.cry, that God may open a window in your breast, to let you see into your .. own heart, and soul's state ; and, whatever you be deceived in, beg it of him, that he may not fuffer you to be deceived in this momentous point, where your foul and your all is at the stake. And, if you find yourself in a bad state, “ give no rest to your eyes, no sumber
to your eye-lids," till, in God's strength, you resolve on a thorough change.
Lafly, It is incumbent on every private Christian on the Lord's day, to practise the works of charity and mercy, both to the souls and bodies of men. Study to promote the edification of others by good counsels, instructions, admonitions, and reproofs. . Comfort the afflicted, supply those that are in straits, visit the fick and those that are in misery. These are proper duties on the Sabbath, and God is highly pleased with them, James i. 27. If we praclise these duties conscientiously, we may both do good and get good; we may both give direction and comfort to the distrefted, and receive in. struction and comfort to ourselves : Though we may not enquire at the dead, yet we may learn many wholesome lessons from the dying. And would to God that both the persons visiting and visited were more fpiritual in their converse than ordinarily they are ! for then this duty would be found very edifying and profitable. But if, when we visit the fick this day, we spend the time in worldly discourse, and not for the spiritual ad. vantage of the sick, and others present, we profane the Sabbath, instead of fanctifying it.
Do we see some oppreffed by continual lumbering and sleeping, when death is supposed to be near, so that they cannot think on their everlasting state? Let this teach us to remember our latter end, and awake our souls to their work, while we are in health. '.
Do we see others troubled with ravings ? let it teach us to employ our reason for our fouls advantage while we have the use of it.
Do we see some fadly discomposed with extreme pains and agonies ? let it mind us to dispatch our work while health and ease remain with us. "
Do we observe their fight failing, tongue faultering, or hearing growing worse? O let this teach us to “ make a covenant with our eyes," and turn them “ away from beholding vanity;" to use our tongues for God's glory, and beware of abusing them now, while we have the use of them; and to employ our ears for hearing spiritual instructions, while they are in case for it.
DIRECTION III. Concerning the Special Order, Method and Manner, where.
in the Duties of the Sabbath are to be performed. THE Lord requires us, not only to take heed to the
I matter of our duties, but also to the manner of them ; not only to do what is good, but to do it well. As we must seek God in due ordinances, so we must seek him in a due order, 1. Chron. xv. 13. Very much depends upon the circumstances of our actions, therefore we must look narrowly to them.
That we may take a view of the sanctification of the • Sabbath complexly, and the order and circumstances of
the duties therein required; there are three things to be considered:
1. What is requisite in order to prepare for the Sabo bath, before it come.
2. What is requisite in performing the duties of the Sabbath when it is come.
3. What is requisite at the end of the Sabbath, or when the work thereof is over.
"I. Concerning our Preparation for the Sabbath. AS to the first, that it is needful to prepare for the Sabbath, cannot be denied, if we consider the word remember prefixed to the commandment, “ Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” We must remember it before it come, so as to provide for it. Moses calls the people, Exod. xvi. 23, to mind that “ to-morrow is the
rest of the holy Sabbath.” '. Again, if we consider the nature of the Sabbath· work, and our unfitness for it, preparation for it will be
found very needful. We are called this day to make solemn and near approaches to that God, who is a glo. rious Spirit, and to hold communion with him who is infinitely holy; and is it not very necessary that we, who are naturally carnal, and much involved in worldly bufiness chrough the week, should endeavour to abstract our thoughts from earthly things, that we may draw