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parts and abilities to get spiritual knowledge ? Have you not great plenty of the means of knowledge, if you would but attend them, and make use of them.
Object.“ But I cannot read the bible, how shall I learn knowledge ?" · Ans. You are at a very great loss indeed, it is hard to get ignorant persons instructed that cannot read: You ought to lament your loss, and be the more in prayer for the spirit of God to teach you, and make up that loss; and ihe more desirous to hear others read, and to wait upon the public catechiGing : And also, lay out yourselves with all care yet to learn to read. .
Object. “ But I am too old to learn." · Ans Are you too old to seek after Christ and falvation? Will your age fave you from hell and wrath, if you die Christless? Will God spare old folk dying in ige norance, more than the young ? Many have learned to read, who have been as old as you , were you but wil. ling and desirous, you would soon conquer all difficul. ties. I have heard of some fervants, who have been so fond to learn, that they have offered to their masters or mistresses to quit part of their meat and fee, upon condition they would teach them to read: And, are not your souls as dear to you as theirs were to them?
Obje&. “ It was my parents fault that did not teach me when I was young."
Ang Alas! that parents should be so cruel to their children when young ! But, wilt not thou be merciful to thyself, because they have been cruel ? Their neglect will not excuse thine. As it was their fault that did Rot learn you in youth, so it is yours now if you remain in ignorance, and will be your eternal ruin if you continue wilfully fo: Yea, you will thus not only bring yonr own blood on your head, but also the blood of your children and fervants when you get families; for you will not be capable to instruct them yourselves, nor will you, in all likelihood, be at pains to cause others do it; and so you will be guilty of the same neglect to your children, that your parents were guilty of to you.
Object." But I am ashamed to be learning at this “ age.”
Ans. It is indeed a sbame for old people to be ige norant, but no shame to learn : Yes, though one foot were in the grave, and the other following, you dould still be learning something for your soul. For, what is the world's shame and derision to that woful confufion of face that will befall the ignorant, Chriftless fin. ner at a day of judgment, and especially such as slight knowledge, and will not be at pains to learn? Read that fearful and thundering threatening, Prov. i 26. 27. 28. “ I will laugh at your calamity, when distress and anguish cometh upon you ; when ye call upon me, I will not answer; when ye seek me early, ye lhall not find me.” Oh! these words threaten against the ignorant, who refuse to learn, “ punishment without pity, misery without mercy, crying without comfort," and “ torment without ease.” O what is the cause, say you, of all that fad vengeance ? See verse 29. “ For that they hated knowledge,” &c. As then you love your own fouls, and would escape eternal damnation, as you would honour God and his Sabbath, see that you learn to read, seek instruction, and wait carefully upon all the means of knowledge.
III. Earthly-mindedness doth greatly hinder the fanctification of the Lord's day; for, when the vanities of the world are entertained, they so possess the mind, that there is no room left for other thoughts : The thoughts of the world shut out the thoughts of God: The duft and smoke of this world fo blind the eyes of many, that they cannot discern the beauty of Christ or holiness, though the brightest discoveries be made thereof this day in the ordinances : Thus, alas ! fatan defeats the whole design of the gospel as to many; so that, though ministers tell them from God's word of their soul's worth, hazard, and only refuge in Christ, yet they are fo hot in pursuing the world, they do not hear or think on what is said. This man hath his farm, the other his merchandize, the other his trade, to look after, Luke xiv. 18. so that there is no time in their lives, no room in their hearts left for Chrift. It is in vain to tell many
of securing a mansion or inheritance in heaven; they must have houses and lands on earth. It is needless to tell them of providing for their souls ; they have their families to provide for: Or to tell them of heavenly manna to their souls, they must have bread to their mouths. It is to río purpose to tell them of a way to get justice satisfied, or the debt of fin paid ; they must have their debts paid to their earthly creditors. It is in vain to press them to seek the favour and friendship of God; all cheir care is to get the countenance of this or the other man, that can do them kindness. And so, upon these worldly considerations, Christ the pearl of price is lighted, the precious foul neglected, and Sab. baths and sermons are quite loft.
Again, it is a gross profanation of this holy day, for people to allow themselves to think upon their crades and worldly commerce, when they are in God's house. As Christ whipped the buyers and sellers out of the temple when he was on earth, fo he will not suffer you to make the public affemblies of his people a place of merchandize, by thoughtfulness about worldly gain and profit. Your businels in God's house this day is with the great God only, and therefore you must attend to nothing but his work and service : But, if you indulge worldly thoughts, you will provoke God, and mar all your public perforniances. · Be not like Martha this day, “ careful and troubled about many things,” things that will not avail you at the dying hour, or through eternity ; but imitate Mary this day, sit at Christ's feet, mind the one thing necel sary, and chuse the good part which shall not be taken from you.
Moreover, consider how dangerous this evil is to the salvation of your souls. It may be said of worldliness, compared with other fins, as was said of Saul and David, when any one fin “ kills its thousands, this flays its ten thousands:” O what havock makes it in the vilible church! What Pharaoh said of the Israelites, Exod. xiv. 3. may well be applied to many professed Christians; they are intangled in the land, the wilderness hath but them in. The world, like bird lime, clogs the
soul's foul's wings, that it cannot mount up to heaven. Many, like Lot's wife, set out fairly for the Zoar of heaven; but their hearts hanker after the Sodom of this earth, which causeth them to look ftill back, back, till they perish in the way.
Again, confider what a rain and empty thing the world is, though obtained. It suits not the nature, nor fatisfies the decres of the immortal soul : It deceives all its lovers, and in midst of sufficiency leaves them in straits; so that we ought rather to pity than envy a worldling, whose portion is so small, happiness fo fhort, mistake so great, and misery eternal.
Think what folly it is to dig for dross with mattocks of gold, to bestow the precious affections of our souls on white and yellow clay. How monstrous is it to see a man with his head and heart where his feet should be! to see the world in the heart and on the throne, and Christ at the foot-stool! to see the world possessing God's room both week day and Sabbath-day, and getting the service which is due to him alone! How many are they, who, even on the Sabbath-day, worship the trinity of this world, mentioned i John ii. 16. more than the Trinity of heaven?
IV. Forgetfulness of God and Christ is a great evil, and greatly hinders Sabbath-sanctification. How can these sanctify the Sabbath, who never mind the Author nor the end of it? And, alas! there are too many who have nothing of God in their thoughts, either Sabbathday or weck.day, Psal. x. 4. Though the heart be still thinking, and hundreds of thoughts pass through it every hour of the day, yet God is in none of them. Strange! that every worldly trifle should find room in the heart, and God can find no place in it! What is the reason of this? You may fee it, Rom. i. 28. “ They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Surely there is nothing in the world that we have to frequent mementos of, as of God: How can we look to the heavens, earth, flowers, or grass, without minding him? A very heathen could say, “ Præsentem refert quælibet herba Deum.” Or, how can we look to our bodies, but their curious structure should presently mind us of
God? Yea, every time we breathe, every motion of our lungs, and beating of our pulse, should be a prick or spur to us to mind our Preserver; and in a special manner, on the Sabbath day, every ordinance, every duty, every sentence, every word spoken by the mini. fter, should mind us of God: But the matter is, the thoughts of God are burdensome to all that live careless and ungodly lives; they cannot think upon him, but they mind their Judge.
But, o Christian, consider what a fin it is to forget God, especially on his own day. If we ought to spend every day in the fear of God, Prov. xxiii. 17. much more the Sabbath-day. What ingratitude is it to for. get him this day that minded us in our low estate, yea, minded us when we could not mind ourselves? The love of God in Christ should swallow up all our thoughts this day. When we seriously consider what Christ hath done for his people, one might think that Christ would never be one whole hour together out of their minds, but that they should carry him up and down in their thoughts and desires, that they should lie down with thoughts of Christ at night, and have him like a “ bun. dle of myrrh lying all night betwixt their breasts," that is, in their hearts; and, when they awake, “\they should be still with him :" That their very dreams in the night should be sweet visions of Christ, and all their words should favour of him.
V. Averfion to duty is another heart evil, that hin. ders the fanctification of the Sabbath. O how back. ward do we find our hearts to the duties of the Sabbath! how glad to put them by with any frivolous excuse ! how unwilling to pay God a visit on his own day! We are flow to begin, and in haite to make an end; we are heavy while the duty is a doing, and glad when it is done. Many are driven to their closets, as if they were going to the rack, or as if prayer were a penance rather than a privilege ; they are constrained to it, to satisfy a natural conscience. It is rather a fervile than a son like performance. If conscience, like a talk.master, did not lash them to their duty, they would never perform it. Many, they would rather :