« AnteriorContinuar »
Inser. 4. Tlien the exposing of the body to danger, yea, to certain defruction, for the prefervation of the soul, is the diSiate of spiritual -wifdom, and that which every Christian is bound to chuse and practise,-when both interests come in full opposition, Heb. xi. 35. Dan. iii. 28. Rev. xii. 11. No promises of preserment, no threats of torments, have been able to prevail with the people of God to give the least wound, or do the least wrong to their own souls. When Secundus was commanded to deliver his bible, he answered, Christianus sum, non traditor: I am a Christian, I will not deliver it: then they desired him to deliver aiiquam ec"volam, a chip, a straw, any thing that came to his hand in lieu of it: he res used to redeem his life by delivering the least trifle on that account to save it.
That is a great word of our Lord's, Luke ix. 24. "He that "will save his lise, shall lose it: and he that Ioseth it for my sake shall find it." Christians, this is your duty and wisdom, and must be your resolution and practice in the day of terapra* tion, to yield your bodies to preserve your souls, as we ofser our arm to defend the head. Oh! batter thy body had never been given thee, than that it should be a snare to thy soul, and the instrument of casting it away for ever. Oh! how dear are some persons like to pay for their tenderness and indulgence to the flesh, when the hour of temptation shall come! mortify 3'our irregular assections to the body, and never hazard your precious immortal souls for their sakes. It is the character of an hypocrite to chuse sin rather than affliction, Job xxxvi. at.. But if ever thou hast been in the deeps of spiritual troubles for sin, if God have opened thine eyes to see the evil of siu, the immense weightand value of thy soul, and of eternity, " Thou wilt *' not count thy lise dear to thee, to finish thy course with joy,'' Acts xx. 24.
Inference 5. If the foul be an immortal being, that shall have no end, Then it is the great concern of all men to strive to the utmost for the salvation of their souk, -whatever become of all lesser temporary interests in this -world, Luke xiii. 24. There is a gate, i. e. an introductive means of lise and salvation: This gate is strait, *. e. there are a world of difficulties to be encountered in the way of salvation: but he that values and loves his never-dying soul, must, and will be diligent and constant in the use of all those means that have a tendency to salvation, be they never so disficult or unpleasant to flesh and blood. There be disficulties from within ourselves, such as mortification, self-denial, contempt of the world, parting with all at the call of Christ; and disficulties from without, the reproaches, persecutions, and sufferings for Christ, which would
not be so great as they are, were it not for our unmortisied lusts
within; but be they what they will, we are bound to strive
through them all, for the salvation of our precious aud immortal
(1.) For it is the greatest concernment of the foul, yea, of our own souls; we are bound to do much for the saving of another's foul, 2 Tim. ii. 10. much more foraur own; this is our darling, Psal. xxii. our only one.
(l.) Others have done and sufsered much for the saving of their souls; and are not ours, or ought they not to be, as dear to us, as the souls of any others have been to them i Matth. xxi.
(3.) The utmost diligence is little enough to save them. Do all that you can do, and surser all that you can sufser, and deny yourselves as deeply as ever any did, yet you fhall find all this little enough to lecure them, 1 Pet. iv. 18. The righteous themselves are scarcely saved, 1 Cor. ix. 24.
(4.) The time to strivefor salvation is very short and uncertain, Luke xiii. 25. Johnxii. 35- It will be to no purpose, when. the seasons and opportunities of salvation are once over. There is no striving in hell, a death-pang of despair hath seized them, hope is extinguished, and endeavours sail.
(5.) Doth not reason dictate and direst you to do now, whilst you are in the way, as you will wish you had done, and repent with rage, and self-indignation, because you did it not, when you come to the end, and behold the final issues of things? Suppose but thyself now either, (1.) Upon a death-bed, launching into eternity; (2.) Or at the bar of Christ; (3.) Or in view of heaven; (4.) Or in the sight and hearing of the damned: what think you? will you not then wish, Oh! that I had spent, every moment in the world that could possibly be redeemed from the pure necessities of lise,. in prayer, in hearing, in striving for salvation. From a prospect of this it was, that one spent many hours daily on his knees to the macerating of his body ; and being admonished of the danger of health, and advised to relax/he answered, I must die, I must die.
Objection. 1. Do not say, you have many incumbrances, and other employments in the world: for (1.) " One thing is neces
sary," Luke x. 42. Those are conveniences, but this is of absolute necessity. (2.) They will thrive the better for this, Mat. vi. 33. " Seek this, and they shall be added." (3.) Do but redetm the time that can be redeemed to this purpole; Ut not so much precious time run waste as daily doth.
ObjetlioH 2. Say not, Do man can save his soul by his own striving, and therefore it is to little purpose; for "it is not of him "that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that shew"eih mercy," Rom. ix. 16.
True, this in itself cannot save you; but what then? must we oppose those things which God hath subordinated? Bring this home to your natural er civil actions, eating, drinking, ploughing, or sowing, and see how the consequence will look.
Objection 3. Say not, it is a mercenary doctrine, and disparages free grace; for, are not all the enjoyments and comforts of this lise consessedly from free grace, though God hath dispensed them to you in the way of your diligence and industry.
Objection 4. To conclude; Say not, the disficulties of salvation are insuperable; it is so hard to watch every motion of the heart, to deny every lust, to resist a suitable temptation, to suffer the lofs of all for Christ, that there is no hope for overcoming them.
For (1.) God can, and doth make difficult things easy to his people, who work in the strength of Christ, Phil. iv. 13. (i.) These same disficulties are before all others that are before you, yet it discourageth not them, Phil. iii. 11. Others strive to the uttermost. There are extremes found in this matter: some work for salvation, as an hireling for his wages, so the Papists; these disparage grace, and cry up works. Others cry down obedience as legal, as the Antinomians, and cry up grace to the disparagement of duties. Avoid both these, and see that you strive: But (1.) Think not heaven to be the price of your striving, Rom. iv. 3. (2.) Strive, but not for a spurt; let this care. and diligence run throughout your lives; whilst you are living, be you still striving: your souls are worth it; and infinitely more than all this amounts to.
Infer. 6. Doth the soul out-live the body, and abide for ever? Then it is a great evil and folly to be excessively careful for the mortal body, and negleSlive of the immortal inhabitant. In a too much indulged body, there ever dwells a too much neglected foul.
The body is but a vile thing, Phil. iii. 21. the soul more valuable than the -whole world, Matth. xvi. 26. To spend time, care, and pains for a vile body, whilst little or no regard is had to the precious immortal soul, is an unwarrantable folly and' madness. To have a clear and washed body, and a soul all filth, (as one speaks) a body neatly cloathed and dressed, with a soul all naked and unready; a body fed, and a soul starved; a body full
Vol. III. Ec
esthe creature, and a soul empty of Christ; these are poor Jbuls indeed. We smile at little children, who in a kind of laborious idleness take a great deal of pains to make and trim their babies, or build their little houles of sticks and straws: And what are they but children of a bigger size, that keep such ado about the body, a house of clay, a weak pile, that mult perish in a few days. It is admirable, and very convictive of most Christians, what we read in a Heathen. "I consess (faith * Seneca) there is "a love to the body implanted in us all; we have the tutelage "and charge of it; we may be kind and indulgent to it, but "must not serve it; but he that serves it, is a servant to many "cares, sears, and passions. Let us have a diligent care of it; •' yet so as when reason requires, when our dignity or faith re'' quires it, we commit it to the fire."
It is true, the body is beloved of the soul, and God requires, that it moderately care for the necessities and conveniences of it; but to be fond, indulgent, and constantly solicitous about it, is both the fin and snare of the soul. One of the fathers being invited to disle with a lady, and waiting some hours till she was dressed, and fit to come down; when he saw her, he sell a weeping; and being demanded why he wept, Oh! faith he, 1 am troubled that you fiould spend so many hours this morning in pinning and trimming your body, when I have not spent half the time in praying, repenting, and caring for my otvn soul. Two things a master commits to his servant's care, (faith one) the child, and the child's cloaths: It will be but a poor excuse for the servant to say, at his master's return, Sir, here are all the child's cloaths neat and clean, but the child is lost. Much so will be the account that many will give to God of their souls, and bodies, at the great day, Lord, here is my body, I was very caresul for it, I negletled nothing that belonged to its content and -welfare: But far my foul, that is lost and cast away for ever, I took little care and thought about it. It is remarkable what the apostle faith, Rom. viii. 12. We owe nothing to the flesh, we are not in its debt, we have given it all, more than alt
* Fateor instant esse nobis corperis uo/lri charitatem. Tateor rtos hujus gerere tutelam, nee ego iniulgendum Mi, ferviendum tiego. Mult if enim Jerviet qui cerpori serviet, qui pro Mo nimiurn timet, qui ad Mud omnia refers; hujus nos nimius amor timoribus inquietat, solicitudinibus onerat, contumeliis objicit: honestum ei vile est cut corpus nimis charum est : agatur ejus diligentisfune cure: it a. tamen ut cum exigtt ratio, cum dignittu, cum sides, mittendum inignem fit. Scnec.'Ep. .14. p. 545. '.
that belongs to it: But we owe many an hour, many a care, many a deep thought to our fouls, which we have defrauded it of for the vile body's lake. You have robbed your souls to pay your flesh. This is madness.
Inser. 7. How great a blessing is the gofpel, -which brings life And immortality to tight, the most desirable mercies to immortal Jouls! This is the great benefit we receive by it, as the apostle Ipeaks, 2 Tim. i. 10. " Christ hath abolished death, and brought "lise and immortality to light by the gospel." Lise and immortality by a tt S>« JW, is put for immortal lise, the thing which all immortal fouls desire and long for. These desires are found in fouls that enjoy not the gospel-light; for, as I said before, they naturally spring out of the very nature of all immortal souls: But how and where it is to be obtained, that is a secret for which we are entirely beholden to the gospsl-discovery. It lay hid in the womb of God's purpose, till by the light of gospel-revelation it was made manisest. But now all men may see what are the gracious thoughts and purposes of God concerning men, and what that is he hath designed for their im, mortal fouls, even an immortal lise; and this lise is to be obtained by Christ, than which no tidings can be more welcome, sweet or acceptable to us.
Oh therefore study the Gospel. "This is life eternal, to "know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou "hast sent," John xvii. 3. And see that you prize the gospel above all earthly treasures. It is a faithf ul saying, and worthy of all acceptation. You have two inestimable benefits and blessings by it. (1.) It manisests and reveals eternal lise to you, which you could never have come to the knowledge of any other way; these that are without it, are groping or seeling after God in the dark, Acts xvii. 27. Poor fouls are conscious to themselves, that there is a just and terrible God, and that their fins offend and provoke him; but how to atone the offended Deity they know not, Micah vi. 6, 7. But the way of reconciliation and lite is clearly discovered to us by the gospel. (1.) As it manisests and reveals eternal lise to us, so it frames and moulds onr hearts, as God's sanctifying instrument, for the enjoyment of U. It is not only the instrument of revelation, but of salvation, the word of lise, as well as the word of light, Phil. ii. 16. It can open your hearts, as well as your eyes, and is therefore to be entertained as that which is the first rank of blessings, a peerless and inestimable blessing.
Infer. 8. If oar souls bz imtnorul, certainly our enemies are