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'• God purchased the church with his own blood: @ what
* an argument is here to quicken the negligent! and what atf 'argument to condemn those that will not be quickened up to 'their duty by it I O, faith one of the antient doctors, if Christ? 'had but committed to my keeping one spoonful of his blood
* ia a fragil glass, how curiously should I preserve it, and how 'tender should I be of that glass! If then he have committed to 4 me the purchase of that blood, should I not carefully look to
* my charge?
'What, firs, shall we despise the blood of Christ? shall we" 'think it was shed for them that are nor worthy our care? O
* then let us hear those arguments of Christ, whenever we seel 'ourselves grow dull and careless. Did I die for them, and wilt
* thou not look after them? were they worth my blood, and 'are they not worth thy labour? Did I come down from hea*
* ven to earth, to seek and to save that which is loft, and wilt 'not thou go to the next door, or street, or village, to seek 'them? How small is thy labour or condescension to mine? 'I debased myself to this, but it is thy honour to be so em
Let not that man think to be saved by the blood of Christ himself, that makes light of precious fouls, who are the purchase of that blood.
And no less charge lieth/ upon parents, to whom God hath committed the care of their childrens souls; and masters that have the guardianship of the souls, as well as the bodies of their families; the command is laid express upon you, that they sanctify God's sabbaths, Exod. xx. io. to command your houshold in the way of the Lord, Gen. xviiL 19.
O parents, consider with yourselves what strong engagements ly upon you to do all you are capable ©f doing for the salvation of the precious souls of your dear children. Remember, their souls are infinitely of more value than their bodies; that they came into the world under sin and condemnation; that you were the instruments of propagating that sin to them, and bringing them into that misery; that you know their dispositions, and how to suit them better than others can; that the bonds of nature give you singular advantages to prevail, and be successful in your exhortations, beyond what any others have; that.you are always with them, and can chuse opportunities which others cannot; that you and they must shortly part, and never meet again, till you meet at the judgment-seat
* Gildas Salvian, p. 260.
#f Christ; that it will be an unconceivably dreadful day to see them stand at Christ's left hand among the cursed and condemned, there cursing the day that ever they were born of such ignorant and negligent, such careless and cruel parents, as took no care to instruct, reprove, or exhort them. Q who can (think, without horror, of the cries and curses of his own child . in hell, cast away by the very instrument of his being!
Is this the love you bear them, to betray them to eternal misery? Was there Do otherprovision to be made but for their bodies? Did you think you had fully acquitted your duty, when you had got an estate for them? O that God would effectually touch your hearts with a becoming sense of the value and danger of their souls, and your own too, in die neglect of that great and solemn trust committed to you with respect to them! And you, masters, consider, though God hath set you above, and your servants below, yet are their fouls equally precious with .your own: they have another Master that expects service from them, as well as you. Do not only allow them time, but give them your exhortations, and commands, not to neglect their owa 'fouls, whilst they attend your business: think not your business :will prosper the less because it is in the hand of a praying servant their souls we of greater concernment than any business of yours can be.
Inser. 6. Are soulsso precious? Then certainly the means and instruments of their salvation must he exceeding precious too, and the removal of them a fore judgment.
The dignity of the subject gives value to the instruments employed about it. It is ordinary mercy for souls to come into such a part of the world, and in such a time as furnisheth them with the best helps for salvation. Ordinances and ministers receive their value, not from their Author, but from their Object: they that have a dignity stamped upon them, by their usefulness to the souls of men, Acts xx. 32. it is the feed of lise, 1 Pet. i. 23. the regenerating instrument. It is the bread of life, and Job xxiii. 12. more than our ^cessary food. The word is a light, shining in the dark world, to direct our souls through all the snares, laid for them, unto glory. It is the foul's cordial in all sainting fits, Psal. cxix. 50. What shall I say of the word and ordinances of God i The fun that shines in heaven to give us light, the fountains, springs, and rivers, that stream for «ur refreshment, the corn and cattle on the earth, yea, the vers air we breathe in, is not so useful, so necessary, so precious tm •ur bodies, as the word is to our souls.
It cannot therefore but be a sore judgment, and a dreadful
- token os God's indignation and wrath, to have a restraint,'#r fcarcityof the. means of salvation among us; but should there be (which God in mercy prevent) a removal and total loss of theie things, wrath would then come upon us to the uttermost. What will the condition of precious fouls be, when the means of salvation are cut off from them? when that samine, worse than of bread and water, is come upon them? Amos viii. r I. When the ark of God (the symbol of his presence) was taken, it is said, i Sam iv. 13. " That all the city cried ont." When Paul took his leave of Antioch, and told them they should see his sace no more, how did the poor Christians lament and mourn? as cut at the heart, by that killing word, Acts. xx. 37, 38. It made Christ's bowels to yern* and move within him, when he saw the multitude scattered as sheep having no shepherd, Matth. ix. 36.
Matthew Piris tells us, in the year 1072, when preaching was suppressed at Rome, letters were framed as coining from hell, wherein the devil gave them thanks for the multitude of souls sent to him that year. But we need no letters from hell, we have a fad account from heaven, in what a sad state those souls are left, from whom the means of salvation are cut off: "Where "no vision is, the people perish," Prov. xxix. 18. and Hos. iv. 6. " My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." 1 It is sad, when those stars that guide fouls to Christ, (as that which the wise-men saw did) are let, and wandering stars shall shine in their places. 0 if God remove the golden candlestick out of its place, what but the desolation and ruin of millions of fouls must follow?
We account it insufferable cruelty for a man to undertake the piloting of a ship, full of passengers, who never learnt his compass; or an ignorant Empiric, to get his living by killing mens bodies; but much more lamentable will the state of fouls be, is ever they sall, (which God in mercy prevent) into the hands of Popish guides, or blind leaders of the blind.
Inser. 7. If the foul be of so precious a naturet it can never live upon such base and vile food as earthly things are.
The Apostle, Phil. iii. 8, 9. calls the things of this world * Dogs meat s and judge if that be proper food for such noble, and high-born creatures as our souls are. An immaterial beiog can never live upon material things; they are no bread for souls, *s the prophet speaks, Isa. iv. 2. " Why do ye spend money
* The Greek word for Kyn&tAw, signisies thai nUb
being rejected by us is thrown to dogs. „ .
(t. e. Time and pains, thought and cafes) " for that which is "not Bread?" Your souls can no more live upon carnal, than your bodies on spiritual things. Earthly things have a double desect in them, byjreason whereof they are called things of nought, Amos vi> 13. of no worth or value; they are neither suituable nor durable, and therefore, in the soul's eye, not valuable.';
1. They are not suitable. What are corn and wine, gold and silver, pleasure* and honours, to the soul? The body, and bodily senses, can find somewhat of refreshment in them; but not the spirit: That which is bread to the body, asfords np more nourishment to the soul than wind or ashes, Isa. xliv. 20. ** He seedeth of ashes." "\ Ashes are that light, and dry mat"ter, into which sewel is reduced by the site;" thesewel, before it was burnt, had nothing in it fit for nourishment; or if the sip or juice, that was in it, might in any respect be useful that way, yet all that is devoured, and licked up by the fire, and not the least nutriment left in the ashes? And such are all earthly things to the foul of man: "1 am the bread of lise," saith Christ. A soul can seed, and seast itself upon Christ, and the promises; these are things full of marrow and satness, substantial, and proper soul-nutriment.
2. fts earthly things are no way suitable to the soul, so neither are they durable. The apostle reduceth all earthly things to three heads, '.' the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the *' prideof lise," 1 John ii. 16. he calls them all by the name of that which gives the lustre, and beauty to them, and pronounceth them all sading, transitory vanities, they all pass away: as time, so these things that are measured by time, are in sluxu continua, always going, and at last will be all gone. Now the soul being of an immortal nature, and these'things of a perishing nature; it must necessarily, and unavoidably follow, that the soul must over-live them all; and if it will do so, what a dismal case are those souls in, for whom no other provision is made, but that on which it cannot subsist whilst it hath them, no more than the body can upon ashes or wind? and if it could, yet they will shortly sail it, and pass away for ever. So then it is beyond debate, that there lies a plain necessity upon every man to make provision, in time, of things more suitable, and durable than earthly treasures are, or the soul must perish, as to its comfort, to all eternity.
Hence is that weighty counsel of him that came to save them,
% Cinh est crctffwr ilia materia in quern tombustum redigitnr. Vol. HI. I i i
Luke xii. 23. " Provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a "treasure in heaven, that faileth not," si. e.) a happiness which wili tall as long as your fouls last. Certainly, the moth eaten things ot this world are no provision for immortal spirits, and yet multitudes think of no other provision for them, but live as it they had nothing to do in this world but to get an estate.
Alas! what are all these things to the loul? They signify somewhat, indeed, to the body, and that but for a little time; for, after the resurrection, the bodies of the saints become spiritual in qualities, and no more need these material things, than the angels do: It is madness, therefore, to be so intent upon cares for the body, as to neglect the foul; but to ruin the soul, and drown it in perdition, for the fake of these provisions for the #esh, i£ the height of madness.
Inser. 8. If the joul he so invaluably precious, then it is a rational, and -well advised resolution, and pratlice, to expofe all other things to hazard, yea, to certain loss, for the preservation es the more precious soul.
It is better our bodies, and all their comfors, should perish, than that our souls should perish for their fakes. Nature teaches os to ofser a hand, or arm, to the stock of a sword, to save a blow from the head, or put by a thrust at the heart. It is recorded, to the praise of those three worthies, Dan. iii. 2$, "That they yielded their bodies, that they might not serve, nor •' worship any God, except their own God" By this rule, all the martyrs of Christ governed themselves, still flighting, and exposing to destruction, their bodies, and estates, to preserve their souls, reckoning to save nothing, by religion, bat their souls, and that they had lost nothing, if they could save them; "They loved not their lives unto the death," Rev. ;»ii. 11.
Then do we live like Christians, when the care of our bodies is swallowed up, and subdued by that of our souls, and all creature-loves by the love of Christ. Those blessed souls hated their own bodies, and counted them their enemies, when they would draw them from Christ, and his truths, and plunge their souls into guilt and danger. This was the result of all their debates with the flesh, in the hour of temptation; cannot we live but to the dishonour of Christ, and the ruin of our own souls, by sinful compliance against our consciences; then welcome the worst of deaths, rather than such a lise.
Look into the stories of the martyrs, and you (hall find this was the rule they still governed themselves by;.a dungeon, a stake, a gibbet, any thing, rather than guilt upon the inuex