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and counsels, contrived the method of their redemption. It i» astoniihing to consider the admirable harmony and glorious triumph of all the divine attributes, in this great project of heaven, for the recovery of lost souls: It is the " wonder of "angels," 1 Pet. i. 12. the " great mystery of godliness," 1 Tim. iii. 16. the matter and subject of the triumphant song of redeemed saints, Rev. i. 5. and well it may, when we conGder a more noble species of creatures finally lost, and no Mediator of reconciliation appointed betwixt God and them: this is to save an earthen pitcher, whilst the vessel of gold is let fall, and Do hand is stretched out to save it.
But what is most astonishing, is, that so great a person, as the Son of God, should come himself, from the Father's bosom, to save us, by putting himself into our room and stead, being made a curse for us, Gal. iii. 13. He leaves the bosom of his Father, and all the ineffable delights of heaven, disrobes himself of his glory, and is fpund in fashion as a man, yea, becomes a worm, aud no man; submits to the lowest step and degree of abasement, to save lost sinners. What a low stoop doth Christ make, in his humiliation, to catch the souls of poor sinners out of hell! Herein was love, that God lent his own Son, "to be ** the propitiation for our sins," 1 John iv. 10. "and so God "loved the world," John iii. 16i at this rate he was content to save lost sinners.
How seasonable was this work of mercy, both in its general exhibition to the world, in the incarnation of Christ, and in its particular application of it to the soul of every lost sinner, by the Spirit! Whenxhe was first exhibited to the world, be found them all lost sheep gone astray, every one turning to his own way, Isa. liii. 6. be speaks of our lost estate by nature, both collectively, or in general: "we all went astray:" and distributives, or in particular, "Every one turned to his own way;" and in the fulness of time, a Saviour appeared.
And how seasonable was it, in its particular application? How securely were we wandering onwards, in the paths of destruction, searing no danger, when he graciously opened aiur eyes by conviction, and pulled us back by heart turning-grace! No mercy like this; it is an astooishipg act of grace, that stands alone.
Inser. 5. If there be so many ways to hell, and so Jew that ejeape it, how are all concerned to si rive, to the .utmost, in order to their own salvation?
In Luke xiii. 23. a certain person proposed a curions question to Christ; "Lord, are there sew that be saved?" He saw a multitude slocking to Christ, and thronging with great zeal ty hear him; and he could not conceive but heaven must fill, proportionably to the numbers he saw iu the way thither. But Christ's answer, ver. 24. at once rebukes the curiosity of the questions, fuily reiblves the question propounded, and sets home his own duty and greatest concernment upon him. It rebukes his curiosity, and is, as if he should soy, Be the number of the laved more or less, what is that to thee i Strive thou to be one of them. It fully solves the question propounded, by distinguishing those that attend upon the means of salvation, into ieekers, and strivers. In the first respect ihere are many, who by a cheap and easy prosession, seek heaven; but take them under the notion of strivers, i. e. persons^heartily engaged in religion, and who make it their business, and so they will shrink up into a small number; and he presseth home his great bustness, and concern upon him, Strive to enter in at the jiraitgate.
By gate understand whatsoever is introductive to blessedness and salvation: by the epithet jirait, understand the difficulties and severities attending religion; all that sufsering and self-denial, which those that are bound for heaven should reckon upon, and expect: and by striving, understand the diligent and constant use of all those means and duties, how hard, irksome, and costly soever they are. The word dymi'tjTS-t hath a deep sense and emphasis, and imports striving, even to an agony; and this duty is enforced two ways upon him, and every man else: First, by the indisputable sovereignty of Christ, from .whom the command comes; and also from the deep interest and concern every soul hath in the commanded duty. It is not only a simple compliance with the will of God, but what also involves our own salvation and eternal happiness in it: our great duty, and our great interest are twisted together in this command; your eternal happiness depends upon the success of it. A man is not crowned, except he strive lawfully, i. e. successfully and prevalently. O therefore, so run, so strive, that ye may obtain! if you have any value for your souls, if you would not be miserable to eternity, strive, strive! Believe it, you would find that the assurance of salvation drops not down from heaven in a night-dream, as the Turks sable their Alcoran to have done in that lailato banzili, night of demission, as they call itno, no; the righteous themselves are scarcely saved: many seek, but sew find. Strive, therefore, as men and women that are heartily concerned for their own salvation; sit not, with folded arms, like so many heaps of stupidity and ijoth, whilst the door of hope is yet open, and such a sweet
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voice from heaven calls to you, faying, Strive, fouls, strive, ifever you expect to oe partakers of the blessedness that is here to: be enjoyed; shrive, to the utmost ot yout abilities and opportunities. Such an heaven is worth striving to obtain, such an bell is worth striving to escape, such an invaluable soul is worth striving to save.
I consess, heaven is not the purchase or reward of your striving: no foul (hall boastingly fay there, Is not this the glory which my duties and diligence purchased for me? and yet, on ♦he other side, it U as true, that without striving you shall never set foot there. Say not, it depends upon the pleasure of Godi and not upon your diligence; for it is his declared willsod pleasure, to bring men to glory in the way, though not for the fHke of their own striving. As in the works of yoar civil calling, you know all the care, toil, and sweat of ftie. husbandman, avails nothing of itself, except the fun and rain quicken and ripen the fruits of the earth; and yet no wiseman will neglect ploughing and harrowing, sowing and weeding, because these labours avail not, without the influences of heaven, but waits for them in the way of his duty and diligence. Rational hope sets all the world to worki Do they plough in hope, and low in hope, and will you not pray in hope, and hear in hope? Yon that know your fouls to be hitherto stran~ gers to Christ and the regenerating work of the Spirit; hosv isit, that you take them not aside, sometimes, out of the distracting noise, and hurries of the world, and thus bemoan them?
'O my poor, graceless, christless, miserable foul, how fad a '- case art thou in! Others have, but thou never seltest the burden 'of sin; thousands in the world are striving and labouring, *. searching and praying, to make their calling and election sure;
* whilst thou fittest still with folded hands, in a supine regard*-'
* lesfoessof the misery that is hastening upon thee. Canst thoa 'endure the devouring wrath of God? Canst thou dwell with
* everlasting burnings? Haft thou fancied a tolerable hell t 'Or, is it easy to perish? Why dost thou not cast thyself at
* the seet of Christ, and cry, as long as breath will last, Lord, 'pity a fistful, miserable, undone, and self-condemning soul?
* Lord, smite this rocky heart, subdue this stubborn will, heal and" 'save an undoue soul ready to perish: The characters of death 'are upon it, it must be changed or condemned, and that in a
* little time. Bowels of pity, hear the cry of a foul distressed, 'and ready to perish.'
And you thaJ do not understand the case, and state your soulsarc in, have you never a bible near you I O turn to those ^1ace9, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. where you will presenly find the taofle -obvious marks, aud characters, God hath set upon the children of perdition; and if you find not yourself in that catalogue, among the unrighteous, foruicators, idolaters, adulterers, efseminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, isc. then turn to John iii. 3. and solemnly ask thy own soul this question, Am I born again? Am 1 anew creature, or still in the same condition 1 was born in? What solid evidence, of the new birth, have 1 to rely upon, If 1 were now within a sew gasps of death? Am not I the man, or woman, who lives in the very same fins which the word of God makes the symptoms and characters of damnation? And doth not my conscience witness against rne, that I am utterly void find destitute of all that saving grace, and a mere stranger to the regenerating work of the Spirit, without which there can be no well- bottom'd hope of salvation i And if so, are not the tojtens ^ of death upon me? Am not I a person marked out for misery? And shall 1 sit still in a state of lo much danger, and not once strive to make an escape from the wrath to come? Is this vile body worth so^nuch toil and labour to support and preserve it s And is not my soul worth as much care and diligence to secure it from the everlasting wrath of the great, just, and terrible Cod? O that the consideration of the wrath to come, the multitudes all the world over preparing as fuel for it, and the door of opportunity yet held open to souls by tile hand of grace td escape that wrath, might prevail with thy heart, reader, to strive, and that to the uttermost, to secure thy precious soul from the impending ruin.
Eph. v. 16.—Redeeming the time (or opportunity) because the days are evil.
HTIME is deservedly reckoned among the most precious met* *. cies of this lise; and that which makes it so valuabl e are the commodious seasons and opportunities for salvation which are vouchsased to us therein: opportunity is the golden spot o? time, the sweet and beautiful flower, growing upon the stalk of time *. If time be a ring of gold, opportunity is the rich diamond that gives it both its value and glory. The apostle well knew the value of time; and seeing how prodigally it was wast
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ed by the most, doth therefore in this place, earnestly press all men to redeem, save, and improve it with the utmost diligence. In this, and the former verse, we have,
1st, The duty injoined, Walk circumspectly.
idly, The injunction explained;
1. More generally, Not as fools, but as -wife.
1. More particularly, Redeeming the time.
3. The exhortation strongly inforced with a powerful motives Because the days are evil. ,
Among thele particulars, my discourse is principally concerned about the redemption of time, or opportunities, which in this lise, are graciously vouchsased us, in order to that which is to come: And here it will be needful to inquire,
1. 'What the apostle means by time. a. What by the redemption of time.
ij. Time is taken more largely or strictly according to the double acceptation of the Hebrew word HJ? which signifies sometimes time, and sometimes occasion, season, or opportunity, and accordingly is exprest by xP',ef aod *«'?•», tempus and tempestivitas: the latter is the word here used, and denotes the commodiousoeIs and fitness of (ome parts of time above others, for the successful and prosperous management and accomplishment of our main and great business here, which is to secure our interest in Christ, and glorify God in a course of fruitful obedience. For these great and weighty purposes our time is graciously lengthened out, and many fit opportunities presented us in the revolutions thereof.
2. By the redemption of time -f, we must understand the study, care, and diligence of Christians, at the rate of all possible pains, at the expence of all earthly pleasures, ease and gratifications of the flesh, to rescue their precious seasons, both of salvation and service, out of the hands of temptations, which so commonly rob unwary souls of them. Satan trucks with us for our time, as we did at first with the filly Indians for their gold and diamonds, who were content to exchange them for glass-beads and tinsel-toys. Many fair seasons are forced, or cheated out of our hands, by the importunity of earthly cares, or deceitfulness of sensual pleasures: at the expence and loss of these, we must redeem and rescue our time for higher and better uses and purposes. We must spend these hours in prayer, meditation, searching our hearts, mortifying our lusts; which others do, and our flesh fain would spend in sensual pleasures, and gratifications of