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would you chuse? If God (replied (he) Ihould refer it to me, I would even refer it back again to him. It becomes thee, O man, to be entirely resigned to the will of thy Master, and to stand like a centinel in thy station, ready to move as thy great general and commander shall give orders concerning thee. It would be pleasant and acceptable to God, to see thee more delirous to be delivered from sin than from fickness. O, but sin is a far worse disease than any fickness in the world ! Beg importunately, that the great Physician may cure this woful soul-disease, and let him do with the body what he pleaseth. This was David's practice in his affliction, Psal. xxv. 18. “ Look upon my affli&ion and my pain, and forgive all my sins." As for his pains and afflictions, he asks no more but that God would regard them, and look upon them, and do with them as he thought fit; but, as for his fins, no less will satisfy him than a pardon, and blotting them entirely out, so as they might be remembered no more.
Direct. V. Bind yourself with holy purposes and
resolutiorj in Christ's strength, to be more watchful against Gin, more diligent in duty, and to improve the time of health better, if God Thall be pleased to restore it again to you.
WHEN God is visiting your iniquities with rods, and
Hackness in duty, he expects that you will return from your backslidings, and let about a serious reformation and change of life, Hof. v. 15. “ I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and feek my face ; in their affliction they will seek me early."
answer God's call and expectation, and in his strength resolve to enter upon a new life. « Surely now it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more. That which I see not, teach thou me: If I have done iniquity, I will do so no more."
Job xxxiv. 31, 32. Now is the season, you should say with Ephraim, Hof. xiv. 8. “ What have I to do any more with idols ?"
Having duly examined yourselves, and searched out your sins, you ought to put a bill of divorce into each of their hands. Deliberately resolve against all your fins, whether secret or open ; and especially resolve against your darling and beloved sins, those fins which do moft easily beset you. Resolve also against all temptations to fin; and, particularly, against the snares of bad company, whereby you have been formerly enticed ; now say with David, Pf. cxix. 115. “ Depart from me, ye evil.doers; for I will keep the commandments of my God." You must not only purpose to forsake all fin, but also mind every known duty; that you will make religion your one thing needful; the pleasing of God, the chief business of your life; that you will set the Lord alway before you, give him your heart in all duties, aim at nearness and communion with God in every one of them; and still press forward to the full. enjoyment of God in heaven through eternity.
Resolve also, through grace, that you will, in a special manner, mind secret duties, which the eyes of men do not observe, and those duties which conscience doth most challenge you for neglecting. And you that are heads of families, resolve to make more conscience of familyreligion, of worshipping God with your families, both morning and evening; instructing your children and · servants in the knowledge of Christ; and recommend. ing religion and godliness to all round about you, whe. ther relations or strangers.,
And, if you would have your resolutions effectual, see that they be accompanied with a deep sense of your insufficiency to perform them in your own strength.' Dear always in mind the corruption and deceitfulness of your own heart, and make all your resolutions in a humble dependence on the sufhciency of Jesus Christ your surety. Observe the apostle Paul's advice to his son Timothy, 2 Tim. ii. 1. « Be strong in the grace that is in jdius Christ. All your stock, o believer, is in his hand, so that without him you can do nothing;
but, through Christ strengthening you, thou art able to do all things.
Direct. VI. Set your house in order, by making
your latter-wills, and settling your domestic and fecular affairs, while you have freedom and capa. city for doing it.
AFTER the heart is set in order, the next work is to set your house in order, according to God's counsel to Hezekiah, Ifa. xxxviii. 1. It is recorded of the Pa. triarch Abraham, that he was careful to settle the affairs of his family before his death, Gen. xxv. 5,6. He disposed of his estate to Isaac, and legacies to the fons of his concubines. It is too general a fault, that men delay and put off making their wills, as they do their repentance, to the very last, and so too frequently never, make them at all. Consider the evil of deferring or ne-, glecting this neceflary affair; for if you, upon whom God hath bestowed means, should die intestate, your estate may descend otherwise than you intended; much of it may be spent in tedious and expensive law-suits ; such differences may fall out among relations, that should live in friendship and mutual affection, as cannot be healed; some of them may be reduced to extreme want, when a small legacy might have put them in a way of living ; and many such inconveniences' may follow, Well, then, if your neglect should bring on these evils, and involve posterity into endless strifes and contentions, may you not justly fear that the guilt thereof will purfue you into another world, whose wretched carelessness was the occafion of all that mischief?
Pray, what is the reason that men put off this affair ? Is it not because they do not incline to think so feriously on death, as this will occasion them to do? Doth not this smell of abominable earthly-mindedness, speak as if a man desired all his portion in this life, and cared not for a better? and that he is so far from preparing for death, that he cannot endure to think of it? 'Alas, that
Marply affiliated with Sickness and long Trouble.
Direct, I. Justify God in the greatest Afric
tions which befal you. THOUGH God should condemn you, fee that you
I acquit him, and say, he is righteous in all his dealings. When the church was under the heaviest distress, she finds cause to justify God, Lam. i. 18. “ The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled againft his commandment." So doth godly Nehemiah, Neh. ix. 33. • Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us: for thou haft done rigbt, but we have done wickedly.". The same doth holy David acknowledge,
Psal. cxix. 75. “ I know, O Lord, that thy judgments V are right, and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted
me.” Now, in order to bring you to this agreeable frame, and to convince you of the equity and justice of God, in his dispensations, however heavy and long your distress be, I thall lay before you the following conce brations :
1. Confider the infinitely hely and righteous nature of that God who smiteth thee, Pfal.cxix. 137. “ Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments." We presume it of a righteous man that he will do righteous things; and shall we not much more believe so of a holy and righteous God? We cannot be infallibly certain that a righteous man will always do so : For a righteous man may leave his righteousness, because the creature is mutable; but God is immutably righteous; so that we may be confident of it, that the judge of all the earth will do right, for it is impossible he can do 0therwise, Zech. iii. 5. “ The juft Lord is in the midst thereof, he will not do iniquity." He will not, he can. not; for it is contray to his nature.
2 Consider that God never brings on any aft:&tion without a cause, i Cor. xi. 30. “ For this cause many are Gck." He hath ftill just ground for the heaviest afo, fliction, from thy sins and provocations; and may always say to thee, as to Israel, Jer. ii 17; 19. “ Halt thou not procured this unto thyseif, in that thou hart forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backfliding shall reprove thee: know, therefore, and fee, that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast for. saken the Lord.” There is still ground enough for af. diction to be fou::d in the beit of God's people; and “. .. therefore it is said, Lam. iii. 33. “ For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." No; it is our fins that oblige him to it. As Christ whipped the sellers' of oxen and sheep out of the temple with a whip (as is generally thought) made of their own cords; fo God never scourgeth us but with a whip made of our own lins, Prov. v 22. “ His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his fins.” If we congder the mighty God as a Lord dispensing grace, then we find he acts sovereignly, and according to his will and pleasure, Mat xi. 26. “ Even fo Father, for so it seemed good in thy light." But if we consider him as a judge, dispensing judgments," he never doth it without a foregoing cause on the creature's part. God's treasure of mercy is always full, and ready to be let out to them that seek it; but his treasure of wrath is empty till men fill it up by their sins, Rom. ii. 15. “ Thou treasureft up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath :" We always do provide fuel for God's wrath, before it kindle and break out upon us.
3. Consider further this instance of God's equity; that when there is a cause given, God doth not preient!y take it, but continues to threaten often and warn long, before he executes the sentence of his word. He fends Jeffer strokes as warnings of greater, if we repent not ; and he repeats his warnings many times, both by his word and providence, before he smite. Yea, even when repeated warnings are Nighted, he delays a long time, and waits to be gracious, Isa. Xxx. 18. And when men's obftinacy and incorrigibleness arrive to such a height,