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your felves, with hardners and blindness of heart, and whether this Judgment be not more frequent than the World is aware of, and whether you do not participate of that Judgment? Hear this, all ye that carry Rational, Angelical Souls in your Breasts, Connder your ways. Consider what enslaving your Souls to vicious affections will come to, and whether they will not thrive better, being irradiated with Heavenly Light, than warmed by Hellish Lusts; and whether it will not be more for your credit to advance them to their primitive lustre and beauty, than lose them by sin and vanity. Sirs, you stand upon the brink of a bottomless pit; who but a Man, whose brains are crack'd, would not look about himself The least push or thrust sends you thither ; Who would not take some pains to get into a Harbour : The Ship is ready to be cast away, the Mafts are split, it's leaking on every side; who would not lay hold of a plank to save himself from drowning ? If you know not what to do with that power of Consideration God hath given you, marvel not if God takes it away ; and since you will not bethink your felves how to be freed from sin and misery, protests in his anger, that you shall not be able to make use of that power any more, in order to obtain Eternal Life; since you will not take up that Sword of the Spirit, to cut the Cords of Sin and Disobedience, no wonder if God blunts and dulls the edge of it, that it shall be of no use to you, when you would employ it. O Christians, there is no jesting with a merciful God; where the greatest mercy is scorned Dd
and rejected, What can ye expect but the feverest Judgments Be wise therefore, before the black Decree be irreversibly Signed and Sealed against you; you'll bless the hour and the day which bears the Date of your entire and sincere agreement to God's Will in this particular ; and when you shall find, by blessed experience, that this serious Consideration of your ways is the Gate to Paradise,you'll admire the Bounty, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, that moved your hearts to embrace the motion, and you will not be able to forbear breaking out into singing the Song of Moses, and the Song of the Lamb, Blessing, Honour, and Glory be unto Him that sts upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
CHA P. VIII.
Of Retirement and Prayer, the two great helps to Con
fideration. Retirement proved to be necessary to make Confideration of our Spiritual state more quick and lively. Prayer calls in the assistance of God's Spirit, and renders the work effettual. A Form of Prayer to be used upon this occasion.
Will Charitably suppose, that the preceding
Exhortation may have made some impression upon my Reader, and made him in some measure, willing to think more of his Soul, and of the danger it is in, and of his Eternal State, than formerly he used to do; and therefore to shew him how this Confideration must be managed,
that it may in truth conquer and subdue his inorninate affections, and make them subject to the best of Masters, I shall lay down some necessary help to Consideration, and these are, to mention no more, Retirement and Prayer.
I. Retirement. Though I readily grant, (and do commend it too ) that Men, as they are walking with others, or travelling, or going abroad about their necessary occasion, or standing in their Shops, or other Rooms, where company goes in and out, may think, that the course they have taken hitherto is not safe, and therefore it's high time to change and alter it: Yet seeing those thoughts are too much diverted by sensual objects, and apt to go no farther than the mind or understanding, and reach no deeper than speculation; it must necessarily follow, that Retirement is requisite, to make it reach the affections, and to spread it as far as the Life and Convresation.
By Retirement, I do not inean absconding, or hiding ones self in a corner in the Country, or in a Wilderness, but retiring in our own Houses. Let the place we live in be never so populous, to be sure we have Chambers to be private in; and as the Rich may make their best Room a Desart for this work, so the Poorest may convert any corner in their Houses into a place for this Exercise ; it's not the neatness of a Closet that cleanseth the Soul from filthiness, nor the curiosity and convenience of a With-drawingroom, that fits the heart for him that made it ; but as Christ made sometimes a Mountain, someDd2
times a Ship, sometimes a Cross, his Pulpit ; fo a Man may make a Meadow, a Field, a Wood, a Garret, any corner of his House, a place fit to retire in, to consider seriously how the case stands between God and his own Soul. I know what Men do commonly object, the very fame thing they object against Consideration it self, and where. of we have sufficiently spoke in the second Impe. diment, viz. That they have a great deal of business, and that they can spare no time for this Retirement. Business, no doubt, must be done, But there is a time for every thing, and a season for every purpose under Heaven, and then sure there must be a time for this Spiritual Retirement too; if there be not, we are obliged to find time for it: He that cannot, or rather will not, had as good say, he hath no time to be saved; and he that cannot sometimes neglect the concerns of his Body, or Estate, for the concerns of his better part, derides Salvation, and does not believe, that there is such a thing, or if there be, that it is of so much value, as the Dirt and Dung he grovels in. It's true Manasses retirement was forced, much &gainst his will, yet still it was privacy that contributed much to his amendment ; for while he was encompassed with his Courtiers and Flatterers, and his fawning Crew, he thought Religion a thing below him, and a New Creature but a canting term; but being alone, rone but God and his calamity about him, having nothing to take off his thoughts from reflecting on his Apostacy, behold how Consideration melts him, his Conscience sets upon him, makes him ashamed of his
unfaithfulness to his God, makes the Tears stand in his Eyes ; and so great is his change, that he who had exceeded the Nations round about him in Idolatry, and lewdness, immediately takes away all the strange Gods, and the Idols out of the House of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built on the Mount of the House of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and call them out of the City, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord, 2 Chron. 33.15, 16.
So pleasing is this Retirement to God, that he doth exprefly call himself, Our Father which sees in secret, Matth. 6. 4. When Christ had a mind his Disciples should see his Glory, he doth not carry them to ferusalem, leads them not into the Market-place, doth not mingle them with the Multitude, bids them not attend him at Herod's Court ; for he knew, these places would rather distract, than help, their Devotion: But he summons them to go up with him into a high Mountain apart, bids them retire from fecular business, Icave their sensual affections at home, separate themselves from such Worldly employments, as were apt to take up their Minds, that their thoughts might be more at liberty to contemplate his Glory, and the Transfiguration might aff et them more, and make the deeper impressions
Come, my people enter thou into thy Chamber, and shut thy doors about thee, and hide thy self, faid