Page images
PDF
EPUB

eye is upon him. Christians should consider God's eye is always upon them; in praying, in hearing, and in every duty that they perform; yea, in every action of their whole lives. And, if the eye of a master, that is but a fellow-creature, nay but a fellowservant, can have such awe and influence upon his servant as to make him careful how he works and what he works, and to make him diligent in his work; should not the consideration of God's eye being upon us, who stands at an infinite distance from us, much more cause a holy fear and diligence in us, in doing what our Lord and Master commands us ?

(2) Fear God also, as Him, from whom you have all your Power and Ability to work. · Fear him, lest, at any time, through any neglect or miscarriage of yours, He should be provoked to suspend his influence and withdraw his grace from you, and to leave you to your own weakness and impotency, upon whose influence all your obedience doth depend. This is the Apostle's argument in the text: Work....with fear....for God worketh in you, both to will and to do. Holy diligence in obedience cannot be more strongly enforced on an ingenuous spirit, than by considering that all that strength and ability, which we have to work, is received from God; and therefore should be improved for God, lest, for our sloth, he deprive us of that which we make no use of.

(3) In working, fear God also, as him, that will be the Judge and Rewarder of your works for ever.

You perform them into Him, who is to pass sentence upon them, and upon you for them : and will you then dare to do them slothfully and negligently? God will try every man's work with fire, and will call every action to a severe and strict account. Every man's work shall be seen through and through: and then it shall be known, who hath wrought the works of God, and who hath fulfilled the will of Satan; and the final doom and irreversible sentence shall then be pronounced according to men's works. God will, says the Apostle, render to every man according to his works: To them, who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory....and immortality, to them he will render eternal life : But unto them, that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, he will render unto them indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul...that doeth evil : Rom. ii. 6, 7, 8, 9. Would you but thus fear God as an upright and impartial judge, that will render unto every one according to his works, how would this prevail with

you, so to work, that, at last, you might be found of God in well doing, and receive the blessed reward and sentence of the diligent and faithful servant, to enter into your Master's joy!

DIRECTION iv. If you would work for salvation successfully, then WORK SPEEDILY, WITHOUT DELAY; AND CONSTANTLY, WITHOUT CESSATION.

1. Work Speedily, without delay.

Delays, in all affairs, are dangerous; but, in soul affairs, usually they are damnable. For,

(1) The longer you procrastinate and delay, the greater and more difficult will your work be at last.

Corruption will be grown more tough : ill humours will be grown more stubborn : your heart will be more hardened: your affections, being more habituated, will be more firmly engaged to sin : the Devil will plead right to you, by prescription; and it is hard keeping an enemy out, that hath had long possession.

(2) Consider what a desperate folly it is, to put off your work till to-inorrow: you are not sure that you shall live to see another day.

And oh! what hazards do those men run, whose hopes of heaven depend upon no better a bottom, than their hopes of life; and whose eternal salvation is subject to as many casualties and accidents, as their present beings in this world are subject to! Man's breath is in his nostrils : and, yet, how do men suffer their souls and their everlasting happiness to depend upon nothing surer than their breath; that breath that every moment goes forth from them, and they know not whether ever it shall return to them again?

But, suppose your life and days should continue; and you , should reach unto that time, whereof you have boasted, and wherein you have promised to mind the concernments of your soul's eternal happiness; yet, consider, (3) The grace of God is not at your disposal. And then, either,

[1] The Outward Call may cease, or it may grow more faint and low. You may not be so daily importuned and solicited for heaven, as now you are. Ordinances and opportunities may cease; or you, for your contempt may, be given over to a contempt and neglect of them.

VOL. III.

[2] The Inward Dictates of your own Consciences and the Motions of the Holy Spirit may cease. Conscience may be bribed to silence : and the Holy Ghost may be commissionated to depart after this present opportunity; and never more may you have its breathings and movings upon your hearts, if you do not now listen to them.

[3] If inward motions do continue, are you sure, after this moment's refusal, that you shall obtain that Grace from God, that may make you willing to close with those motions? Leave, not, therefore, the eternal salvation of your precious and immortal souls at such hazards and delays. Now is the acceptable time..... now is the day of salvation : To-day, therefore, if ye will hear his voice, even while it is called To-day, harden not your hearts; for this is the only time and season for working.

2. As you must work speedily, without delay; so you must work Constantly, without cessation or intermission.

To stand still, is to backslide; and to cease working, is to undo and unravel what you have wrought. You are not like men, that row in a still water; who, though they slack their course, yet find themselves in the same station: but you are to go against tide and stream ; the tide of your own corruptions, and the stream of other men's actions and examples. And the least intermission, here, will be to your loss: hereby you will be carried, far down the tide ; yea, and much pains and labour will scarce suffice to regain what a little sloth hath lost.

So much for this text.
The Lord make what hath been spoken profitable! Amen.

THE

ASSURANCE OF HEAVEN AND SALVATION,

- POWERFUL MOTIVE

TO

SERVE GOD WITH FEAR.

HEB. xii, 28, 29.

WHEREFORE WE RECEIVING A KINGDOM WHICH CANNOT BE MOVED, LET US HAVE GRACE, WHEREBY WE MAY SERVE GOD ACCEPTABLY, WITH REVERENCE AND GODLY FEAR: FOR OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.

INTRODUCTION.

1 his text contains in it a Doctrine, a Use, and a Motive. The Doctrine is, We have received a kingdom which

cannot be moved. The Use or Inference from thence is this: Therefore,

let us serve God. And the Motive, to enforce this exhortation, is in these

words, for our God is a consuming fire. First. In the first part, which is the Thesis or Position, We have received a kingdom which cannot be moved, we must know, there is a Twofold Kingdom: a Kingdom of Grace, set up in the heart of a saint, where Christ alone reigns as sole monarch and sovereign; and a Kingdom of Glory, prepared for us in the highest heavens, where we shall reign as kings with Christ for ever,

If we take it in the former sense, for the Kingdom of Grace, so the Apostle saith, we have a kingdom, that is, we have it already in possession. Christ hath established his dominion over every believer: and, though he sits personally upon his throne in heaven; yet he rules in us by the vicegerency and deputation of his Spirit that received commission from him, and also by the law of his Word enacted by it.

If we understand it in the latter sense, for the Kingdom of Glory, which seems most congruous to the design of the Apostle, so, also, we have a kingdom, and that in a Fourfold sense.

By Grace, giving us the earnest of it.
By Faith, realizing it.
By Hope, embracing it. And,

By the Promises, assuring of it.
First. We have a Kingdom of Glory, in the Earnest and
First-Fruits of it.

The comforts and graces of the Spirit are very often, in Scripture, called the earnest of our inheritance : so you have it in 2 Cor. i. 22. and in Eph. i. 14. An earnest, you know, is always part of the bargain : so God, to assure us that he is in earnest when he promiseth heaven and glory to us, hath already given us part of it in the graces of his Spirit. Grace and glory are one and the same thing, in a different print, in a smaller and a greater letter : 'here, we have heaven in seminal inchoation; hereafter, we shall have it in consummate perfection: glory lies couched and compacted in grace, as the beauty of a flower lies couched and eclipsed in the seed: therefore the Psalmist saith, Psalm xcvii. 11. That Light is sown for the righteous : that is, the light of joy and of a future life are in the graces of God's children as in their seed, and they shall certainly bud and sprout forth into perfect happiness.

Secondly. We have a Kingdom of Glory, because Faith realizeth things future, and giveth an existence and being to things that are not..

This is that grace to which nothing is past nor nothing fu. ture. It contracts all things into present time, and makes all actually existent. It draws things, that are at a great distance from it, near to itself: and thus the Galatians' faith represented the death of Christ so visibly to them, that the Apostle told them, he was crucified among them: Gal. iii. d. It dives down into the gulf of future times, and fetcheth up things that as yet are

« PreviousContinue »