« PreviousContinue »
not expect to be admitted to the fight and enjoyment of him in heaven: but if you persist in a sinful course, and die without repentance, you shall be cast into outer darkness
, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. These things being so, God knows ye have little reason to rejoice.
And yet, God be thanked, ye have no reason to despair; for he still waits to be. gracious unto you. He hath no pleasure in the death of a finner, but bad rather that he should turn from his way, and live. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. We who are ambassadors for Chris do pray you, in Christ's stead, that ye would be reconciled unto God. Then will the apostle's admonition in the text be suitable for you.
And as you will have reason to rejoice yourselves, so you will be an occasion of rejoicing unto others. The ministers of the gospel will rejoice at your conversion ; for this is the end of all their labours : they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do
it with joy, and not with grief ; for that is unprofitable for you. All good Christians will rejoice : for the interest of their common Lord will by this means be advanced; and they themselves will be confirmed in their holy resolutions, when they see others engaging in the same course, and pursuing the same design. The inhabitants of heaven itself will rejoice: for our blessed Saviour tells us, that there is joy in heaven in the presence of the angels of God over one finner that repenteth, more than over over ninety and nine juft persons who need no repentance.
To conclude. Your repentance and conversion will terminate in your own everlasting joy. For when the son of man hall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, he will declare his approbation of you : saying, well done, ye good and faithful fervants ; ye have been faithful over a few things, 1 will make you rulers over many things; enter ye into the joy of your Lord.
HAT we should pray, is a
dictate of nature : but that T
we should do nothing else
contrary to reafon and common sense. If men must be always praying, what time would they have to mind the bufiness of their callings? and yet this is a precept of both old testament and new. Ecclef. IX. 10. Whatsoever thine band findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goeft. 2 Thes. III. 10-12. When we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should be eat: for we hear that there are some among you who walk diforderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies :
now them that are such, we command, and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ
, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. If we must always be upon our knees, what time shall we have for the refreshment of nature, by food and sleep? must we starve ourselves with devotion ? No: devotion was intended to refine and elevate the soul, but never to waste and consume the body. 'Tis a precept of scripture ; Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. If we must do nothing but pray; what room would there be for reading the scriptures, for meditation, and for hearing sermons, which are duties of religion as well as prayer itself? what room would there be for the exercise of social virtues; such as
righteousness and fidelity, mercy and charity? Prayer is rather a means of religion than a part of it. It disposes us to virtue and goodness, but it is not virtue and goodness itself. Religion is of an active nature ; and a great part of it consists in acts of justice and mercy, in the mortification of our lusts, and the government of our passions. Prayer must be acknowledged to be an excellent means to dispose us for these duties : but how absurd would it be to be always preparing for them, and never to put them in practice? Therefore, it can never be the meaning of this apostolical precept, that we should always actually be engaged in prayer to God. For to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. What is it then to pray without ceasing? I answer,
1. If we would fulfil this precept, we must always be in a disposition for prayer, maintaining a firm belief of the being and providence of God, and continually depending on him for the supply of our wants. Prayer is an acknowledgment of the divine attributes, and of the sense we have of our dependence on God: and therefore if we