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Considerations to awaken those who make light of Christ.
THE Office God hath called me unto, is, by declaring the Glory of his Grace, to help under Christ to the saving of Men’s Souls. I hope, my dear Readers, you think I am now engaged on no other Errand. The Lord knows I had not set Pen to Paper, but in Hope to succeed in this Work for your Souls. I have considered, and often considered, why so many Thousands should perish, when God hath done so much for their Salvation; and I find that which is mentioned in my Text, is the Cause. It is one of the Wonders of the World, that when God hath so loved the World as to give his Son, and Christ hath made a Satisfaction by his Death sufficient for all, and offereth the Benefits of it so freely to all, even without Money, and without Price, that nevertheless most of the World, should perish; yea, most of those that are thus called by his Word. Here is the Reason; when Christ hath done all this; Men make light of it. God hath shewed that he is not unwilling, and Christ hath shewed that he is not unwilling, that Men should be restored to divine Favour, and be saved; but Men are themselves actually unwilling. God hath no Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked, but that the Wicked turn from his Way and live. But Men take such Pleasure in Sin, that they will die before they will turn. 22The Lord Jesus was content to be their Physician, and hath provided them a sufficient Remedy, even his own Blood; but if Men make light of it, and will not apply it, what Wonder if they perish after all? It is a most lamentable Thing to see how most Men spend their Care, their Time, their Pains for known Vanities, while God and Glory are cast aside! That he who is All, should seem to them as Nothing; and that which is Nothing, should seem to them as good as All! That God should set Mankind in such a Race, where Heaven or Hell is their certain End, and that they should sit down, and loiter, or run after the childish Toys of this World; and so much forget the Prize they should run for! Were it but possible for one of us to see the whole of this Business, as the All-feeing God does; to see at one View both Heaven and Hell, to which Men are so near, and see what most Men in the World are minding, and what they are doing every Day, it would be the saddest Sight that could be imagined. O how should we wonder at their Madness, and mourn over their Self-Delusion! O poor distracted World! What is it that you run after? And what is it that you neglect? If God had never told them what they were sent into the World to do, or whither they were going, or what was before them in another World, then they had been cxcuseable; but he hath told them over and over, till they are weary of it. Had he left it doubtful, there had been some Excuse; but it is his sealed Word, and they profess to believe it, and would take it ill of us if we should question whether they do believe it or not.
I accuse not any particular Persons of this Crime; but seeing, it is Abe most common Cause of Men’s 23Destruction, I suppose you will judge it the fittest Matter for our Enquiry, and that the Cure of it deserves our greatest Care. Now it is the Case of most Sinners to think themselves freest from those Sins to which they are most enslaved. And one Reason why we cannot reform them, is, because we cannot convince them of their Guilt. It is the Nature of Sin so far to blind and stupify the Sinner, that he knows not what he does, but thinks he is free from it, when it reigns in him, or when he is committing it. It brings Men to be so much unacquainted with themselves, that they know not what they think, what they mean and intend, nor what they love or hate, much, less what they are disposed or habituated to. They are alive to Sin, and dead to all the Reason, Consideration, and Resolution that should recover them; as if it were only by their Sinning that we must know they are alive. May I hope that you who now read, are but willing to know the Truth of your Case, and then I shall be encouraged to proceed to an Enquiry. God will judge impartially. And why should not we do so? Let me therefore by these following Questions try whether you are not Slighters of Christ and your own Salvation. And follow me, I beseech you, by putting them close to your own Hearts, and faithfully answering them.
1. Things that Men highly value, will be remembered, and will be the Matter of their freest and sweetest Thoughts. Do not those then make light of Christ and Salvation, who think of them so seldom and coldly, in Comparison with other Things? Follow thy own Heart, Man, and observe what it daily runs out after; and then judge whether it makes light of Christ. We cannot persuade Men to one Hour’s sober Consideration what they 24should do for an Interest in Christ, or in Thankfulness for his Love, and yet they will not believe that they make light of him.
2. Things that we highly value, will be Matter of our Discourse. The Judgment and Heart will command the Tongue. Freely and delightfully will our Speech run after them. Do not those then make light of Christ and Salvation, that shun the Mention of his Name, unless it be in a vain or sinful Manner? And those that love not the Company where Christ and Salvation are much talked of, but think it .troublesome, and had rather hear some merry Jests, or idle Tales or talk of their worldly Affairs? If from Morning to Night they scarce speak a serious Word of Christ, judge whether they do not make light of him. O how earnestly do they talk of the World, and speak Vanity; but how heartlessly of Christ and Salvation!
3. The Things we highly value, we desire to secure to ourselves, and therefore do any Thing requisite to put them out of all Doubt and Fear. Do not those then make light of Christ and Salvation, who :have lived twenty or thirty Years in Uncertainty about their Interest in them, and never seek to have their Doubts resolved? Are you certain you shall be saved? O that you were! If you had not made light of Salvation; you could not have rested till you had made it sure, or done your best to make it so. Is there none to enquire of, to help you in such a Work? You have Ministers appointed to that Office; have you gone to them, and told them the Doubtfulness of your Case, and intreated their Help in judging of your Condition? Alas, Ministers may sit in their Studies from Year to Year, before ten Persons in a Thousand come to them on such 25an Errand! And do not the Generality therefore make light of Christ?
4. The ‘Things we value, deeply affect us, and our Hearts will be moved according to our Esteem for them. If Men did not make light of spiritual and eternal Things, how would their Hearts work, when they hear or read of them?What strong Affections, what Melting of Heart, what Sorrow for Sin, what Astonishment in the View of their Misery, what Joy at the Tidings of Salvation by Christ, what Resolution on the Discovery of their Duty, would they be conscious to? What should we have, if it were not for this Sin? Whereas now we are more likely to weary them, fill them with Disgust, or lull them asleep, with Things of this unspeakable Importance: By their Carelessness, one would imagine they were not the Persons spoken to.
5. Our Estimation of Things will appear in our diligent Endeavours. What we most value, we shall think no Pains too great to obtain. Do not those then make light of Christ and Salvation, who think any Thing too much which they do for Christ, who murmur at his Service; and think it grievous, and say, “This is more than needs?” For the World, they will labour all the Day, and all their Lives; but for Christ and Salvation, they are afraid of doing too much. Let us preach to them ever so long, we cannot bring them to relish and resolve upon a Life of Holiness. In their Houses, you shall not hear them read a Chapter, or pray with their Families once a Day; nor will they allow God one Day in Seven, as he requires; but Pleasure, or worldly Business, or Idleness must have a Part. Many of 26them are even so far hardened, as to reproach all who will not be as mad as themselves. And is not Christ worth seeking? Is not everlasting Salvation worth more than all our Diligence in Duty? Let common Sense judge, if that Soul makes not light of Christ and Salvation, who prefers his Ease before them.
6. That which we most highly value, we think we cannot buy too dear. Christ and Salvation are freely given, and yet most Men go without them, because they cannot enjoy them and the present World together. They are only called to part with that which would hinder them from Christ, and they will not do it. They are called only to give God his own; and to reign all to his Will; and to forsake the Pleasures and Profits of this World, when they must either part with Christ or them; and they will not. They think this too dear a Bargain, and plead, “We cannot spare these Things. We must look to our Estates. We must keep up our Credit with Men; how else shall we live? We must have our Pleasure, whatever becomes of Christ and Salvation.” As if they were afraid of being Losers by Christ, or thought a Man would be profited, if he should gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul. Christ has solemnly declared, that whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be his Disciple. Far are those Men from forsaking all for Christ, and yet they would have it thought that they are his Disciples indeed.
7. That which Men highly esteem, they are desirous to help their Friends to, as well as themselves. .And do not these Men make light of Christ and Salvation, who can take so much Care to leave 27 their Children Portions on Earth, but do so little to help them to Heaven? Who provide outward Necessaries for their Families, but do Nothing for saving their Souls? Their neglected Children and Friends will testify, that Christ was made light of, or the Souls of Children and Friends would have been tenderly and faithfully regarded.
8. That which Men highly esteem, they will manifest by their successfully pursuing, if it be attainable. You may see how many make light of Christ, by the little Knowledge they have of him, and their little Communion with him, and their having no Graces communicated from him. Alas, how many Ministers can speak it with Sorrow of Heart, that many of their People know almost Nothing of Christ, tho’ they hear of him daily! They know not what they must do to be saved! And if we ask them an Account of these Things, they answer as if they understood not what we say, and tell us they are no Scholars, and therefore think their Ignorance will excuse them. If such Persons had not made light of Christ and Salvation, but had bestowed half as much Pains to know and enjoy the Lord, as they have done to understand their Trades and Affairs in the World, they would not have been so ignorant as they are. When Men in a few Years have learned a difficult Trade; but, perhaps in twenty or thirty, have not learned any easy Catechism, or the Meaning of their Creed, nor will bear to be examined about such Things; does not this shew that they have slighted them in their Hearts? How will these Despisers of Christ be able in the great Day to look him in the Face, and give an Account of these Neglects!28
After having suggested these Things for your Conviction, do not some of your Consciences by this Time smite you, and say, “I am the Man who have made light of my Salvation?” If Conscience does not say so, it is because you still make light of it, notwithstanding all that has been said to you.29
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