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Considerations to reform those, who make light of Christ.
FAIN would I have this damning Distemper cured, if it be the. Will of the Lord; and therefore I am very unwilling to leave you, Sinners, in such a desperate Condition; did I but know how to remedy it. I will now add some Considerations, which may move you to look better about you. If you are Men of Reason and Understanding, I beseech you weigh them, and make a faithful Use of them: lay open your Hearts to the Work of Grace, and seriously survey the dismal Case you are in, if you are really such as make light of Christ.
1. Consider you make light of him, who did not make light of you, tho’ you deserved to be so treated by him. You were worthy of Nothing but Contempt. As Men, what are you but Worms to God? As Sinners you are far more vile than Toads. Yet Christ was so far from making light of you, and of your Happiness, that he humbled himself to put on mortal Flesh, lived a Life of Suffering, and offered himself a Sacrifice to the Justice which you had provoked, that your miserable Souls might have a Remedy. No less hath he shewed to us than Miracles of Love and Mercy, and yet shall we slight them? Angels, whom they less concern, desire 30 to look into them; and shall redeemed Sinners make light of them? What more than devilish Ingratitude is this? The Devils never had a Saviour offered to them, but you have; and do you yet make light of him
2. Consider, the Work of Man’s Salvation by Jesus Christ is the Master-Piece of all the Works of God, in which he designs his Love and Mercy to be magnified, as his Wisdom and Power were in Creation. For this Reason the Name of Jesus is Wonderful. Greater Love could none shew than this. How great was the Evil and Misery from which he delivered us and the Good he procured for us? All are Wonders, from his Birth to his Ascension. And from our new Birth to our Entrance into our Masters Joy, All are Wonders of matchless Mercy. And do you make light of them?
3. Confider, the Things you make light of are the most excellent and of the highest Importance. You slight you know not what. Had you well known, you could not have done it. If thou hadst known the Gift of God, and who it is that speaks to thee, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living Water; as our Lord argued with the Woman of Samaria. Had the Princes of this World known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. So had you known what Christ is, you would not have made light of him. Had you but seen what they possess in Heaven, and also what Miseries they endure who are shut out, you would never afterwards have made so light of Christ. O Sirs! the Gospel treats not of Things trifling, or to be jested with. I profess to you, when I have the most serious Thoughts of those Things, I am ready to wonder the Souls of Men are not overwhelmed 31with them; that the Greatness of the Subject does not even drive Men besides themselves; and especially, that Men should be so stupid, as to make light of them. O Lord, that Men did but know what everlasting Glory, and everlasting Torments are! Would they then hear, and read, and think of these Things as they do? Could they forbear crying out in the Congregation, or rest till they have gone to their Minister, and learned what they should do to be saved, that this great Business might be put out of Doubt? Amazing, that an everlasting Heaven and Hell should work no more on Men! How can you forbear thinking, when you are alone, what it is to be everlastingly in Joy or Torment ? Why do not such Thoughts break your Sleep, and interrupt you in the Midst of your Labours? How can you have any Peace in your Minds? How can you eat, or drink, or sleep, till you have got some Ground of everlasting Consolations? Is that a Man, or a Corps, that is not affected with these momentous Things? That can sleep, rather than tremble, when he hears how he must stand at the Bar of God? That can follow his worldly Business, and make Nothing of the Business of Salvation or Damnation, even tho’ he knows it is near at Hand?—Truly I wonder at the very best of God’s Saints upon Earth, that they are no better, and do no more in so weighty an Affair. I wonder at those, whom the World accounts more holy than needs; and despises for making too much ado; that they do so little for Christ and their Souls; that they pour not out their Souls in every Supplication; that they are not more taken up with God and that their Thoughts are not more serious in Preparation for their last Account. I wonder they are not a hundred Times more strict in their Lives, and more laborious and unwearied in 32 their striving for the Crown.—As for myself, I am ashamed of my dull and careless Heart, of my slow and unprofitable Course of Life, and of every Sermon I preach, to think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and how much the Salvation or Damnation of Men is concerned in it. I am ready to tremble, lest God should judge me as a Slighter of his Word; and of the Souls of Men, and lest in the best Sermon I should be guilty of their Blood. Methinks we should not speak a Word to Men, in Matters of such Consequence, without Tears, or without the greaten possible Earnestness; and we do not so, because we are too much guilty of the Sin which we reprove.
5. Confider who it is that sends this weighty Message to you. Is it not God himself? Shall the God of Heaven speak, and Men make light of it? You would not slight the Voice of an Angel or a Prince.
Confider whose Salvation you make light of. Is it not your own? Are you no more near or dear to yourselves, than to make light of your own Happiness or Misery? Are you in no Care whether you shall be saved or damned? Is Self Love lost? Are you turned your own Enemies? As he that slights his Food, slights his Life; so if you slight Christ, whatsoever you may think, you will find it was your own Salvation that you slighted. It is Christ who says, All they that hate me, love Death.
6. Confider how it aggravates your Sin in making light of the Gospel, that you profess to believe it. It is no Wonder a professed Infidel should make light of it, who neither believes that Christ ever died, or rose again, or that there is a Heaven or Hell. But you inexcusable, who make it your Creed and and Religion, call yourselves Christians, have been baptised 33into into this Faith, and seem to stand to it. What! believe that you shall live in endless joy or Torment, and yet make so light of escaping Torment, and obtaining Joy! What! believe that God will shortly judge you, and yet treat Preparation for it with Indifference! Either say plainly, “I am no Christian. I do not believe these wonderful Things. I will believe Nothing but what I see.” Or else let your Hearts be affected with your Belief, and live as you say you believe, when you repeat the Creed, and mention Christ’s Coming to Judgment, and the Life everlasting.
7. Confider what those Things are which you prefer before Christ and Salvation. Have you found a better Friend, or a greater and surer Happiness? Good God! What Dung is all that Men make so much of, while they let light by eternal Blessedness? What Joys are they daily taken up with, while Matters of Life and Death are neglected? Had you every One a Kingdom in your Hopes, what were it, compared with an everlasting Kingdom? What is all the Glory and Dignity of this World, all its Lands and Lordships, its Crowns and Kingdoms, but like some poor Creature, that borrows fine Cloths, and mimicks the Part of a King on a Stage, and after a few Minutes comes down, and is stript of all his Finery? Were it not for God’s Interest in the Authority of Magistrates, and the Service they might do him, all their Glory is but a Vapour. Death levels all. What Difference is there at Judgment, between your having been a rich Man or a poor Man; a Dives or a Lazarus? O that Men knew what a fleeting Shadow they catch at, while they neglect the everlasting Substance? The most powerful, rich, and prosperous Sinners only lay in Fuel for their Sorrows, while they are fancying it 34will will be a Treasure of Enjoyments. Alas, they are dreaming of Happiness, and when they awake, what a Change will they find! Their Crown is made of Thorns. Their Joy has such a Sting, as will pierce their Heart thro’ all Eternity, except unfeigned Repentance prevent. O how sadly will these Wretches be convinced e’er long, what a foolish Bargain they made, in selling Christ and Salvation for these Trifles! Let your Farms and Merchandize then save you, if they can; and do that for you which Christ would have done. Cry then to your Baal to save you.
8. Consider that to set light by Christ and Salvation is a certain Sign you have no Part in them. If you continue to do so, Christ will set as light by you. Them that honour him, he will honour; and they that despise him, shall be lightly esteemed. You will feel one Day, that you cannot live without him. You will then confess your Need of him. And then you may look for a Saviour where you will, for he will be no Saviour to you, who refused to value him, and submit to him, while he was offered to you. Then who will be the Loser by your Contempt? O what will it be for a poor miserable Soul to cry to Christ for Help in the Day of Extremity, and to hear him say, “Thou didst set light by me in the Day of thy Prosperity, and I will now set as light by thee in thy Adversity. Because I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my Hand, and no Man regarded; But you have set at Nought all my Counsel, and would none of my Reproof; I also will laugh at your Calamity, I will mock when your Fear cometh, when your Fear cometh as Desolation, and your Destruction cometh as a Whirlwind; when Distress and Anguish come upon you. Then shall you call upon 35on me, but I will not answer; you shall seek me early, but you shall not find me. For you hated Knowledge; and did not chuse the Fear of the Lord. You would none of my Counsel, you despised all my Reproof. Therefore shall you eat of the Fruit of your own Way, and be filled with your own Devices. You that, as Esau, for one Morsel of Meat sold your Birthright, shall then find no Place for Repentance, tho’ you seek it carefully with Tears.” Do you think that Christ shed his Blood to save them who continue to make light of it, and that prefer their Lusts before his Salvation? Tho’ you set so light by Christ and Salvation, God does not do so. He values the Blood of his Son, and everlasting Glory, and will make you value them, if ever you have them. All the World cannot save him who sets light by Christ. And can you find Fault for being denied what you yourselves made light of, and for missing the Salvation which you slighted?
9. Consider, the Time is near when Christ and Salvation will no more be made light of, as they now are.. When God hath shaken your careless Soul out of your Body, and you must answer for all your Sins in your own Name; O then, what would you give for a Saviour! When a Thousand Bills shall be brought against you, and not one to relieve you, you will then reflect, “Now would Christ have stood between me and the Wrath of God! Had Is not despised him, he would have answered every Demand!” When you see the World hath left you, your Companions in Sin have deceived both themselves and you, and that all your merry Days are fled away; then, what would you give for the Christ and Salvation, which you now account not worth your Labour? When you shall see the Judgment-Day, 36and yourselves doomed to everlasting Perdition for your Wickedness, do you think you shall then make as light of Christ, as you do now? Why will you not judge now, as you know you shall judge then? Will Christ then be worth ten Thousand Worlds, and is he not now worth your highest Esteem, and your best Affections!
10. Consider, God will not only deny you the Salvation you made light of, but he will take from you all that which you preferred before it. He that loves Christ in Sincerity, shall with him have all Things, so far as here they will be for his good; and have Christ hereafter, when earthly Enjoyments shall have lost all their Value. He that esteems any Thing here more than Christ, shall have his Comforts on Earth imbittered to him, and be left comfortless for ever and ever.
And what think you now? Does it not appear by these Considerations to be a heinous Sin to make light of Christ and Salvation? Ought you not to be careful lest this should prove your own wretched Condition? God knows it is too common. Whoever is found guilty at last of this Sin, good were it for that Man if he had never been born. He had better have been a Turk or a Savage, that never heard the Name of a Saviour, nor ever had the Offer of Salvation. Christ, whom you make light of, must be your Judge, and for this Sin will he judge you. And as Christ himself asks, how can you escape the Damnation of Hell? Or, as the Apostle asks, how shall you escape if you neglect so great Salvation? Can you escape without a Christ; or will a despised Christ then save you ? If he be cursed that setteth light by his Father, or his Mother; what then is he that setteth light by Christ? It is 37among the aggravated Sins of Jerusalem, that in her were those who set light by Father and Mother, but how much more aggravated to set light by the Father of Spirits? In the Name of God I beseech you to consider, how you will bear his final Displeasure, whom you now make light of. You that cannot make light of a little Sickness, or Want, or even of a Tooth-Ach, but groan as if you were undone; how can you make light of the Fury of the Lord, which will burn against the Contemners of his Grace? Is it not absolutely necessary to think of these Things before it be for ever too late?38
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