|« Prev||Chapter V. Directions for Those Who Desire to…||Next »|
Directions for those who desire to make light of Christ no more.
HAVING endeavoured to convince you of the Evil and Danger of this Sin, I now come to know what you are resolved, upon. What says Conscience? Will you set as light by Christ and Salvation, as you have formerly been doing? Are you resolved still to persist in the same sinful Course? I hope not. O let not your Ministers, who would fain save you, be brought Witnesses against you to condemn you. At least, I beseech you, put not this upon me. If the Lord than say to us at Judgment, “Did you never tell these Men what Christ hath done and suffered for their Souls, and their own need of him, and how nearly it concerned them to regard their own Salvation, and not make light of it?” We must then say, “Yes, Lord, we told them of it as plainly as we could. We would have done it upon our Knees to them, if we had thought thereby to have prevailed. We intreated them as earnestly as we could to consider these Things. They heard of these Things every Day; but alas, we could never fasten them on their Hearts! They gave us the Hearing, but they made light of all that we could say to them.” How wretched will your Condition be, if you force us to such an Answer as this!39
Perhaps you may be secretly hoping that you are not in the Number of those who make light of Christ. And for fear you should deceive yourselves with false Hopes, let me excite your Caution and Jealousy by mentioning some of those Things on which false Hopes are commonly founded. As for Instance;—You may have a notional and speculative Knowledge of Christ, and of the Necessity of his Blood, and of the Excellency of Salvation; and yet may perish as Neglecters of Christ. This is too common amongst professing Christians.—-You may say all that other Men do of Christ. Even Balaam could utter some Evangelical Truths. A Devil could say, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; for the Devils also believe and tremble.—You may weep at the History of Christ’s Sufferings, when you read how he was abused by the Jews and the Romans; and yet you may make light of him, and perish for doing so.—You may have a Desire after the Word, and Ordinances of Christ. Herod heard the Word gladly; and so do many, who must nevertheless perish as Neglecters of Salvation.—You may have a longing after Christ to ease your present Distress, and to save you from the Wrath of God; and yet you may perish for making light of Christ.—You may do many Things in Obedience to Christ, so as to consist with your worldly Schemes and Interests, and may escape much of the Pollutions of the World thro’ the Knowledge of Christ; and yet may neglect him.—You may part with much of the World for Christ, as Ananias and Sapphira did. Many will lose some of their Profits and Pleasures in Hope of Salvation, who shall perish everlastingly, because they had no more Value for Salvation.—You may be esteemed and admired by others on Account of 40your Zeal for Christ: and yet perish for making light of him.—You may verily think of yourselves, that you prefer Christ and Salvation before every Thing else, and yet you may be mistaken, and may be judged Despisers of Christ. For Christ does not justify all them, who justify themselves.—You may zealously preach Christ and Salvation, and reprove others for their Neglect, and lament this Sin in the greatest Part of the World, as I am often doing; and yet if you or I have no better Evidence to prove our sincere Esteem .for Christ and Salvation, we are utterly undone.
But that your Hopes in a Matter of such infinite Importance may not deceive you, there are two Things which are absolutely necessary to be found in you. One Thing is this,—Your Esteem for Christ and Salvation must be greater than for all the Honours, Profits, or Pleasures of this World; or else you slight him. No les than this will be accounted sincere, or be accepted to your Salvation. Think not this hard, when there is no Comparison between the Things in Question. To esteem the greatest Glory on Earth, before Christ and everlasting Glory, is a greater Folly in itself, and a greater Injury to Christ, than to esteem a Dog before your Prince would be either foolish, or unjust. If any Man come to me, says our Lord, and hate not his Father, and Mother, and Wife, and Children, and Brethren, and Sisters, yea, and his own Life also, he cannot be my Disciple.—You must likewise manifest this Esteem for Christ and Salvation in your daily Endeavours, by your seeking after Christ, and parting with any Thing that he shall require of you. God is a Spirit, and will not take an hypocritical Profession, instead of the Heart and spiritual Service which he 41commands. He will have the Heart, or Nothing; and even the chief Room in the Heart.—If, after considering these two Things, you still say, that you do not make light of Christ, or will do no more, let me farther try you in a few Particulars, whether you really mean as you say, and do not dissemble.
1. Will you for the Time to come make Christ and Salvation the chief Matter of your Care and Study? Thrust them not out of your Thoughts, as a needless or unprofitable Subject; nor allow them only some slight and transient Thoughts, which will not affect you. Will you make it your Business, at least once a Day, when you are alone, to think seriously, what Christ has done for you; or what he will do, if you do not make light of it; what it is to be everlastingly happy or miserable; what all Things in this World are in Comparison of your everlasting Salvation, how soon they will leave you, and what you will then think of them? Will you resolve to withdraw yourselves frequently from the World, and set yourselves to such Considerations as these? If you will not, are you not Slighters of Christ and Salvation, who will not be persuaded to think on them seriously?
2. Will you for the Time to come set a higher Value on the Word of God, which is the Discovery and Charter of your Salvation, and your Guide to it? You cannot esteem Christ, without esteeming his Word. Whoso despiseth the Word, shall be destroyed. Will you therefore attend to the publick Preaching of the Word? Will you daily read it? Will you resolve to obey it whatever it may cost you? If you will not do this, but will make light of the Word of God, you will be judged to have made light of Christ and Salvation, whatever you may fondly promise yourselves.42
3. Will you for the Time to come set a higher Value on Christ’s Ministers, whom he has appointed to guide you to Salvation? And will you make Use of them for that End? Alas! it is not enough to speak well of your Ministers, and duly contribute to their Maintenance. They are to be as Physicians under Christ, to apply his Remedies to your spiritual Diseases, both in publick and in private; that you may go to them, for their Instructions and Advices, their Exhortations and Prayers. Will you go to them in private, and solicit their Help? And if you have not such near you as are rightly disposed to help you, will you go to such as are, and ask them, What you shall do to be saved, and how you shall prepare for Death and Judgment? Will you obey the Word of God in their Mouths? If you will not inquire of those that should teach you, nor use the Means Christ has appointed for your Help, your own Consciences shall one day witness against you, that you made light of Christ and Salvation. If you doubt whether it be your Duty thus to ask Counsel of your Ministers, as sick Men do of their Physicians, let your own Necessities and the express Declarations of the Word of God resolve you. The Priest’s Lips should keep Knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his Mouth; for he is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts.
4. Will you for the Time to come make Conscience of daily fervent Prayer to God, that you may have a Part in Christ and Salvation? Do not go out of Doors in the Morning, nor lie down to Rest at Night, till you have first breathed out these Desires to God. Say not, “God knows my Necessities without praying so often.” For tho’ he does, yet be will have you to know and feel them, and have 43 your Desires and all the Graces of his Spirit exercised in Prayer. It is he that commands you to pray without ceasing. Christ himself spent whole Nights in Prayer, and encourages us always to pray, and not to faint. And if you will not be persuaded to this, how can you say that you do not make light of Christ and Salvation?
5. Will you for the Time to come cast away your known Sins at the Command of Christ? If you have been proud or contentious, malicious and revengeful, be so no more. If you have been Adulterers, or Swearers, or Drunkards, be so no more. You cannot esteem Christ and Salvation, while any known Sin is cherished. What say you? Are you resolved to part with every Sin? If not, when you know it is the Will of Christ, and he has told you that such shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, are not you making light of him?
6. Will you for the Time to come serve God in the most expensive as well as the cheapest Part of his Service? Will you do it not only with your Tongues, but with your Estates, and all your Abilities? Shall the Poor find that you value Christ more than all the World? Pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the Fatherless and Widows in their Affliction, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the World. Will you resolve to cleave to Christ, and make Salvation sure, tho’ it cost you all you have in the World? If you think these Terms are too dear, you make light of Christ, and will be judged accordingly.
7. Will you for the Time to come value every Thing that tends to your Salvation, and use every Help that God offers you? Attend upon the Word, Sacraments and Prayer; instruct Children and Servants 44in the Knowledge of Christ; sanctify the Lord’s Day; get into good Company, who set their Faces Heaven-ward; and take Heed of the Company of the Vain, the Voluptuous; the Scornful, or any that would hinder you in your sacred Work? Will you do these Things; or by neglecting them shew, that you are Slighters of Christ?
. 8. Will you do all these Particulars, not as your Toil, but as your Pleasure and Delight? Will you account it your highest Honour, to be the Disciples of Christ, to be admitted to serve and worship him, and to rejoice with holy Confidence in the Sufficiency of his Sacrifice; by which you may have Pardon of all Sin, and a Right to the Inheritance of the Saints in Light? If you will do these Things sincerely, you will shew your real Value for Christ and Salvation.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord, I have now done what I proposed on this weighty Subject; and what Effect it will have upon any Heart I know not; nor is it in my Power to accomplish what my Soul earnestly desires. Were it the Lord’s Will that I might have my Wish, the Words you have been reading should so impress you, as to awaken you out of your Security, and prevent your perishing with those, who make light of Christ and Salvation. O that I could make every Man’s Conscience a faithful Preacher to himself, that being ever present with you it might prevail! O that the next Time you go prayerless to Bed, or into your Business, Conscience might cry out, “Have you no more value for Christ and Salvation!” O that the next Time you are tempted to think hardly of a holy Life, I will not say, to scoff at it as more than is needful, Conscience might loudly say, “Dare not to make light of Christ and Salvation!” O that the next Time you 45are ready to rush upon any known Sin, and to gratify corrupt Inclination against the Command of God, Conscience might earnestly ask you, “Is Christ and Salvation of no more Worth, than to cast them away for every vile Lust!” O that when you are following the World with your most eager Desires, and forgetting an eternal World, and the awful Change which is so near, Conscience might remind you of the infinite Worth of Christ and Salvation! And that when you are next spending the Lord’s Day in idleness, or in vain Amusements, Conscience might faithfully tell you what you are doing! In a Word, that in all your Neglects of Duty, and in all your cold and formal Prayers and religious Services, Conscience might tell you how unsuitable such Endeavours are to an eternal Reward, and that Christ and Salvation should not be so slighted! I will say no more but this, That it is most lamentable, when God has provided a Saviour for the World, when Christ has suffered so much for Sin, made such a compleat Atonement to Divine Justice, and purchased so glorious a Kingdom for his Saints; and when all this is ao freely offered to Sinners, to lost, undeserving, and Hell deserving Sinners; so many Millions should nevertheless perish everlastingly, because they make light of their Saviour and Salvation, and prefer this vain World and their own abominable Lusts! I have delivered my Message; may the Lord open many a Heart to receive it! I have endeavour’d to persuade with the Words of Truth and Soberness ; may the Lord persuade more effectually, or all I have said is in vain.
F I N I S.
|« Prev||Chapter V. Directions for Those Who Desire to…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version