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and the stars be darkened, and all the comforts and joys of life be Aed and gone.
Be not deceived, O man, whosoever thou art; for God is not mocked. He will not be put off by us with the days in which we ourselves have no pleasure. Offer up thyfelf a living sacrifice, and not a carcase, if thou wouldit be accepted. Do not provoke and affront the living God, by offering up to him faint spirits, and feeble hands, and dim eyes, and a dead heart. He hath been bountiful to us, in giving us the best blellings of life, and all things richly to enjoy; and do we grudge him the most valuable part of our lives, and the years which we ourselves have pleasure in? Do we thus requite the Lord? foolish people and unwise! Is the giver of all good things unworthy to receive from us any thing that is good ? If we offer up the lame in facrifice, is it not evil ? and if we offer up the blind, is it not evil ? Offer it now to thy governor, and try if he will be pleased with thee, and accept thy person. Háth God deserved so ill at our hands, that we should forget and neglect him ? and hath the devil deserved so well of us, that we should be contented to spend the best part of our lives in his fervice, which is perfect slavery? Was he oar creator, or can he make us happy? nay, does he not carry on a most malicious design, to make us for ever miserable ?
2. Let me urge those who have neglected this first and best opportunity of their lives, to repent quickly, and return to a better mind, lest all opportunity of doing it be lost for ever, and their cafe become desperate and past remedy. Resolve to redeem, if it be poflible, the tinie which you should have improved. You have fquandered away too much already, waste no more of this precious opportunity of life. You have deferred a necessary work too long, delay it no longer. Do not delude yourselves with vain hopes, that this work may be done at any time, and in an instant; and that if you can but fashion your last breath into, Lord, have mercy upon me, this will prevail with God, and make atonement for the long course of a wicked and sinful life. What strange thoughts have men of God and heaven, what extravagant conceits of the little evil of fin, and the great easiness of repentance, that can impofe upon themselves at this rate?
Bethink yourfelves better in time; confider, and shew yourselves men. What will you do in the day of your distress, who have neglected God in your
most flourishing and prosperous condition ? what will you say to him in a dying hour, who scarce ever had one serious thought of him all your life? Can you have the face at that time to be peak him in this manner :
now the world and my lusts have left me, and I feel “ myself ready to sink into eternal perdition, I lay hold
upon thy mercy, to deliver my soul from going down “ into the pit. I have heard strange things of thy good“ ness, and that thou art merciful even to a miracle. “ This is that which I always trusted to, that, af
ter a long life of fin and vanity, thou wouldst at last “ be pacified with a few penitent words and fighs at “ the hour of death. Let me not, I pray thee, de dis
appointed of this hope, and put to confusion ? " Is this an address fit to be made to a wise
much less to the all-wise and just judge of the world? And yet this seems to be the plain interpretation of the late and forced application of a great and habitual finner to almighty God in his last extremity, and when he is just giving up the ghost; and going to appear before his dreadful tribunal.
I say again, let no man deceive you with vain words, or with vain hopes, or with false notions of a slight and sudden repentance; as if heaven were an hospital, foundcd on purpose to receive all fick and maimed perfons ; that when they can live no longer to the lusts of the flesh, and the sinful pleasures of this world, can but put up a cold and formal petition, to be admitted there.
No, no: as sure as God is true, they shall never fee the kingdom of God, who, instead of seeking it in the first place, make it their last refuge and retreat; and, when they find themselves under the sentence of death and damnation, only to avoid present execution, and since there is no other remedy, do at last bethink themfelves of getting to heaven, and fall upon their knees to petition the great judge of the world, that they may be transported thither.
Can any man in reason expect that such a petition will be granted ? I tell you nay; but except you repent sooner, and at a fitter time, and after a better fashion, you Thall certainly perish. As much as God desires the salvation of men, he will not prostitute heaven, and set the gates of it wide open to those who only fly to it in extremity, but never fought it in good earnest, nor indeed do now care for it or desire it for any other reason, but to excuse them from going to hell. They have no value for heaven, because they are in no ways fit for it; but yet they think hell to be the worse place of the two.
The ever blessed God is himself abundantly sufficient for his own happiness, and does not need our company to make any addition to it: nor yet is heaven so desolate a place, or so utterly void of inhabitants, that, like some newly discovered plantation, it should be glad to receive the most vile and profligate persons, the scum and refuse of mankind. There are an innumerable company of glorious angels, much nobler creatures than the best of men, to people those blessed regions : Thousands of thousands continually stand before God, and ten thousand times ten thousand minister unto him.
We do absolutely stand in need of God to make us happy; but he hath no need of us to help him to be so. God indeed is so good, as to desire our happiness as earnestly as if it were necessary to his own : but he is happy in and from himself; and without him it is impoflible we should be happy; nay, we must of necessity be for ever miserable.
To conclude: If we would have God to accept us in a dying hour, and our blessed Saviour to remember us, now he is in his kingdom, let us think of him betimes, and acquaint ourselves with him ; that we may be at peace, now, before the evil days come, and the years when we shall say, we have no pleasure in them.
O that men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! Which God of his infinite goodness grant that we may all seriously lay to heart, in this our day; and may learn betimes to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom ; for his mercies fake in Jesus Christ. To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
An ANSWER to the treatise of Mr. I. S.
intitled, Sure footing, &c.
To my honoured and learned friend Dr. STILE
read over your book, which I find in every part answer. able to its title, viz. A rational account of the grounds of the Protestant religion. And now I thank you for it, not only as a private favour, but a publick benefit. No fooner had I perused it, but I met with a discourse, intitled, Sure footing in Christianity. And although I have no small prejudice
against books with conceited titles, yet I was tempted to look into this, because it pretended to contain animadversions on "Some paráges in your book which I had o lately read over. Upon perusal of which animadversions, I found, that the author of them had attacked and in his own opinion confutet) a page or two in your book. This drew me on to take a view of his main discourses; which, because they are in great vogue among fome of his own party, and do, with an unusual kind of confidence and oftentation, pretend to the newest and most exact fashion of writing controversy, as being all along demonstrative, and built upon self-evident principles; therefore I resolved thoroughly to examine them, that I might discover, if I could, upon what so firm and solid foundations this high and mighty confidence was built
But, before I had entered upon this undertaking, I met with a letter from the author of Sure footing to his anfwerer, directing him how he ought to demean himself in
his answer. In which letter, though there be many things liable to great exception ; yet, because I am unwilling to be diverted
from the main question, I shall not argue with him about any of those matters; only take leave to use the fame liberty in managing my answer, which he hath assumed to himself in prescribing laws to me about it: therefore, without taking any further notice of his letter, I address myself to his book.
P A R T I.
The explication and state of the question:
SECT. I. The explication of the terms of the question. $1.THE question he propounds to himself to
debate, is, What is the rule of faith?" In order to the resolution whereof, he
endeavours, First, To fix the true notion of these two terms, rule, and faith: which way of proceeding I cannot but allow to be very proper and reasonable; but I can by no means think his explication of those terms to be sufficient. He tells us, that " a rule is that which is able to regulate
or guide him that useth it.” In which description, as in many other passages of his book, he is plainly guilty of that which he taxeth in Mr. Whitby, P: 180.; that is, the confounding of a rule and a guide, by making regulating and guiding to be equivalent words. But for this I am no further concerned, than to take notice of it by the way. The fault which I find in this definition, is, that it doth not make the thing plainer than it was before ; so that no man is the wiser for it, nor one jot nearer knowing what a rule is. He pretends to tell Englishınen what a rule is; and, for their clearer understanding of this word, he explains it by a word less removed from the Latin, “A rule is that which is able to
regulate him that useth it:" just as if a man should go about to explain what a lawgiver is, by saying, “ He “ is one that hath the power of legislation,” Of the two he had much better have said, that “ a rule is a