صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

out his money, and whether he consider, how to please God in it, as he can tell, where his estate is, and whether it be in money or land. So that here is no plea left for ignorance or frailty ; as to this matter, every body is in the light, and every body has power. No one can fail, but he, that is not so much a christian, as to intend to please God in the use of his estate.

You see two persons; one is regular in publick and private prayer, the other is not. Now the reason of this difference is not this, that one has strength and power to observe prayer, and the other has not ; but the reason is, that one intends to please God in the duties of devotion, and the other has no intention about it. The case is the same in the right or wrong use of our time and money You see one person throwing away his time in sleep and idle. ness, in visiting and diversions, and his money in the most vain and unreasonable expenses. You see another, careful of every day, dividing his hours by rules of reason and religion, and spend, ing his money in works of charity. Now the difference is not owing to this, that one has strength and power to do thus, and the other has not ; but it is owing to this, that one in: tends to please God in the right use of his time

and his money, and the other has no intention about it.

Here therefore let us judge ourselves sincerely. Let us not vainly content ourselves with the common disorders of our lives, the vanity of our expenses, the folly of our diversions, the pride of our habits, the idleness of our lives, and the wasting of our time, fancying that these are such imperfections as we fall into, through the unavoidable weakness and frailty of our nature ; but let us be assured, that these disorders of our common life are owing to this, that we have not so much christianity, as to intend to please God in all the actions of our life, as the best and happiest thing in the world. So that we must not look upon ourselves in a state of common and pardonable imperfection, but in such a state, as wants the first and most fundamental principle of christianity, namely, an intention to please God in all our actions.

If any one were to ask himself, how it comes to pass, that there are any degrees of, sobriety, which he neglects; any practices of humility, which he wants; any method of charity, which he does not follow ; any rules of redeeming time, which he does not observe ; his own heart will tell him, that it is, because he never

intended to be so exact in those duties. For whenever we fully intend it, it is as possible to conform to all this regularity of life, as it is possible for a man to observe times of prayer.

So that the fault does not lie here, that we desire to be good and perfect, but, through the weakness of our natures, fall short of it ; but it is, because we have not piety enough to intend to be as good as we can, or to please God in all the actions of our life. This, we see, is plainly the case of him, that spends his time in sports, when he should be at church ; it is not his want of power, but his want of intention, or desire, to be there.

The case is plainly the same in every other folly of human life. She, that spends her time and money in the unreasonable ways and fashions of the world, does not do so, because she wants power to be wise and religious in the management of her time and money; but because she has no intention nor desire of being so. When she feels this intention, she will find it as possible to act up to it, as to be strictly sober and chaste, because it is her care and desire to

be so.

This doctrine does not suppose, that we have on need of divine grace, nor that it is in our own

power to make ourselves perfect. It only supposes, that, through the want of a sincere intention of pleasing God in all our actions, we fall into such irregularities of life, as by the ordinary means of grace we should have power to avoid; and that we have not that perfection, which our present state of grace makes us capable of, because we do not so much as intend to have it.

It only teaches us, that the reason, why you see no real mortification, nor self-denial, no eminent charity, no profound humility, no heavenly affection, no true contempt of the world, no christian meekness, no sincere zeal, no eminent piety, in the common lives of men, is this, be. cause they do not so much as intend to be ex. act and exemplary in these virtues.

CHAP. III.

.

of the great danger and folly of remissness in duty.

ALTHOUGH the goodness of God and his rich mercies in Christ Jesus are a sufficient assurance to us, that he will be merciful to our unavoidable weaknesses, that is, to such failings,

as are the effects of ignorance or surprise ; yet® we have no reason to expect the same mercy towards those sins, which we have lived in, through a want of intention to avoid them.

The salvation of our souls is set forth in scripture as a thing of difficulty, that requires all our diligence, that is to be worked out with fear and trembling

We are told, that, 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be, that find it ;' that many are called, but few are chosen ;' and that many will miss of their salvation, who seem to have taken some pains to obtain it. As in these words, 'Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.'

Here our blessed Lord commands us to strive to enter in ; because many will fail, who only seek to enter. By which we are plainly taught, that religion is a state of labour and striving, and that many will fail of salvation; not because they took no pains nor care about it, but because they did not take pains and care enough ; they only sought, but did not strive to enter in.

Every christian therefore should as well ex

« السابقةمتابعة »