Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

carfed. But it is an honourable character which the

Spirit of God puts on Mnason, Acts xxi. 16. an old dii feeple

. And old godly men are mott like God, Dan. vii. 9. Rev. i. 14: 12. It is profitable for the exercise of godliness, in fo-far as it makes them proof against many temptations which youth often carries men headlong unto, 2 Tim ü. 22. The frothiness and fire of youth dying out thro' time, their grace is the better it wants them. Young people's grace may be more bulky, but old people's grace, though of less bulk, is more worth, because it is more folid. Though new liquor may work and swell up more, the old is better. John was the longest lived of the apostles, and wrote last of them. In his younger years he could have burnt whole towns for Christ, Luke ix. 54. ; but if ye will look to his epistles written in his older days, they breathe nothing but love, and meekness, and solid gndliness. 6.38 Long life makes way for the more proofs and experiences of the goodness of God an the earth,

John ik 13. The young foldier may be more mettled and venturous; but the old soldier is more to be trusted, because of his experience and skill. It is no fmall advantage to have been an eye-witness of the several appearances God has made for his church, and of several storms that have gone byen her head... 2:43 Laftly, They bave the larger opportunity of glorifying God here, and being serviceable in their generation, the longer they live on earth ; and therefore shall have a larger measure of glory hereafter, as they have been more serviceable for God than others, 2 Cor. ix. 6. How many are cut off in their early days, while they were just budding for che honour of God and the fervice of the church. It is better for themselves, that they are foon taken away ; but the church is less the better of them, Phil. in 23. 24. The Spirit of God takes VOL.III.

н

notice of this in the old men that outlived Joshua, how useful their age was for God and his church, Joh. xxiv, 31. And Ifrael served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Jofua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Ifrael. And tho' glory is not the merit of good works, yet according to the fowing, so shall the harvest be,

Thirdly, A holy walk, particularly in the confcientious performance of relative duties, is the way to a long and prosperous life. Holiness, and particulariy relative holiness, is the way to a long and happy life in the world,

1. As to holiness in general, it is clear from two things.

(1.) From the promise of God in his life-giving word. Man lives by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The unbelieving world may think a scripture-promise but a poor fence for a man's life. Give them good entertainment, case, medicine, they will lay more weight on these than on a cluster of promises; but yet a promise from the Lord is better than all thefe, Dan. i. 15. for mian shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, Matth. iv, 4. Now it has the promise, i Tim. iv. 8. It has the promise of health, wealth, and long life, Prov. iii, 7.-10. 16.

(2.) From the nature of the thing. A holy walk keeps us back from those things that hurt and ruin the body. And no man's body is fo little abused to its hurt, as his whose soul has respect to walk within the hedge of God's precepts. Drunkenness and gluttony devours more than the sword doth, Covetous care and anxiety waftes the body. Inordinate affections are the consuming of the conftitution. Holiness, that repreffes these things, muft then be as health to the flesh, Prov. iv. 22.

2. As for dutifulness to our relatives : Consider, (1.) It hath God's .promise for it in the text,

which hath been made out to many in their sweet experience, as in the case of Ruth, and that of the Rechabites, Jer. XXXV. 19.

And fo the contrary is threatened, Prov. xxx. 17. The eye that mocketh at bis father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley fhall pick it out, and the young eagles fball eat it; and has been fulfilled in many to the full extent.

(2.) Dutifulness of that fort procures the blessing of relatives; it natively draws out their hearts in thankfulnefs to God for them, and in prayers to God for them, which under God is a mean to bring down a blessing upon them. The blessing of them that were ready to perish was not in vain to Job; it sprung up in a liberal increase.

(3.) Such perfons are of a meek disposition, and fach have a peculiar promise to inherit the rearth, Matth. v. 6. It is the want of the spirit of meekness, and pride and felfishness in the room of it, that mars relative dutifulness.

(4-) Lastly, The nature of the thing leads to it; for that is the ready way to make relations comfortable ; and the comfort that people find in their relatives does good like a medicine, while the contrary is as rottennefs in the bones,

There are two objections that lie against this doctrine,

Object. 1. Have not wicked men, that cast off all perfonal and relative holiness, oft times a long and prosperous life?

Ang. It is so indeed. Job observed it long ago, ch. xx1.7. Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, zeá, are mig bty in power? But there is one thing that makes the difference wide enough ; in é, they have it not by promise. What of that? will ye fay. There is very much in it. (1.) He cannot have the comfort of it as a godly man can have, no more then he can have the comfort of a well-furnished house, that knows not but every day he may be turned out of it, while he knows no where else to go to, in comparison of one that has a tack of it, and is to move to a better when the tack expires. (2.) There is a secret curfe in it that destroys and ruins him ; so that the morsel may be fair, but there is a bone in it that will stick in his throat, Prov. i. 32. 33. (3.) Lastly, The last dich fpoils the feast. No man can be said to live a long and happy life that dies a miserable unbappy death, as all wicked men do. Can that life be prosperous or happy that has such a black hinder end? Does not death foon catch that man that catches him ere his salvation be secured?

Object. 2. Are there not many godly people whose life in the world is neither long nor prosperous, and have neither much health, wealth, nor long life? The answer to this brings us,

Fourthly, To Thew how this promise is to be un, derstood. It is to be understood as all other temposal promises are, not absolutely, as if in no cafe it could be otherwise; but with these two limitations. (1.) As far as it shall serve for God's glary; and God may be more glorified in their early death than their long life. The honour of God is the immoveable rule by which these things must be all measured. (2.) As far as it shall serve for their good; and so it may be a greater mercy to them to be hid in the grave, than to be left on earth; and surely it is no breach of promise to give one what is better than what was promised. And these two are not to be feparated, but joined together; for whatever is most for God's honour, is most for the godly man's good. Now upon this we may lay down these conclu. fions.

1. Upon this promise the godly walking in the way of personal and relative holiness, may: confidently expect from God as much long life and profperity in the world as thall be for the honour of God, and their good to enjoy. And to have any more would be no favour.

2. A short and afflicted life may be more for their good than a long and prosperous one, Psal. cxix. 71. If. lvii. 1. And why should men quarrel with their bleflings or cast at their mercies ? Good Joliah was soon taken away, because the Lord would not have him to see the evil that was coming on.

3. Many of the children of God may be guilty of such breaches of this command in the misma. nagement of their relative duties, that they may by their own fault fall thort of the mercy promised here in the letter, Psal. xcix. 8. and so need not wonder if they reap that correction which themfelves have sowed. And though others that have managed worse than they may escape, no wonder either; for God will let that pass in another, because of an after reckoning, when he will correct his own children for less, because that is to put an end to the quarrel.

4. Lastly, Whatever they want of this, it shall be made up by what is better. The afflictions of the body shall be health to their souls; their crosses shall not be curses, but blessings ; and if they be deprived of the residue of their years here, they fall get them made up in heaven.

Secondly, The place where that blessing is to be enjoyed ; in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee; that is, the land of Canaan. So it respects the Jews, But as it respects Christians, it refers to any place of God's earth, and so the apostle turns it, Eph. vi. 3. That thou mayst live long on the eart),

LASTLY, That regard which the Lord allows his people to have to that blefing, to further thein in obedience: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Though the chief motive to duty should be the honour and command of God, yet God allows us to eye the promised reward even in temporal things, as a secondary motive and en. couragement to duty.

« PreviousContinue »