Page images


[ocr errors]

2. Sudden resolutions in matters which will allow delibera. tion, are often to be suspected. Sometimes the matter of fin and duty is of that nature, that there is no time to deliberate; all that can be done is, to look to the Lord for immediate clear nefs, and the Christian shall have it, Prov. iv. 12. When tbou runneft, thou falt nuut Jumble. Compare Matth. X. 19. But when they deliver you up, take 10 thought how or what ye ball speak, jer it all b: given you in that same bour what ye Jhall speak. Sometimes the Christian may have time to deliberate, and then God's ordinary way is to clear men step by step, Prov. 10. 12. IV her thou goest, thy steps skall not be liraitened. Say not, the way is plain at first glance in this case ; for the Spirit of God bids thee ponder the path of thy feet, Prov. iv. 26. If a way be such as our own heart at the very first inclines to, I say it ought the rather to be narrowly examined, seeing rin scripture-language the way of our own heart is of no good

And suppose the inclination of the man's heart does really fall upon the right side in this case, yet this is no Chrifti an refolution, but a stumbling on the right way, which God


will never accepr.' Therefore men that would act as Christians | in the point of lin and duty, should lay afide prejudices, tram

ple their inclinations under foot, lay the matter before the Lord, and themselves open to conviction there, as a piece of clean paper, ‘on which God may write what he sees meet, pondering all things with a holy jealousy over their own hearts, lest (they be biafled by their own inclinations and preconceived opinions. I am sure muċli of God is to be found in this way.

7. Acknowiedge God more in your temporal concerns, ---Prov. ini, 6. Are we Christians ? let us depend on God for all 2 things in this life and the other. We are directed to pray

about them, the promises are about them, and therefore we fhould wait on God for them. Many a sweet experience have the saints got in temporal things, when they have been helped to lay them before the Lord, and leave them there without anxiety, in the use of the means.

8. kafly, Hare a precise refpect to all the commands of God, and be truiy strict in your lives; that is, deal with men as believing God's eye is upon you, and with God as if the eyes of men were upon you. Never look on the authority

of the multitude as sufficient to make that no fault, which will as not abide Itzict examination by the word of God. Let the

coðimand of God prevail with you ; and whatloever liberty ye may take for ought that men can say or do to you, let that be a fufficient restraint. Thus attain experimental religion

and Mortality *

Two fermons preached on a congregational faft-day, at Et. :,trick, April 27. 1720, on occasion of the great fickness i and mortality then prevailing.

Psalm XC. 12. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts

unto wisdom.

The fermon in the forenoon. Ta THIS text is a prayer suitable to the dispensation of this

day. While we stand and fee so much fickness and mortality prevailing among us, they have stout hearts indeed, who look not up to the Lord with this or the like peti. tion in their hearts, So teach us, &c.

This pfalm was calculated for a dying time, being supposed to be penned upon the occafion of that sentence paffed in the wilderness, Num. xiv, 28. c. concerning the death of those from twenty years old and upward who came out of the land of Egypt, lo as none of them should enter Canaan but Caleb and Joshua. It was penned, I say, by Mofes, who saw. in the space of forty years fix hundred thousand men fwept off by death, besides women and children.

There are three things insisted on in the body of this pralin, and summed up together, ver. 10, 11. A fhort life, a fure deaib, and a severe judgement. And here is the use of them, O to consider these so as to be wise for our souls, O fori

cia 2 fanctified use of the fad difpenfation. In the words there is,

1. A lefion defired to be learned, (1.) The lefion itself, of counting or numbering of our days; i. e. of confidering them duly and seriously, as he who tells any thing before him, looks to every one of the number, and makes a just reckoning. (2.) The teacher of whom only we can learn this is God himself It is a difficult leflon to learn to purpose. Many good count: ers who can dexterously count great fums, are quite out in the calculation of their days, Luke xii. 19. 20. There is a neceflity of the teaching of the Spirit, in order to learn this divine arthmetic.

...''!... 2. The standard of proficiency in this leffon, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom ; i. e. that we learn it so, as we apply ovriclves to ferious goaliness, which is tbe only wisdom: Hebe that we may bring ini a heart of wisdom, ise. Ja wife

* See above, notę; p. 383, 4.


[ocr errors]

heart. We have natura!ly light land foolish hearts ; but he, and only he, learns this leffon well, that brings in a serious, religious, and wise heart, from the school of the word and providence, where that leffon is taught. . All under this itandard are but bunglers at the lesson, they have not yet learned it truly: though they can talk of it, viz. the fhortness and va. nity of life, they are never a whit the wiser for all that, in re. fpect of their souls; they have not yer got it by heart, but only by head; and therefore they are still the carnal, careless men they were before.

The words being thus explained, I shall, as the subject of this forenoon's discourse, observe the following doctrine.

Doct. A time of mortality is a special call to all rightly to number their days. Sin brought in mortality into the world, Gen. ii. 17. compare chap. v. A:nd it has never gone out of it fince ; at all times fome are here and there stepping off: but there are some times by way of eminency to be called times of motality, as that in the wilderness, and as now amongst us in this land. This has a special call.

Here I shall fhew,
1. What it is to number our days.
II. That a time of mortality is a special call to this work. [..
I. I am to shew what it is to number our days. It imports,

1. Our days had a beginning, and we must reflect on that, Pfal. xxii. 9. Every thing that is numbered must have a beginning; and therefore God's duration is not liable to num. bering. But we may foon perceive our beginning to be in the world, and thence learn and observe,

(1.) That it is by divine appointment, and not by neceffity of our nature, that we continue to be. The latter is proper to God only; by the former angels and men, and all creatures, are continued in being. For he that once had no be. ing, can dever claim a natural necessity cf continuing to be.

(2.) That every moment of our life hangs on the divine will and pleasure, Rev. iv. ult. There is no necessary connec: tion betwixt your living this moment, and living the next. The only bond betwixt them is God's word of appointment, Heb j. z. Loose that, and remove it, our life

goes, and

our eyes (hall never see the next moment. No food, no physic can prevent i!, Matth iv. 4. There is no outliving that word, Pfal. xc. 3. Thou turnejt man to destruction ; and sayes, Return, ye chi dren of men, so much as for one moment.

(3.) That we must go the way of ali fleth; for mary

[ocr errors]

those we found in the world at our coming into it, are now gone, Zech.i. 5. This world is always like a fair near the height, where some are coming in, others going out, and those within in confusion, Eccl. i. 4. I doubt not but there may be fome in this house this day, who, if they will confider, shall not find one of all those that filled it at their first coming into it, in it this day. But these are gone, and others have come into the room of them all. And shall not others reckon so of us in a little time?

2. Our days will have an end, and, we must serioully confider that. Hence says the pfalmist, Pfal. xxxix.4. Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is. Every thing that is numerable has an end; and therefore eter. nity cannot be numbered, since it hath no end. But we may soon come to the end of our count, when we are counting our days; and thence may learn and observe,

(1.) That the shored tree will be cut down at length. 'I know that thou wilt bring me to death, says Job, and to the house appointed for all living, Job xxx. 23: When we were forft : planted in this world, the axe was laid down at the root of the tree, and we have grown up beside it. There is never a : pain nor stitch, but it is a stroke of that axe, a pledge of a greater. Sometimes it has almost struck through, but in a little time it will go through for altogether. So that man shall lie down, and not rise till the heavens be no more: "...!!

(2.) We will need nothing for this life ere long. Dip not lo deep in the cares of this world as most do, to the ruin of their souls. Many have been anxious to provide for the day which they never faw, as the rich man in the parable did, Luke xii. 17.–20. The clods of earth will serve for back and belly ere long, and we will have no portion in what is done under the fun; others will possess the lioufes, lands, &C., which we now occupy.

(3.) See now how ye will begin eternity. It will begin with us when our days are come to an end; and as we begin it, so we will continue in it, Heb. ix. 27. Our itate now is alterable, but then it is unalterable for ever. Therefore now or never let us secure a happy, eternity. Learn your duty from the injust steward, the serious confideration of which I recommend to you, Luke xvi. 3.--8.

(4) Working time for eternity will not last. It clofeth with the end of our days : Therefore whatsoever' thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might : for there is no work, rior device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave auhither the guest, Eccl. iki 160


Ufe,B: not idle spectators of the dispensation of this day. Nuinver your days, fo as ye ny apply your hearts unto, wisdom. If you will not take warn og to prepare for eternity, by the rearoval of others, take heed leit God make you a warning to others. Let the aged and young hear the voice of the rod, and seriously improve it.

3. Our days are few, and we must confider that they are the number of a man, they may be counted. There are some things not innumerable in themselves, yet cannot be numbered for their multitude. But there is no such multitude of the days of our life.

(1.) Confider the counters the scripture affords us to count our days by. A web, If. xxxviii. 12. ; it is such a web as one is still working at without intermission, and therefore will soon be cut out grass, and a flower, foon withered, If. xl. 6. 7.; green at morn, and cut down at night, Pfal. xc. 6.:—a vapour that vanishech away, frail, uncertain, and of short continua il ance, Jam. iv. 14. :--smoke, Plal. cii. 3. :-a wind, a blait, or puff, Job vii. 7.:—a fleep, Pfal. xc. 5.:-a dream, Job xx. 8.2 hand-breadth, Pfal. xxxix. 5.-nothing, ibid. compare Eccl. iii. 2.

Count with these counters, and the reckoning will be very small, which the scripture also has cast up to our hands.

(2.), Consider the scripture-reckoning of man's life. The highest reckoning is by years, now brought down to a few scores, Psal. xc. 10. Nay, as we count the age of infants by months, so is man's age reckoned, Job xiv. 5. As if months were too big a word, it is brought down to days, and a few days, Job xiv. 1. yea, to one day, wherein there is but a morning, noon, and evening, Job xiv. 6. ; and yet lowers to an houry. 1 John ji. 18. aye to a moment, that is past ere one is aware, 2 Cor. xv. 17. Prov. xii. 19.

So the fun of our days is very small.

From both ye may find that our days are few; and thence learn and observe,

(1.) It is no safe counting to count many years in to come, whatever ye be, lest ye be out in your account, as the rich mari was, Luke xii. 19.-20. Many whose youth and strength feemed to give them ground for counting fo, have been forced to see their mistake and count again, little to their comfort, death coming ere it was looked for. * (2.). Our days will foon be at an end. We will quickly be over our hand-breadth. They fly like a shadow, Job xiv. 2. And though a weaver's shuttle is very fwift, in going from the one fide of the web to t je other, our days are swifter than it is, Job vii. 6. See what jb says, chap. ix. 25. 26. Now my days VOL. III.

4 H

« PreviousContinue »