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Look not for him, and at an hour when we are not aware.
More particularly, we should take up a present and effectual resolution, not to delay our repentance, and the reformation of our lives, that we may not have that great work to do, when we are not fit to do any thing; no not to dispose of our temporal concernments; much less to prepare for eternity, and to do that in a few moments, which ought to have been the care and endeavour of our whole lives: that we may not be forced to huddle up an imperfect, and I fear an insignificant repentance; and to do that in great haste and confusion, which certainly does require our wisest and most deliberate thoughts, and all the consideration in the world.
And we should provide store of oil in our vessels, wherewithal to supply our lamps, that they may burn bright to the last; I mean, we should improve the grace which we received in baptism, by abounding in the fruits of the Spirit, and in all the substantial virtues of a good life; that so an entrance may be ministred to us abundanily into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Chrift.
By this means, when we are called to meet the bridegroom, we shall not be put to those miserable and sharking Îhifts which the foolish virgins were driven to, of begging, or borrowing, or buying oil; which will all fail us, when we come to depend upon them : and though the dying man may make a hard shift to support himself with these false comforts for a little while; yet, when the short delusion is over, which will be as soon as ever he is stepped into the other world, he will, to his everlasting confusion and trouble, find the door of heaven shut against him ; and that, notwithstanding all his vast treasure of pardons and indulgences, which have cost him so much, and are worth so little, he shall never see the kingdom of God.
And, lastly, we should take great care that we do not extinguish our lamps, by quitting the profession of our holy religion upon any temptation of advantage, or for fear of
any loss or suffering whatsoever. This occasion will call for all our faith and patience, all our courage and constancy Nunc animis opus, Ænea, nunc pectore firmo.
When it comes to this trial, we had need to gird up the loins of our minds, to fummon all our forces, and to put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand fast in an evil day, and when we have done all to stand.
And now, my brethren, to use the words of St. Peter, chap. v. 12. I testify unto you, that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. The Protestant reformed religion, which we in this nation profess, is the very gospel of Christ, the true ancient Christianity.
And, for God's sake, since in this hour of temptation, when our religion is in so apparent hazard, we pretend to love it to that degrec, as to be contented to part with any thing for it, let us resolve to practise, it; and to testify our love to it, in the same way that our Saviour would have us fhew our love to him, by keeping his commandments. · I will conclude all with the Apostle's exhortation, so very proper for this purpose, and to this present time, Phil. i. 27. Oinly let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ, that is, chiefly and above all, take care to lead lives suitable to the Christian religion: and then, as it follows, stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, stria ving together for the faith of the gospel : and int nothing terrified by your adversaries, which to them is an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Now unto him that is able to fiablish you in the gospel, and to keep you from falling; and to present you faultless bea fore the presence of his glory with exceeding joy: to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Imen.
A thanksgiving fermon for our deliverance
by the Prince of Orange.
Preached at Lincoln's Inn chapel, January 31. 1688.
The E PISIL E DEDICATOR Y.
To the Worshipful the MASTERS of the Bench, and
the rest of the Gentlemen of the Honourable Society of LINCOLNS-INN.
Hough I was at first very unwilling to expose to the
publick a sermon made upon fo little warning, and so great an occafion; yet, upon second thoughts, I could not think it fit to resist the unanimous and earnest request of so many worthy persons, as the Masters of the Bench of this Honourable Society; to whom I stand so much indebted for your great and continued respects to me, and kind acceptance of my labours among you for now above the space of fire and twenty years. In a molt grateful acknowledgment whereof, this discourse, such as it is, in mere obedience to your commands, is now humbly presented to you, by
EZ R A ix. 13. 14. And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and
for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God halt punished us less ihan our iniquities deserve, and hasi given
us such a deliverance as this : Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations ; wouldst not thou be angry with us till thou hadji consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
I Am Tufficiently aware, that the particular occasion
of these words is, in several respects, very different
from the occasion of this day's folemnity. For these words were spoken by Ezra, at a time appointed for publick and folemn humiliation. But I shall not now consider them in that relation, but rather as they refer to that great deliverance which God had so lately wrought for them; and as they are a caution to take heed of abusing great mercies received from God; and so they are very proper and pertinent to the great occasion of this day. Nay, these words, even in their faddest aspect, are not so unsuitable to it. For we find in scripture, upon the molt solemn occasions of humiliation, that good men have always testified a thankful sense of the goodness of God to them. And indeed the mercy of God doth then appear above measure merciful, when the finner is most deeply sensible of his own vileness and unworthiness. And so Ezra here, in the depth of their sorrow and humiliation, hath so great a sense of the greatness of their deliverance, that he hardly knew how to express it : And hast given us such a deliverance as this. And, on the other hand, we find that good men, in their most folemn praises and thanksgivings, have made very serious reflexions upon their own unworthiness. And surely the best way to make men truly thankful, is, first to make them very humble. When David makes his most folemn acknowledgments to God for his great merT 2
cies cies to him, how doth he abase himself before him?
Chron. xxix. 14. But who am I, and what is my people? And so likewise, after he had fummoned all the powers and faculties of his soul to join in the praises of God, he interposeth this feasonable meditation, Pfal. ciii. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our fins ; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. The greater and more lively sense we have of the goodness of God to us, the more we shall abhor ourselves in dust and ashes; nothing being more apt to melt us into tears of repentance, than the confideration of great and undeserved mercies vouchsafed to us. The goodness of God doth naturally lead to repentance. :
Having thus reconciled the text to the present occafion, I shall, for the more distinct handling of the words, take notice of these two parts in them.
1. Here is a case supposed, Should we : After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and since God hath pismijl: ed us less than our iniquities deferve, and hath given us jich a deliverance as this; should we again break his commandments.
2. Here is a sentence and determination in the case : Wouldnt thou not be angry with us till thou hadst consumed ws, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping This is not spoken doubtfully, though it be put by way of question ; but is the more vehemently positive, the more peremptorily affirmative: as if he had said, It cannot 0therwise be in reason expected, but that after such repeated provocations, God should be angry with us till he had confumed us.
First, Here is a case supposed, Should we : After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trefrafi, and since God hath punished is less than our iniquities deserve, and hath given us such a deliverance as this; jhould we again break his commandments, and join in affinity with the fesple of these abominations. In which words, these following propositions seem to be involved; which I Shall but just mention, and pass to the second part of the text.
1. That sin is the cause of all our sufferings : After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass. Our evil deeds bring all other evils upon us.