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Christ and salvation. If any of you doubt whether it be your duty thus to ask counsel of your teachers, as sick men do of their physicians, let your own necessities resolve you, let God's express word resolve you; see what is said of the priests of the Lord, even before Christ's coming, when much of their work did lie in ceremonials ! " My covenant was with him of life and peace : and I gave them to him (10 Levi) for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips; he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priets' lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at bis mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.” (Mal. ii. 5, 6.)
Nay, you must not only inquire, and submit to their advice, but also to their just reprehensions, and church censures : and without proud repining submit to the discipline of Christ in their hands, if it shall be used in the congregations whereof you are members.
4. Will you for the time to come, make conscience of daily and earnest prayer to God, that you may have a part in Christ and salvation? Do not go out of doors till you have breathed out these desires to God; do not lie down to rest till you have breathed out these desires ; say not, God knoweth my necessity without so often praying; for though he do, yet he will have you to know them, and feel them, and exercise your desires and all the graces of his Spirit in these duties : it is he that hath commanded to pray continually, though he know your needs without. (1 Thess. v. 17.) Christ himself spent whole nights in prayer, and encourageth us to this course. (Luke xviii. 1.) If you will not be persuaded to this much, how can you say that you make not light of Christ and salvation ?
5. Will you for the time to come resolvedly cast away your known sins at the command of Christ? If you have been proud, or contentious, or inalicious, and revengeful, be so no more. If you have been adulterers, or swearers, or cursers, be so no more.
You cannot hold these, and yet set by Christ and salvation.
What say you? Are you resolved to let them go? If not, when you know it is the will of Christ, and he hath told you such shall not enter into his kingdom, do not you make light of him?
6. Will you for the time to come serve God in the dearest as well as in the cheapest part of his service? Not only with your tongues, but with your purses and your deeds ? Shall the poor find that you set more by Christ than this world ? Shall it appear in any good uses that God calls you to be liberal in, according to your abilities ? Pure religion, and undefiled before God, is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows, in their affliction. (James i. ult.) Will you resolve to stick to Christ, and make sure this work of salvation, though it cost you all that you have in the world ? If you think these terms too dear, you make light of Christ, and will be judged accordingly.
7. Will you for the time to came make much of all things that tend to your salvation ; and take every help that God offereth you, and gladly make use of all his ordinances ? Attend upon his strengthening sacraments, spend the Lord's own day in these holy employments ; instruct your children and servants in these things; (Deut. vi. 6.7; get into good company that set their faces heavenward, and will teach you the way, and help you thither : and take heed of the company of wicked scorners, or foolish, voluptuous fleshly men, or any that would hinder you in this work. Will you do these things ? Or will you shew that you are slighters of Christ by neglecting them?
8. Will you do all this with delight ; not as your toil, but as your pleasure ; and take it for your highest honor that you may be Christ's disciples, and may be admitted to serve and worship him; and rejoice with holy confidence in the sufficiency of that sacrifice by which you may have pardon of all your failings, and right to the inheritance of the saints in light? If you will do these things sincerely, you will shew that you set by Christ and salvation ; else not.
Dearly beloved in the Lord, I have now done that work which I came upon ; what effect it hath, or will have upon your hearts, I know not, nor is it any further in my power to accomplish that which my soul desireth for you. Were it the Lord's will that I might have my wish herein, the words that you have this day heard should so stick by you, that the secure should be awakened by them, and none of you should perish by the slighting of your salvation. I cannot now follow you to your several habitations to apply this word to your particular necessities: but O that I could make every man's conscience a preacher to himsell, that it might do it, which is ever with you : that the next time you go prayerless to bed, or about your business, conscience might cry out, · Dost thou set no more by Christ and thy salvation ?" That the next time you are tempted to think hardly of a holy and diligent life, (I will not say to deride it as more ado than needs,) conscience might cry out to thee, · Dost thou set so light by Christ and thy salvation?' That the next time you are ready to rush upon known sin, and to please your fleshly desires against the command of God, conscience might cry out, “Is Christ and salvation no more worth, than to cast them away, or venture them for thy lusts? That when you are following the world with your most eager desires, forgetting the world to come, and the change that is a little belore you, conscience might cry out to you, Is Christ and salvation no more worth than so?' That when you are next spending the Lord'sday in idleness or vain sports, conscience might tell you what you are doing. In a word, that in all your neglects of duty, your sticking at the supposed labor or cost of a godly life; yea, in all your cold and lazy prayers and performances, conscience might tell you how unsuitable such endeavors are to the reward; and that Christ and salvation should not be so slighted. I will say no more but this at this time, It is a thousand pities that when God hath provided a Savior for the world, and when Christ hath suffered so much for their sins, and made so full a satisfaction to justice, and purchased so glorious a kingdom for his saints, and all this is offered so freely to sinners, to lost unworthy sinners, even for nothing, that yet so many millions should everlastingly perish because they made light of their Savior and salvation, and prefer the vain world and their lusts before them. I have delivered my message, the Lord open your hearts to receive it; I have persuaded you with the word of truth and soberness, the Lord persuade you more effectually, or else all this is lost.
SOME IMITABLE PASSAGES
Life of Elizabeth, late wife of Mr. Joseph Baker.
[An Appendix to the Sermon preached at her funeral.]
Though I spoke so little as was next to nothing of our dear deceased friend, it was not because I wanted matter, or thought it unmeet; but I use it but seldom, lest I raise expectations of the like, where I cannot conscionably perform it. But he that hath promised to honor those that serve and honor him, (John xii. 26; 1 Sam. ii. 30,) and will come at last “ to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," (2 Thess. i. 10,) I know will take it as a great and acceptable act of service, to proclaim the honor of his grace, and to give his servants their due on earth, whose souls are glorified with Christ in heaven, though serpentine enmity will repine, and play the envious accuser.
It is not the history of the life of this precious servant of the Lord which I intend to give you, (for I was not many years acquainted with her,) but only some passages, which, either upon my certain knowledge, or her own diurnal of her course, or the most credible testimony of her most intimate, judicious, godly friends, I may boldly publish as true and imitable in this untoward, distempered generation.
She was born November, 1634, in Southwark, near London, the only child of Mr. John Godeschalk, alias Godscall. Her father dying in her childhood, she was left an orphan to the Chamber of London. Her mother after married Mr. Isaac Barton, with whom she had the benefit of religious education : but betwixt sixteen and seventeen years of age, by the serious reading of the book called “ The Saints' Everlasting Rest,” she was more thoroughly awakened, and brought to set her heart on God, and to seek salvation
with her chiefest care. From that time forward she was a more constant, diligent, serious hearer of the ablest ministers in London, rising early, and going far to hear them on the week days; waiting on God for his confirming grace in the use of those ordinances, which empty, unexperienced hypocrites are easily tempted to despise. The sermons, which she constantly wrote, she diligently repeated at home, for the benefit of others; and every week read over some of those that she had heard long before, that the fruit of them might be retained and renewed; it being not novelty that sbe minded.
In the year 1654, being near one-and-twenty years of age, after seeking God and waiting for bis resolving, satisfying directions, she consented to be joined in marriage to Mr. Joseph Baker, by the approbation of her nearest friends, God having taken away her mother the year before. With him she approved herself, indeed, such a wife as Paul (no papist) describeth as meet for a bishop or pastor of the church ; “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (1 Tim. ii. 11.) Some instances I shall give for the imitation of others.
1. She was very exemplary in self-denial and humility : and having said thus much, what abundance have I comprehended! Oh, what a beauty doth self-denial and bumility put on souls! Nay, what a treasure of everlasting consequence doth these two words express! I shall give you a few of the discoveries.
1. It appeared in her accompanying in London with the holiest, how mean soever, avoiding them that were proud, and vain, and carnal. She desired most to be acquainted with those that she perceived were best acquainted with God, neglecting the pomp and vain-glory of the world.
2. When she was called to a married state, though her portion, and other advantages, invited persons of greater estates in the world, she chose rather to marry a minister of known integrity, that might be a near and constant guide, stay, and comfort to her in the matters which she valued more than riches. And she missed not of her expectations for the few years that she lived with him. Even in this age, when the serpent is hissing in every corner at faithful ministers, and they are contemned both by profane and