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And let the faithful Servants of God remember and comfort themselves in this. We are tempted sometimes to entertain hard thoughts of our righteous LORD, upon this account, that he feems too favourable to his wicked Servants, and permits them to live in a more plentiful and profperous condition than they do who are most faithful to him. But let us have a care of suffering any ill Opinion of God's justice and goodness to possess us. The LORD is not flack concerning his Promise, as some Men count fackness; but is longSuffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. 2 Pet. 3. 9. No Man shall be able to complain, that God is too hasty with him, or that he gives him not time enough both to do all things that belong to his Stewardship, and to make ready his ACcounts. But they who make not this good use of God's goodness towards them, do but heap up Wrath for themselves against the Day of Wrath, which is also the Day of the Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God, Rom. 2. 5. when he will make it apparent to all the World, that he is righteous in all his Ways and Dealings with the Children of Men. If therefore ye call on the Father, who without respect of Persons, judgeth according to every Man's Work, pass the time of your Sojourning here in fear. 1 Pet. 1. 17.
Let us give all diligence in the mean time to prepare, and make ready our Accounts against they be called for.
Now is the time of cafting them up, for look how they stand when we die, so must they be given in at the day of Judgment. The Account must be according to what we have received, and what we have done with all whilst here in the Body. There's no amend
ment or Correction of them allow'd us after Death; nothing to be added or substracted. Now therefore let us repent, that our Sins may be blotted out. Act 3.19.
III. It concerns us to consider how we are able to answer God, saying, How is it that I hear this of you. This is a Question, 10 which a satisfactory Answer is expected from every one of us. We must one day answer it, and upon that Answer depends our final Doom; and what comfort can we have so long as we have it not ready? The necessity therefore of such Conlideration needs no proof, seeing what is hce to be done, and is of so great moment, that our whole happiness depends upon the doing of it well, deserves (if any thing can deserve it ) to be much thought on before hand.
Let every one therefore now fet himself be. fore himself, that is, at the Bar of his own Conscience, and judge himself, that he be not judged of the LORD. 1 Cor. 11. For if our Heart condemn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all things. i Job. If we cannot make up now such Accounts, as our own Conscience will approve of, but find that it chargeth us with much that we cannot account for, how can we hope that such an Account will pass in the Court of Heaven before God's Omniscience. Tho' we knew nothing by our felves, yet were we noc. thereby justified, but be thai judgetb #s is the LORD, 1 Cor. 4. Let us therefore enquire how we can answer him. He beareth this of us, that we walte his Goods. He can be ignorant of no
thing, our daily Miscarriages are all manifest un. to him, even as were the Sins of Sodom, The Shea of our Countenance doth witness against us, and we declare our Sin as Sodom, and hide it not, as was said of the People of Israel. Isa. 1. 3. 9. of the very fame wasting Sins, which called down Vengeance on the Sodomites, is gone up unto God against us, for this was the Iniquity of Sodom's Pride, fulness of Bread, and abundance of Idleness, not strengthening the Hand of the Poor and Needy, Haughtiness, and committing abomination before God. Ezek. 16.49. Therefore faith God (so ler us fuppose, applying to our felves what he laid of that wicked People) I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me, and if not, I will know. Gen. 18. 21. I will have it made evident to all the World, that I deal not rigorously with the worst of Men, nor execute Wrath upon them, till it be cerrain, that nothing is to be said for them, either by themselves or others, why they should not be destroyed.
Suppose then we now heard God saying to every one of us, as here to the unjul Steward. How is it, that I heard this of thee? What fay'it thou in thy own defence? Is it true that I have heard, or no? Hast thou wasted my Goods or not? If it be not true, where are thy Accounts: Shew them me, and make it appear that thou art wrong’d, and has been a faithful Servant unto me. And if it be true, then say all that thou haft to say by way of Excuse, and thou shalt have a fair hearing, and all the favour and allowance, that in reason can be afforded thee.
Now let us try, what it is we have to plead. Can we deny the Fact? Have we been fo faith
ful as to make no waste? It hath been shewn we cannot. Our own Consciences testifie against us, that we have been so very negligent in the management of our Master's Goods, that very few of us ever well consider'd what things they are which God hath committed to our care, or whac use he hath commanded us to make of them. In many things we offend all. If we say, that we bave no Sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our Sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our Sins
, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Joh. 1. 8. 9. All that we have to depend upon is God's Promise, to forgive upon our Confession. We must therefore all plead guilty, and every one cry out with the Publican, God be merciful to me a Sinner.
If this be all that is required of us, our Accounts (we are ready to believe ) will casily be made; and we need not much to trouble our felves about them. Let what will be wasted by us, whilft we confefs the Waste which we have made, we are safe enough through the Promise of a Pardon. We have therefore no more to say but this, Lord, we have wasted very much, lo, here is all that remains, and for that which is wancing, we plead thy Promise of Forgiveness. We confess, we have been unfaithful and unjust, buc we know that thou are both faithfuland just, and canft not go back from thy Word, or break thy Promise.
And we may indeed be very sure of this, that God will always be righteous, how wickedly foever we behave our selves. But there is yet something else that we ought to be sure of too, that is, That our Confession be the Confeflion of true Penitents, who cease to do evil, and learn
to do well; who not only confess, but forsake our Sins; and that the Promise of Forgiveness is to such as we are.
We shall waste much as long as we live through other Infirmities, but we must take heed of wilful Wafte, and being careless in our Duty; for tho' God expects not to find us innocent, and free from every Offence or Failing; yet he expects still an ACcount of our Honesty and Sincerity, and that we take all possible care not to lin. And what now do our Consciences answer to this? We have broken the Laws of God, and therefore cannot be justified by a Legal or perfect obedience; but have we obey'd the Gospel, and perform'd the Conditions on which Grace and Mercy are promised through JESUS Cbrift, the only Saviour of Sinners? Suppose then that God shall ask us, How is it, that I hear this of you, That you have not been faithful in the new Covenant of Grace made in great Goodness with Sinners in JESUS Christ? Shew how your Evangelical Accounts stand; and whatsoever you can fairly put upon the Account of my well beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased, shall be allowed of, and for his fake remitted unto you: Whatsoever he will take upon himself, shall not be charged upon you.
Will we now fay, We have an Advocate with the Father JESUS Christ the Righteous, and he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for our's only, but for the Sins of the whole World? As we are taught, 1 Joh. 2. 1. 2. He was made by thee Sin for us, who knew no Sin, that we might be made the Rhigteoulness of God in him. 2. Cor. 5. 21. This I contess is the only Plea chat will stand us in stead, and make our Accounts pallable. But then are we