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Can I do for my self to any good purpose. I can. not dig, the Day of my Life, which was the Time of Labour, is now just closing in that night, wherein no Man can work. And what can I do? I have lost the Opportunity of working out my own Salvation, and what shall I now do to be saved? I hould have been all this while bringing forth the Fruits of Holiness, the end whereof would have been eternal Life; but instead thereof, I have wasted all, and bestowed all I had for those Riches and Pleasures of this Life, which hirder'd any good Fruit I Mould have brought forth from coming to perfection. What shall I now do? VVhai Account can I give of any Improvement which I thould have made, now that all is wasted. Alafs, I have nothing but the mer. cy of my Lord to rely upon, if this fail me, I am undone for ever. And what shall I now do to make sure of that? It is promised only to the Penitent, and which way shall I be sure of the Sinçerily of my Repentance? This implieth amendment of Life, but I have no more Time left to live in ; at least, it implieth such a sincere change of Heart and Affcction, and so strong and stedfast a purpose and Refolution to amend as would be sure to hold, and be no more broken, should I yet live longer; but I now find it very hard to be in any measure assured, that my Affections are thuş really changed, and that I have so unfeignedly resolved, thai trong Teniptations would again, as they have often done, prevail over me, and change into the fame wicked Man I have always been. I have now nothing left me whereby to make sure of God's mercy but fervent Prayer. But to beg I am afhamed. The Prayer of the VVicked is Abomi
. .. nation
Tonger; buted that my funfeignedly
nation to the Lord, how then can such a wicked VVretch as I am, hope that God will hear my Prayers; when I reflect upon the Course of Life I have all along led, and how I slighted all the mercies of God, and hearkened not to the many earnest Calls, and most gracious Invitations, and daily warning that he gave me to repent, and return to his Obedience, and lay hold on his mercy, what Reason can I find to hope, that he will not do as he hath fonetimes threatened, saying, When ye make many Prayers I will not bear, when gje spread forth your Hands, I will bide mine. Eyes from you. Ifa. 1. 15. Because I have called, and ge refused; I have stretched out my Hand, and no Man regarded. I also will laugh at your Calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer. Prov. 1.24. 26. 28. VVhat chen can I do, but de. spair, and die? ;
Why will we now that we have the day to labour, and do the works of God in, now that we are sure, that our Prayers may be heard, and that if we turn to the LORD with all our hearts, God will be found of when we seek him, lose the opportunity which he gives us, and by delaying our Repentance to our last Sickness, or God's call whatever it be, run the hazard of being driven to this lamentable state of Fear and Perplexity, so that we shall not know which way to turn us, nor to be able to quiet our own Minds, ur be capable of any Confolation in the needful. est time of trouble?
1. 4. Let us now observe the Resolution that this Man came to upon his Confideration. I am re
rolu'd (faith he) what to do, that when I am put out of the Stewardship, they may receive me into their Houses. And what it was that he was resolv'd to do, we are told in the three following Verses.
5. So he calld every one of his Lord's Debtors
unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest
tbou unto my Lord ? 6. And be said, an hundred Measures of Oyl,
And be said unto him, take thy Bill, and fit down quickly, and write Fifty.
7. Then said he unto anot her, And how much
owest thou? And he said, An hundred Measures of Wheat. And, he said unto him, take tby Bill, and write four score.
After the fame manner we must suppose him to have treated with all his Lord's Debtors, how many soever they were. And here we shall but observe two things. First, How quickly he refolvid. Secondly, What he resolv'd upon.
1. Observe how quickly he comes to a reso. lution. At first, he was at a stand, What shall I do? But having considered the two ordinary ways whereby Men live, Labour and Charity, he presently finds them not for his purpose, and layeth aside any farther thoughts of either of them, and immediately resolves upon another way. Consideration is a thing that too few make much use of, not only because it is troublesom, and takes us off from the liberty we
love to have in the Enjoyment of our Ease and Pleasure, but because it discovers to us, and brings to our Remembrance things that we love not, neither desire to take notice of. And yer. Resolution is harder than Consideration, and they that sometimes consider a great deal, yer break it off before they come up to a Resolution; for as Considering discovereth what's fit to be done, so it also shews us the difficulties in the way, and the dangers that may follow, and therefore after we have considered, we often want the Courage to resolve. And yet, after all, we find it harder than both the former, to stand to our Resolution, and not to fall back from it ; because when we come to the execution of what we have well resolv'd upon, our Lusts and Corrupt inclinations begin to Thew themselves in earnest, and make such Opposition, as we are too feldom stout enough to withstand.
Thus, I say, we find it, when the thing is good, and our Duty. But now for the doing of Evil, little Consideration will serve our turn, and if more be needful, we find the work pleasant enough, and we can quickly resolve, and find it not difficult at all to execute, and do as we have resolv'd. Here the Consideration is not what is lawful, or what in it felf is fittest to be done, but what is pleasant, and will afford us most fatisfaction to the Flesh. It is easy to resolve where corrupt nature strongly inclines, and the Affections persuade, and there is no fear of God to reAtrain, nor Modesty to refrain, and the Custom and Fashion of the World Countenance. Every thing. in such a case is with us, and nothing against us, and this was the case of the Unjust Steward.
Vice discovers all its beauty to us at first fight, and is every where to be seen, and when we fee ir we find it like us, and so presently fall in love with it, because 'cis easy and suitable to our humour we bid it welcome, and because 'tis fashionable, we blush not, and therefore away with both digging and begging, we are resolv'd this shall be it, whatever come on't.
And now, what is it? Why, something he resolves to do, it's no matter how wicked a thing it be, whereby he may so oblige his Lord's Deb tors, that when he turns him out of his House, they may receive him into theirs. Here's the end he aims at, that he may still live plentifully, at whose cost he cares not, nor whether by righ; or wrong; any means therefore that will help him to compass this end he resolves to use. Not a thought of recovering his Master's favour, be. cause that could not, he now found, be kept but by doing justly, and doing so, he could be no longer at liberty to waste what he pleas'd ; not a word of redeeming his Credit and Reputation with Good Men, let that link or swim, so he can, with any sort of Men, find credit enough to live wastefully. He resolves to curry favour with bad Men like himself, and if he cannot find such made to his Hand, to do his beft to make them fo. However, his Master may en. deavour to make him poorer than he was, he resolves he shall never make him honefter. He had liv'd by abusing him, and so he will still if he can. And possibly this was no hard matter for him to do, he had been long enough Steward to be acquainted with his Master's Debtors, and posfibly one time or other he had had an opportu.