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the use and to help our Purit to guide
rightly use them will certainly prove successful; and so many they are, that there is no good purpose, which may not be effectually accomplish'd by them. Means of this Nature and Vertue the World hath none, nor can any one, whatever means he use, or what wisdom foever he exerciseth in the use of them, assure himself that he Thall obtain his worldly ends by them. Our means are not of our own Invention, but of God's Prescription. He himself is our Teacher, we are taught of God. ...., We are not left to the Conduct of our own reason only, nor to be ruld by its probable Conjectures; but the wisdom of God, the erernal word, is become the light of the World. His Institutions are the principal means we are to ule. . And he hath given us his Holy Spirit to guide us into all Truth, and to help our Infirmities, and assist us in the use of these means. We have our Rule and Directory in our Hand, the Holy Scripture given by Inspiration of God, to make us perfect unto every good work, and wise unro Salvation. And is it not a shame for us to be less diligent and Industrious in the use of these excellent means, on the Consciencious use whereof is entaild the blessing of God, and all good success; ihan the Children of the World are in the use of means, which, when they have done all they can, may prove unsuccessful ?
Thirdly, Consider the evils which must follow our foolishness, either in neglecting, or nor wisely enough using those means. We thereby provoke God to be displeas'd with us; we weaken our own hopes and comforts, we scandalize the weak, we discredit our Holy Religion, we make our Repentance difficult, Death terrible, and life eternal, uncertain,
God expects a Duty from us answerable to the benefits we receive from him, and to whom more is given, of him more will, in all reason, be requir'd. If we make nor good use of what we have, and do not wisely prove the Talent be. stow'd upon us, we are in danger of having it taken from us. We ought to fear the woe against Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. God Cannot see his Mercy abus'd or slighted without Indignation. And by our neglecting to make a good use of it, we provoke him to awake us, and m ke us sensible of our folly by some very severe Chastisement; for this cause (as it was with the Corinthians many amongst us are weak and fickly, and many die. And is it no shame, thai who have receiv'd so many excellent tokens of God's love, should thus provoke him to Anger?
Our hopes are grounded on the gracious promises of God, and these promises are made to such as are careful, diligent, and industrious in the use of the means which he hath appointed for the obtaining of what he hath promised; and our Comforts arise from Testimony of our Consciences, that our Conversation is as becometh the Gospel of Christ. Our hopes therefore and our comforts must needs encrease or abate, according as our care and diligence in the use of those means is more or less. Yea, Experience assures us, that many have by their Negligence in the use of the Means of Grace brought themselves into a despairing condition, wherein their Souls have refused to be comforted.
Our remifsness in our Duty, and bold venturing upon Temptations, is too often a Scandal and Stumbling Block in the way of the Weak;
who, tho' they design well, are yet very apt to be led by Example, and to take the Lives and Practices of those whose wisdom and Piety they have a good Opinion of, for a good comment on the Rules which are given them by God in his Word. They think that they do well enough fo long as they make as good use of God's Mercy, as they fee others do, whom they think to be good Men. Thus not by our Knowledge ( as the Apostle faith, 1. Cor. 8. 11.) but by our Folly and regardlesness of our own greatest Concerns, our weak Brother may be brought into danger of perishing, for wborn Christ died.
Again, Hereby, we also encourage the Adversaries of our holy Religion to speak tvil of it, and bring it still more and inore into discredit among them, who have not kindness for it. Many of them will not give themselves the trouble of studying and considering it in the Doctrines and Rules of it given us in the Holy Scripture, nor do they read it any where but in the Lives of those who profeís it; and how should they think that we our felves believe it, when they see ys less careful, co assure to our felves the things it promiseth, by the means which it commends unto us; than the Children of this world are to make sure to themselves things no way comparable to those we pretend ro hope for.
Moreover, by this Folly of ours, we make our Repentance a great deal more difficult, without which we know that we cannot be fav’d. Through want of Care, Caution, and Watchfulness, we are drawn into many Sins which we might have avoided, and so the number of our Sins to be repented of, daily encreaseth; and hereupon also many Sins pass unobserved by us,
and so we cannot worthily repent of them. Yea, by a careless and light performance of Duty, we cheat our felves, and grow by degrees confident that we are in a very good Condition, and stand not in need of that Repentance which is our Du. ty. And ihus we are hardly persuaded to believe that we have much to repent of, and when we are convinced of this, we are the more confounded in our Thoughts about it.
And this makes che very Thoughts of dying terrible to us, because we know that to die without true Repentance is to perish everlastingly, and reflecting on our paft Behaviour, we are apt to fall inco, many doubt about the truth and sincerity of our Repentance, and whether or no such as it is, it will be accepted of by God. Hence Fears arise, that we shall never attain to eternal Life, All these things well considered, it appears how much Reason we have to be ashamed of it, that we should be less provident and careful for the alluring to our Selves eternal Blessedness, than others are for mere Trifles in comparison of that. Seeing therefore Death is at Hand, and we know not how foon we shall be called to give an Account of our Steward'hip, let us give ali Diligence to make our Calling and Election fure; that so an entrance may be ministred unto us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our LORD and Saviour JESUS Cbrist.
And I say unto you, make to your selves friends
of the Mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting babitations.
ROM the cighth Verse we learn'd, that the r Children of Light are not so wise in ordering their Affairs in relation to a blessed Eternity, as the Children of this World are in their WorldJy Concerns. Now in this Verse, our blefled JESUS reacheth us how we may be wiser, or which is the wiseft course we can take for our own future Happiness, and it is this: Whatever we have by God's Gift, so to use it, as to make it as serviceable as it can be made, for the archieying our great and ultimate End, the Salvation of our Souls. Here we have his application of the Parable to his Disciples. And I say unto yor; thac is, what I have said all this while unto you in this Parable, is this, which I now tell you very plainly. This was my meaning in it, That seeing whatever you have is of God, and you have it as his Stewards, and are therefore to order and dispose of ir, not as your Lusts would persuade you to do, but according to his Will and Pleasure, which is co do every thing to his glory; and ic being his Will that you should improve every thing to your own best advantage and profit, see that you do fo; for you will die shortly, and this Stewardship will be at an end, and you muit account for whatever you have had; and if you