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as if they had any thoughts of dying foon, or of gi: ving an Account of all they do, when they are dead What a lawless and licencious course of Life do most People Live? And yet we all say we are Christians, '. and look to be saved by Christ, and believe that he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. But, alass, whoever observes after what a carelels manner we live, would never imagine we once thought of any such thing as his coming to judge us.
, whoe to juared by
Matt. XXV. 7,8. And all those Virgins arose, and trim'd their
Lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise,
give us of your Oil, for our Lamps are gone out. I DEre our Blessed Saviour shews usthe condition that It all Christians will find themselves in, when once they are awak'd out of their security and their behaviour; thereupon. After the cry was made, when they saw' that there was no longer delay to be usd, because the Bridegroom, who had carried so long, was now at last certainly coming, and just at hand; and now that they must, whether they are prepar'd or no, go forth to meet him. Then they all arose, and trim'd their Lamps. Where observe,
1. All of them, wise and foolish, are at last an waked.
2. All of them did what then they could to be ready, all arose, beftir'd themselves, and fell to trimming their Lamps, snuffing, cleansing, and supplying them with Oil.
3. The Foolish now find when they come to trim their Lamps, that they are gone out.'_ !
4. They then beg Oil of the wise. This we should consider, and think well of in time, that we come not to this sad strait.
1. All of them, wise and foolish, are at last awaked, the cry that was made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh,
"Do ye forth to meet him, awaked them all. If nothing elle will rouze us from our Couches of rest, where we think our selves well because we are at ease, and not troubled with any concern at all for our latter end; yer the Approach of Death, or a real Apprehension of our being just ready to die, will awake and startle us. There are but two sorts of People, I think, chat we can imagine can be unconcern'd at that time, and they are in so much the ladder condition for it.
1. Such as are surpriz'd either by sudden Death, or by fome stupifying disease which seizeth the Brain, and bereaves them of their Senses. Indeed, Death it self doch not awaken these to any serious thoughts for they are not capable of any. Or,
2. Such as have sinned themselves past fense, whose Consciences are fear'd, their Hearts hardened, and they are given over to a reprobate Mind, as God deals with them who do not like to retain him in their knowledge. These two sorts of Sinners will be awak'd with nothing but the Flames of Hell. The one know nothing of Death when it overtakes them, never perceiving they are a dying; and therefore if they be not beforehand prepar'd, never can be. The other, tho' they perceive Death Approaching, yet look on it on. ly as the common end of all Men, but never think, or will not believe any thing after it, whereunto it calls them.
But if a Man have his Senses, and be not quite abandoned of God as desperate, I think it is not possible, but whatever he did in his Healch, he will then be awak'd into some serious thoughts of bis condition. And our own Experience doth witness this, we see not many die sensible, but they are concern'd what will become of them. And, alass! what a confusion must he then needs be in, who is dropping out of the World, and he knows not whither, for want of a timely preparation ?
And this very thing should move us to be every day Examining and Trying our state towards God, and whether our Lamps be in or out, seeing we know
the cry will come, Go ye forth, Go ye 'forth, to meet your Judge..
This should open our Ears to the Cries that every day we hear, before that last and dismal cry come. Lift up your Voice like a Trumpet, cry aloud and spare not, Said God to the Prophets. Ifai. 58, 1. John the Bapa tift came with the Voice of one crying in the Wilderne's, prepare ye the way of the Lord. The Minilters of God are his criers, saying, awake thou that fleepest, and arise from the Dead, and Christ Mall give thee Light. The Death of our Friends and Neighbours continu. ally calls upon us, to be warned by them to expect our own. And are we resolved noc to awake till Sickness come to awake us ? Take heed, defpise not the voice of Wisdom, doth not Wisdom cry, and the Understanding put forth her Voice? Yes, she crieth in the Gates, unto you, O, Men, I call, and my Voice is to the Sons of Men. Oye Simple understand Wisdom, and ye Fools be ye of on understanding Heart, Pro. 8. 1. O! What will be the Issue of neglecting this cry? You will find it at the last to be what you are told by God. Pro. 1. 24. Because I have called, and ye refused, they shall call upon me, and I will not answer. v. 28. Even thuo when their fear comerh, which if ever it do, it is nost likely to do upon their Death, Bed.
2. Being awake, all of them did what they chen could, to make ready to go forth; all arose and bestirred themselves, and tell to trimming their Lamps. No perswasions will prevail with Sinners that have got a babit of Sinning securely, to get Oil, and trime their Lamps in time. But as long as the Bridegroom tarrieth, they are still pleasing themselves either with thoughts, that there is no such Person to come, or that he will not come at all, or that he will tarry yet a while longer, and they need not Trim their Lamps yet. But when Death is within fight, when Men begin to believe that they can live no longer, they usually also begin to do those things which they laugh'd at others, it may be, before, for being so careful to do. Now they begin to prepare
themselves, as well as they can, for dying, and going forth of the World. They begin to think then with themselves : What tho' I know not whether there be such a Person as this Bridegroom, or no ? Yet because I know not but there is such an one, and I am now going to see him, if there be one to be seen ; it behoves me to be as well fitted to meet him as I can, left I should meet him to my forrow. If I be not prepared to meet him, and yet shall meet him, how will he look upon me? What must I expect from him? Besure I shall have a very fad Welcome, and if I take what pains I can to fit my self, tho’I meet him not, yet I am sure to fare no worse for it. And therefore I will now however arise, and trim up my Lamp. These thoughts approaching, Death cannot but put us upon thinking, it we be then capable of it, and be not forsaken of God. But now see the misery of it,
3. The foolish Virgins now find when they come to trim their Lamps, that they are gone out, and that the little Oyl they had is quite spent, and none is left to supply them; nor know they which way to get them lighted up. Here's the sad and bitter fruit of delay, and a late, or death.bed Repentance. They are awakened, and see themselves in a condition like to him, who is awakened with the cry of Fire, and when he looks about him, and fain would fave himfelf, he sees the house in Flames about him, and finds he has now slept too long, and there is no way to escape.
The secure Sinner livesin a great deal of confidence, that he's in no worse a Cafe than other Men, and shall be as happy as they when he dieth; bur, alas, when is that whilst he looks on Death as a great way off, every shew of being Religious satisfies him, if he say bis Prayers, and come to Church, and live, a fo. ber, temperate and honest Life, all's well enough with him, his Lamp burns bright enough, he thinks, and there's no danger. But the first appearance of Death affrights him, and spoils all his Confidence. For entering upon an Examination of himself, which he feldom
troubled his Head with before; the apprehenfion of present danger makes him impartial, and in good earnest, and then he quickly perceives that he never had been so before, but had play'd and dallied with God, and his own Soul, all his Life long. · Now he would find Faith, but cannot, for he had never well considered and digested the grounds and reasons of it, but took things on trust, and so never had any true Belief; or he never fed and strengthened it by Meditation and Prayer, nor exercised it in good Works to keep it alive, and so finds it was never lighted up, or it is gone out. Whilst the wise Virgins have nothing to do, but to trim their Faith; they find it there, and it gives Light, only by exercising then some few seasonable Considerations, they make it more bright and clear, as is needful in that dark Hour.
Fain they would find Repentance, but, alass, 'tis not to be found, ’ris gone out whatever it was; they had, it may be, sometimes confessed their Sins, and then they sinned them over again; they had falted and prayed now and then a Day, and then returned to their Rioring and Drunkenness, Folly and Wantonness a. gain; they had sometimes forrow'd a little, and shed it may be, fome Tears in a melancholy fit,and sudden fear, left they should perish, and then rejoyced and delighted in their Sins again. Now therefore they find, that their Life hath been spent in Sin and Vanity; and now they are only forry, that they are going to be called to account for it; and cannot find that they hate their Sins, wherein they have been fo much delighted;, but only that they are afraid they shall be punished, and pay dearly for that delight; Nay, they find plainly, they have so accustomed themselves to delight in their Sins, that tho they cannot act them, yet they love them still. They never conGidered throughly the Nature of Sin, and the Evils that are in it, and therefore cannor hate it as they ought; 'they never took notice of half the Sins they committed, but through inconsideration took many great Sins for no Sins, and acted them freely without trouble of Coną