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fcience, and therefore they cannot repent of any thing, but that they have made themselves miserable. Whilst the wise Virgins lived in a continual hatred, and shunning of all sin great and small, and never committed it bur upon some surprize, or very strong Tempration coming suddenly on them, and never continu'd in ir after they discern'd it, but went mournfully all their Days because of their Folly in consenting to it. And therefore now find it easy to trim it up, by some few severe Reflections on their Life past.
They would fain now find the Love of God in their * Hearts, but no such thing can they find, whatever they
had ot it,it is gone out. They find plainly,that they ne. ver loved him at all, but in truth hated the Thoughts of him, and would gladly have been rid of his Government. And when they came to worship him, it was either for fear only, or for Custom and Fashion's Sake in a meer Formality, or for some carnal and Worldly Ends, and not in pure Love to him. They cannot find that they were willing to lose any thing for him, or do any thing, tho never so hard, to please him, nor would leave off the practice of their Follies and Vanities for his Sake, nor that they laboured to do eve.. ry thing to his Honour and Glory, or were well content to be in any condition rather than displease or dishonour him. And now they cannot love him, but. fear him as a Righteous Judge; Whilst the wise Virgins having fer their Affections all along upon God, have now nothing to do but to trim up their Love, by feeding it with the comfortable Thoughts of God's Goodness, both in himself and to them.
Finally, They would fain find that they had sincerely obey'd the Gospel of Christ, and adorned it with a holy Conversation; but no fuch thing can be found, but that they have delighted in the Works of Darknefs, which had no Agreement with the Light of the Gofpel. And now the Night iscome, and they can work no more, and so cannot perform the Obedience to Christ, which he will accept. And thus their vain Hope, wherein they comforted themselves all their Life long is quite gone out, having no fincere Obedi
ring to confungod's fure po trim ch have to
ence to feed it, no purifying of themselves as God is pure, on which their Hope should have depended, Whilst the wise Virgins having sincerely endeavour'd all their Days to obey the Gospel, have Hope in their End, only they are now to trim their Hope by conlideration of God's sure Promises to the Pure in Heart; and to consummate their Obedience, by patiently Btaring their last Sickness, and cheerfully leaving all to en. joy God.
This will certainly be the condition of every confi: dering Man when he is about to die. And now let us think of it in time, whether it be not good for us, if ic be poflible, to prevent our coming into fo hopless a state: And there is no way in the World to preveni it but one, and that is, to ger Oil enough in our Versels, and never to suffer our Lamps to go out, so long as we live. Be always examining and trying them, and as we can find Opportunities of triiting them, lay hold on them. For consider, 4thly, How the Foolish begin to beg Oil of the Wise, they said unto them, give us of your Oil. Observe here,
1. What an alteration the present apprehension of Dying will make in Men's Judgments. Whilft bad Men are in good health, and in a prosperous state, they are not easily brought to think hardly of them. selves, nay, they are generally very wise in their own Conceits, and think all Fools, that are more Religi. ous than themselves. But when they look upon themSelves as Dying Men, they begin to be of another Opi. nion, and acknowledge those to be the wiseft Persons, who provided in cime against an Evil Day. O how 'could they now wilh, that they had taken as wise a Course as they did, whom they were wont to deride for it. It is plain, thatill People make little use of their realon till they are forc'd to’t, for that would Judge always aright, would they give iç leave always to Judge for them. But it is their Lusts by which they are go. verned, and now they Judge of every thing, com. mend or condemn it, as it agrees or disagrees with their Lusts. But whenthe approach of it will suffer Lusts Death to be no longer gratified, then reason is fet ac-Liberty,
and gives its Sentence freely and impartially, as the Wise Man expresseth it, Wild. 5. 3. 4. This is be whom we had sometimes in derision, and a Proverb of Reproach. We Fools accounted his Life madness, and his End to be without Honour : How doth the approach of death change the Scene? Then what would he give, that he had been but as wise, as he whom before he counted mad?
2. What pitiful Shifts ill People are put to when they come to die, to still and quiet their troubled and troublesome Consciences. They beg where nothing is to be had: Give us, say they, of your Oil, when they know that no such shift can be made. When they might have received good by them, they would not accept of it. Good Advice and seasonable admonitions they were ever ready to give them, such, as if followed, would have prevented all their present trouble : But this was rejected, and it may be scorned, and even their good Prayers for them despised and laughed at. But now 'tis, Give us some of your Oil. Help us now, or we are undone. O what a confusion are such Sleepers in, what a Loss are they at; any thing now to make them sleep again, to give them a little ease and quier of mind; how welcome would it be!
This in the Church of Rome is much prevented to very ill purpose. Poor People are deluded with a little Superstition, instead of sincere Religion and Piety. Tho'one be guilty of gross Immoralities, yet Con. feflion to a Priest, and Absolution upon it, and a little easy Penance, will atone for all. Maffes will go a great way, and io have the Body of God, and extream Unction, is thought enough to make one die in Peace, and the Conscience of his Sins need no more trouble him. Here, saying, give us of your Oil prevails, 'ris granted, and all’tis hoped, is well.
Some fuch Arts there are too among Protestants. Persuade the Man to believe he is Elected, and then God ( as he isto believe too ) will see no Sin in him.
Shew him by some Signs that once he had Grace, and .8.1) then he must believe he could never lose it. .
And what do the generality of us, but feek for Shifrs to go quietly out of the World into Hell. Beg of all to pray for us, send for the Minister to do so too, receive the Body and Blood of Christ, resolve to leave our Sins, when they have left us; and never to live wickedly any more,' when we know we must live no longer. Alals, where the Life hath been spent irreligiously, all this doth bur shew in what confusion we are in, and that like a Man ready to be drowned, we would fain lay hold on any little Twig to save our selves. . But all this while we forget, that we cannot be saved unless our Lamps be lighted, and they cannot be lighted without Oil, no Shift without Oil will do. And this being spent, and our Lamps gone out, unless God will yet grant us time enough both to provide, and to use it too, we, for all other Shifts we can make, are in a perishing Condition.
Matt. XXV. 9. But the wise answer’d, saying, not so, left there
be not enough for us and you: but go ye
improvident, as not to bring Oil enough with
their Lamps, became sensible of their Folly · when it was too late. They found that when the
Bridegroom was at the Door, and they were to go out to meet him, their Lamps were gone out. And no way could think on, but to borrow Oil of their Companions; but their Companions had none to spare them, as appears by the Answer they here give them. Give us (say they ) of your Oil, help us in this strait, or we are undone. The wife Virgins, we may suppose, were so good natured, that they were very willing to do the Foolish any kindness that lay in their power to do, but this they could not do. We have here,
1. Their Denial, Not so, with the reason of it, Lest there be not enough for us and you.
2. Their Advice. But go ye rather to them that fell, and buy for your Selves.
1. Their Denial, The Wife answered, Saying, not so, is, expect it not of us, we cannot if we would, give you of our Oil; and if we could, yet we will not, for a good reason, i. e. left there be not enough in our Vedels both for us and you : Observe here,
1. It is not in the power of any one how good foeever, to communicate his goodness to another, to make over any part of his Righteousness unro any one. There never was but one Man in the World, who can save others by his Righteousness, and that is the Man Christ Jesus, who is God as well as Man, There is no doubt of it, but every good Christian is willing to do all that he can for his Neighbour's Sal. vation, he will afford him all the helps he can, both by his Councel and Directions, and his good Example, and his hearty Prayers for him. Thus good Men may befriend their Neighbours very much, where their Kindness will be accepted, and therefore they will, and ought to do so. And if they could communicate of their own Righteousnels to them, they would think themselves bound to do so too, but it is not in their power to do it. They can merit nothing for themselves by their Righteousness, and much less can they merit for others. So that the Doctrine of the Church of Rome is a false and deceitful Doctrine, which reacheth, that one may merit not only for himself, but for others, and Men, who have lived wickedly, may be profited by the Merits of the Saints. Buţ to satisfie us, that this is false, and that we cannot fafely rely on any Righteousness of another, but that of Jesus Christ only. Observe,
2. Good Men are always humble, how good soever they be more than others are; and acknowledge that they havé Righteousness little enough for themselves, and none to fpare for others. When they have done all chey can do, yea, tho' they had done all that God commanded them to do, yet they