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confess they are unprofitable Servants, for they have done but that which it was their Duty to do. Luk. 17.10. Nay, they are always jealous of the scantinels of their own Righteoulness, left they should not have enough for themselves. And indeed the best hath great Realon to be so, seeing there is no Man living that sinneth not; He that says be bath no Sin doth but deceive himself. 1 Joh. 3:8, Tea in many things we offend all, Jam. 3. Lo and there, fore if God mall enter into Judgment with us, and make us no Abatements in mercy, no Man Living Shall be 34a fified, or accepted as Righteous, Rom. 3. 20. But must be fain to flie to the Righteousness and Merits of Jesus Christ, to have his Sins covered, and his Uprighteousness forgiven. And then how should he who hath so little Righteousness, and so many Sins, that stands in need himself of another's Righteoulness, and of a Pardon, Merit, or have Righteousness to spare for another? So absurd is the Doctrine of the Church of Rome, that some holy Persons do not only all that which by any Law of God they are bound to do, but a great deal more, so that they have Righteousness more than they themselves stand in need of to entitle them to Heaven. And all this which they have to spare, is in the Disposal of the Church, or Pope; and he can dispense it in Pardons, and Indulgences to them who stand in need of it, upon such Terms, as he seeth good. But I would delire every one to take care to provide for himself, and not to rely on this Imaginary Treasure. For the wise Virgins take this course, and the Foolish only would be beholden to others. I have never heard of any pious and holy Person, chat hath not confessed, that he hath too little Righteousness for himself, and not enough without the Righteous ness of Christ to save him.
3. Another thing we may here observe. That eo very one's ownSalvation ought to be deareft to him. A good Man will indeed venture all that he hath but his Soul,to help forward the Salvation of others, he is ready after the Example of his Blefsed Saviour, to
lay lay down his Life for the Brethren. Joh. 3. 16. But he is not willing to venture his Damnation for apy one, how dear foever to him. He will not venture the Loss of God and Heaven, nor the Benefits of a Saviour for his best Friend. This may be learn'd from the Answer of the wile Virgins, Lest there be not enough for us and you. Whereby they do not acknowledege that they have not enough for both, but little enough for themselves, but intimate withal, that if they could communicate to them of what they had, yet would they not in this case do it, because they should so hazard their own, having too little, the going out of their own Lamps, and for that a shutting out of Doors by the Bridegroom. Let every one first see, that he work out his own Salvation with Fear and Trembling. Phil. 2. 12. and then for the Salvation of others do all that he can, cho he fhould lose any temporal Advantages by it, how great foever they be, tho' it were with St. Paul to be offered up upon the Service of their Faith.Phil.2.17.
This you may think a needless caution, and that few are fo charitable to others, aş to be damned for chem. I think so too. Yet are there fome ufeful Lessons to be learn'd by it. '1. This shews us the Sin of some in the Church of Rome, who make use of piæ Fraudes, Religious Frauds, or Cheats, as they call them, for the propagating and upholding their Religion; aņd very ill things they will allow and commend too, so it be for the Honour of Mother Church, as they speak, Men may be Traytors, and murther, and Lie, and swear falily in Judgment, so it tend to the good of their Church. This is a spending of Oil too fast, parting with their own Innocence, for the pretended good of others.
2. Hereby we are directed how to behave our selves in case of Scandal, or giving Offence to weak Brethren, and endangering their Souls thereby. For howsoever Charity may Command us to abstain from every thing that is in our Pawer, and is not a Duty for their lakes ; yet if they will be of,
things and upheld as they
fended, and take occasion to Sin and Perilh by our doing our Duty, they must do so for us, we cannot help it; we must see that our Lamps have Oil, how much soever they are offended at, or what ill use foever they will make of it.
3. Here they are justly reproved, who are willing to spend their Oil, nor for the Salvation but Damnation of others. Who are willing to ler their Lamps go out for Company, to please such as they call their Loving Neighbour and Friends. This is a Friendfhip, I confess, beyond the highest Christian Charity. Charity will Command us to do any thing, but to Sin and be Damned for our Neighbour's Salvation. But it is too much good Neighbourhood to Sin, and go to Hell too, rather than break Friendship now.
2. The next thing to be consider'd, is, the advice here given, Go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for your selves. This feems to be Ironical, and spoken in a kind of Mockery; for it was now too late to go to buy Oil, when the Bridegroom was at the Door: and so it seems to have this Sence. See now your Folly, see what you have got by your neglect, and taking no care to buy whilst you had time and opportunity, now go and buy where you can. But we'll suppose the wise Virgins to be better Natur'd and Manner'd, than co insult over their Companions in this strait, or to jeer them in their misery.
However, good Christians fignified by the wise Virgins are so, and Pity and Commiserate, rather than Triumph over the Folly of the Wicked. The Answer therefore implies thus much.
1. What course ought to have been taken by’em.
2. An Admonition, such as can then be given, to use the best means they can think of in that short time they had.
1. Whar should have been done. This, tho’it had been omitted, yet they are to be put in mind of it.
1. The thing neglected, was getting Oil whilft it was to be had. God had not made it neceffary wh ." n .lica's
bedü. i for
for us to have Oil in our Lamps, to have a încere Heart, and a holy Life, mortified Aftections, holy Delires, governed Paffions, and a Conversation Heavenly, suitable to our Profession; if he had not provided fufficient helps and means, for the obtain. ing and upholding of all these. The Ministry of his Word and Sacraments, serious Meditation, and deliberate consideration of our own Original and Nafure; of God's Attributes and Dominion over us ; of our latter end, and of both the rewards of Righ. teousness, and the punishment of Disobedience and Wickedness, and devout Prayer for God's Holy Spirit ; these, and the like, are means that we need not want ; and chele duly used, would furnish us with Oil, and keep our Lamps burning to the last. The neglecting of these helps, is the reason that we want Oil, when we become molt sensible of the need of it. But, alas, we mind other things, and ler slip the opportunity. We should buy it, purchase it at the expence of things we are not willing to part with for it. Our Ease and Sloth, our vain Pleasures and Vanities, our inordinate Desires of Wealth, and our proud Ambitious Designs; these, and such like, are to be freely given up and paid a. way for this Oil, and cherefore we are not wil. ling to make the purchase, till the Market is over.
2. Where there has been such a neglea, tho' it may be too late, yet is it fit we should, even late as it is, be reminded of it. 'Tis fir we be brought to as humbling a Sense of our Folly, as 'tis pollible, Where a Duty has been omitted, Self.Condemnation, and an humble acknowledgment of it becomes our Duty; and where we gave not God the bonour of a timely and constant Obedience, it is a Duty to give him the Glory of an humble Confession. And if this come too late to be accepted, so as to ac. quit and pardon us for all, yet may it be taken in part, and something of the punishment may be abated. However, whether it profit the Sinner or no, 'tis fit we should endeavour, by reminding him of it, that God may have the Glory of his Confef
Gjon. fion. As Foshua admonilhed Achan to confess, and thereby give Glory to God, 70.7.19.
2. An Admonition, such as in that strait could be, must be given. That seeing there had been so fooliíh a neglect, and it was come to this, that it was a great question, whether any time was now remaining or no, between that and the Bridegroom's entrance, they should do however all that could be done for the time. Try what was possible for them to do.
The wise Virgins could not assure them, that there was any Oil to be bought at that time of the Night, nor whether they could meet with those that sold it, nor whether the Bridegroom would be so long in coming, that they might get what they wanted before he was come; but yer because they could not help them as they had desired, they counsel théni as well as they can in so difficult a case.
Here we lee all the comfort that can be admini: stred to a late Penitent, or one that has lived Wickly or Carelesly, till he is now near the time of his Death. Such an one is in a very doubtful condition, and no one can assure him what will become of him. His case is exceeding dangerous, and no Man is able to administer any solid ground of comforc to him. And yet in Charity it becomes us to labour all we can to keep him from despair. All that can be said in so fad a case, comes but to this.
1. That such an one be admonished not to presume that he can be saved upon any other account, but the having a real Righteousness of his own, which way loever he can now come by ir. Chrift himself will not save by his Righteousness, any one thar has not a real Righteousness of his own; that is, who is not lincerely Penitent. All the Saints in Heaven can do him no good, nor if he hath had Righteous and Faithful Abraham to his Father, will it signifie any thing to him, unless he have a renew'd Heart, and chang'd Affections, and be a new Man before he dies.