« PreviousContinue »
he is continually near you, wherever you are, and however you are employed, by day or by night; “ in him you live, and move and have your being." Acts, xvii. 28. Common sense will tell you, that it is not your own wisdom, and power,
and attention, that causes your heart to beat, and
your blood to circulate ; that draws in and sends out that breath of life, that precarious breath of a most uncertain life," that is in your nostrils.” (Isa. ii. 22). These things are done when you sleep, as well as in those waking moments when you think not of the circulation of the blood, or of the necessity of breathing, or so much as recollect that you have a heart or lungs. Now what is this, but the hand of God, perpetually supporting and actuating those curious machines that he has made?
11. Nor is this his care limited to you; but if you look all around you, far as your view can re you see it extending itself on every side; and, oh! how much farther than you can trace it! Reflect on the light and heat which the sun every where dispenses! on the air which surrounds all our globe; on the right temperature on which the life of the whole human race depends, and that of all the inferior creatures which dwell on the earth. Think of the suitable and plentiful provisions made for man and beast ; the grass, the grain, the variety of fruits, and herbs, and flowers ; every thing that nourishes us, every thing that delights us; and say, whether it does not speak plainly and loudly, that our Almighty Maker is near, and that he is careful of us, and kind to us. And while all these things proclaim his goodness, do not they also proclaim his power! For what power has any thing comparable to that, which furnishes out those gifts of royal bounty ; and which, unwearied and unchanged, produces continually, from day to day, and from age to age, such astonishing and magnificent effects over the face of the whole earth, and through all the regions of heaven!
12. It is then evident that God is present, present with you at this moment; even God your Creator and Preserver, God the Creator and Preserver of the whole visible and invisible world. And is he not present as a most observant
and attentive being ? “ He that formed the eye, shall not he see? He that planted the ear, shall not he hear? He that teaches man knowledge,” that gives him his rational faculties, and pours in upon his opening mind all the light it receives by them, “shall not he know?" Psal. xciv. 9, 10. He who sees all the necessities of his creatures so seasonably to provide for them, shall he not see their actions too; and seeing, shall he not judge them ? Has he given us a sense and discrimination of what is good and evil, of what is true and false, of what is fair and deformed in temper and conduct; and has he himself no discernment to these things ? Trifle not with your conscience, which tells you at once that he judges of it, and approves or condemns, as it is decent or indecent, reasonable or unreasonable ; and that the judgement which he passes is of infinite importance to all his creatures.
13. And now to apply all this to your own case, let me seriously ask you, is it a decent and reasonable thing, that this great and glorious Benefactor should be neglected by his rational creatures ? by those that are capable of attaining to some knowledge of him, and presenting to him some homage? Is it decent and reasonable, that he should be forgotten and neglected by you? Are you alone, of all the works of his hands, forgotten or neglected by him? O sinner, thoughtless as you are, you cannot dare to say that, or even to think it. You need not go back to the helpless days of your infancy and childhood to convince you of the contrary. You need not, in order to this, recollect the remarkable deliverances, which, perhaps, were wrought out for you many years ago. The repose of the last night, the refreshment and comfort you have received this day; yea, the mercies you are receiving this very moment, bear witness to him; and yet you regard him not. Ungrateful creature that you ! Could
you have treated any
human benefactor thus? Could you have borne to neglect a kind parent, or any generous friend, that had but for a few months acted the part of a parent to you? to have taken no notice of him while in his presence; to have returned him no thanks; to have had no contrivances to make some
little acknowledgement for all his goodness? Human natyre, bad as it is, is not fallen so low. Nay, the brutal nature is not so low as this. Surely every domestic animal around you must shame such ingratitude. If you do but for a few days take a little kind notice of a dog, and feed him with the refuse of your table, he will wait upon you, and love to be near you; he will be eager to follow you from place to place, and when, after a little absence, you return home, will try, by a thousand fond, transported motions, to tell you how much he rejoices to see you again. Nay, brutes far less sagacious and apprehensive, have some sense of our kindness, and express it after their way; as the blessed God condescends to observe, in this very view in which I mention it, “ The” dull “ ox knows his owner, and the” stupid
his master's crib." Isa. i. 3. What lamentable degeneracy therefore is it, that you do not know; that you, who have been numbered among God's professed people, do not, and will not consider your numberless obligations to him.
14. Surely, if you have any ingenuousness of temper, you must be ashamed and grieved in the review; but if you have not, give me leave farther to expostulate with you on this head, by setting it in something of a different light. Can you think yourself safe, while you are acting a part like this? Do you not in your conscience believe there will be a future judgement? Do you not believe there is an invisible and eternal world? As professed Christians, we all believe it; for it is no controverted point, but displayed in Scripture with so clear an evidence, that subtle and ingenious as men are in error, they have not yet found out a way to evade it. And believing this, do you not see, that, while you are thus wandering from God, “ destruction and misery are in your way ?” Rom. iii. 16. Will this indolence and negligence of temper be any security to you? Will it guard you from death? Will it excuse you from judgement? You might much more reasonably expect, that shutting your eyes would be a defence against the rage of a devouring lion ; or that looking another way should secure your body from being pierced
by a bullet or a sword. When God speaks of the extravagant folly of some thoughtless creatures who would hearken to no admonition now, he adds, in a very awful manner, “In the latter day they shall consider it perfectly. Jer. xxiii. 20. And is not this applicable to you ? Must you not, sooner or later, be brought to think of these things, whether you will or not? And, in the mean time, do you not certainly know, that timely and serious reflection upon them is, through divine grace, the only way to prevent
15. Yes, sinner, I need not multiply words on a subject like this. Your conscience is already inwardly convinced, though your pride may be unwilling to own it. And to prove it, let me ask you one question more: Would you, upon any terms and considerations whatever, come to a resolution absolutely to dismiss all farther thought of religion, and all care about it, from this day and hour, and to abide the consequences of that neglect? I believe hardly any man living would be bold enough to determine
this. I believe most of my readers would be ready to tremble at the thought of it.
16. But if it be necessary to take these things into consideration at all, it is necessary to do it quickly ; for life itself is not so very long, nor so certain, that a wise man should risk much upon its continuance.
And I hope to convince you, when I have another hearing, that it is necessary to do it immediately, and that, next to the madness of resolving you will not think of religion at all, is that of saying you will think of it hereafter. In the mean time, pause on the hints which have been already given, and they will prepare you to receive what is to be added on that head.
The Meditation of a Sinner, who was once thoughtless, but begins
to be awakened.
“ AWAKE, O my forgetful soul, awake from these wandering dreams. Turn thee from this chase of vanity, and for a little while be persuaded by all these considerations, to look forward, and to look upward, at least for a few
moments. Sufficient are the hours and days given to the labours and amusements of life. Grudge not a short allotment of minutes, to view thyself and thine own more irnmediate concerns : to reflect who and what thou art, how it comes to pass that thou art here, and what thou must quickly be !
“ It is indeed as thou hast seen it now represented. O my soul! thou art the creature of God, formed and furnished by him, and lodged in a body which he provided, and which he supports; a body in which he intends thee only a transitory abode. Oh! think how soon this tabernacle' must be dissolved,' (2 Cor. v. 1.) and thou must
return to God.' Eccles. xii. 7. And shall He, the One, Infinite, Eternal, Ever-blessed, and Ever-glorious Being, shall He be least of all regarded by thee? Wilt thou live and die with this character, saying, by every action of every day, unto God, Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways?' Job, xxi. 14. The morning, the day, the evening, the night, every period of time, has its excuses for this neglect. But oh! my soul, what will these excuses appear, when examined by his penetrating eye! They may delude me, but they cannot impose
“O thou injured, neglected, provoked Benefactor ! When I think, but for a moment or two, of all thy greatness and of all thy goodness, I am astonished at this insensibility, which has prevailed in my heart, and even still prevails; I blush and am confounded to lift up my face before thee.' Ezra, ix. 6. On the most transient review, I see that I have played the fool,' that I have erred exceedingly.' 1 Sam. xxvi. 21. And yet this stupid heart of mine would make its having neglected thee so long, a reason for going on to neglect thee. I own it might justly be expected, that, with regard to thee, every one of thy rational creatures should be all duty and love; that each heart should be full of a sense of thy presence; and that a care to please thee should swallow up every other care. Yet thou hast not been in all my thoughts ;' (Psal. x. 4.) and religion, the end and glory of my nature, has been so