Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) online

. (page 11 of 28)
Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 28)
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fures ; partly becaufe cuftom has rendred the
vices of youth familiar to the world, and
partly becaufe many of thofe that are advan-
ced in years, inftead of reflediing on their
youthful vanities with forrow, are yet fo in-
fenfible, as to look back upon them as excu-
fable follies, or as fms of fmall confequence ;
muft therefore an opinion that has fo rotten
a foundation, obtain credit in the world, as
if it were a maxim of undoubted truth ? Does
the holy fcripture, or reafon allow youth any
fuch difpenfation for fin ? Is fo great an evil
to be at any time indulged ? Is any fcope in
vice allowable to the time of youth any more

• Mat. 7. 13, 14. I ' I Tim. 6. 9.

p Exod. 1 J. t. I ^ Pfal, 1. 1, and ver. 6.

^ ProY. 7- 27. I ,


Serm. III. of an early converjion. 133'

than to the time of old age ? Is not fin al-
ways evil, and always to be avoided ? Can
you think it deferves the very bed of your
time, and that your creator is unworthy of
fuch an offering ?

You have heard it fufficiently proved that
youth is the moft proper time of all, and old
age the moft unfit for the great bufinefs of
converfion to God ; that it is the greateft
proof of the reality of our felf-denial, when
we reftrain the vicious inclinations of our
youth, that are fo eager after fenfual plea-
fures : and that an aged finner is fo far
from being likely to be a true penitent, that
the long time he has been hardening himfelf
in his wickednefs, renders the change of his
heart impofiible, without a more than ordi-
nary effort of grace, which God is feldom
pleas'd to grant to them that are grown old
in vice.

Will you fay after this, " God whofe mer-
" cies are infinite, is gracious enough to re-
" ceive us into his vineyard at the laft hour
" of the day, and to give us a place in para-
" dife, if, like the thief on the crofs, we
" begin to repent, when we are ceafing to
" live 5 and we may hope to die happily,
" tho we have lived vicioufly ?"

After having fo largely detedled the vanity
of fuch hopes as thefe, as we have already
done, much more need not be added. Is not
this to build an imaginary happinefs on a
thoufand uncertainties ? And what a daring
K 3 pr€t

154 ■^'^^ reafbnablenefs and advantages

prefumption is it, to continue in fin, that
grace may abound ^ ? Becaufe the gracious
God has given one example in his word, of
a finner converted at the laft hour of his hfe,
is it reafonable for every finner to conclude,
that he may exped: the fame extraordinary
favour, and fo may fafely defer his repen-
tance till he is ready to expire ? No j this
great inftance of mercy in the crucified ma-
lefador, was given to prevent a true, tho
late penitent, from defpairing j not to encou-
rage any bold finner to turn the grace of God
into lafcivioufhefs * by his prefumption. And
how many fatal inftances might be given of
the vanity of fuch hopes as thefe ! How few
of thofe daring finners have arrived at the
time, which they pretended to devote to
religious purpofes ! How very few of thofe
who have reached old age, have become fen-
fible of their guilt and danger after a long life
fpent in the fervice of fin ! Have they not
generally fupinely dozed away their laft mo-
ments, as they vainly fpent their firft, with-
out awaking, till they have found themfelves
in everlaftifig burnijigs " ? Or if they have
received fome conviftions of their guilt, thefe
have not always produced on them the cha-
racters of a repentance to f ah at ion ", but have
fometimes filled their miferable fouls with
defpair and honor ; and their former delu-
five hopes of obtaining pardon at the laft

» Rom. 6. I. I ^ Ifa. 33. 14.

^ Jude 4. I " 2 Cor. 7, 10.


Serm. III. of an early converjion. 1 3 j

hour, have only ilTued in a certain fearful
looking for of judgment and fiery indignation
to devour them '^. Learn therefore, before it
be too late, fo to number your days as to apply
your hearts to wifdom '^.

Will you, after all that has been faid, ftill
perfuade yourfelves, that it is yet time enough
for you to remember your creator ; and that
you may fafely enough defer the fecuring of
your falvation yet fome time longer, if not
quite to the evil days of old age j that it is
beft for you firfl to eftablifh yourfelves in the
world as firmly as you can, and to make pro-
vifion for your temporal intereft ; and after-
wards at your leifure to think on the affairs of
another life ?

.^ Thefe things have been alfo fufficiently
anfwered before ; yet let me farther add.
That as your time is very uncertain on the
one hand, fo your refolutions are yet more
fickle on the other : for how common a
thing is it for men to afTume a purpofe of re-
pentance, and prefently to relinquifli it again !
How often do they violate their promifes to
God and to themfelves, while they are per-
petually fixing a new future feafon of amend-
ment ! So deceitful is the heart of man^ and
fo defperately wicked, who can know it ^ ?

And how prepofterous is the courfe you
take, to endeavour to provide for your bo-
dies before your fouls, and to fecure your

^' Heb. 10. 27. I y Jer. 17. 5.

» Pfal. 5i. li.

K 4 temporal

176 The reafonablenefs and advantages

temporal before your eternal intereft : heark
ning rather to the deluding fuggeftions of
the father of lyes ^, who tempts you with
the gilded vanities of this perifhing world,
than to the counfel of him who is wifdom
itfelf ^, who advifes you wfeek firft the king-
dom of God and his right coiifnefs ; and aflures
you, that then the things of this world, /. e.
io far as may conduce to your welfare, Jhall
he fuper added ^ ?

Since therefore your creator requires your
prefent time, 'tis your prudence, your inte-
reft, and your duty, without conferring with
fejh and bloody immediately to obey him ^ ; to
feek him while he may be founds and to call
upon him while he is near '^, and while he calls
upon you ; left if you perfift to flight and
forget your maker, and his counfel any lon-
ger, he fliould fo rejncmber your iniquity and
'difit your ftns % as to pronounce on you this
dreadful fentence : Becaufe I have called and
ye refufedy I have firetched out my hand, and
no man regarded j but ye have Jet at nought
all my counfel, and would none of my reproof:
I alfo will laugh at your calamity, I will mock
wheji your fear cometh ; when your fear co-
meth as deflation, and your deftruBion cometh
as a whirlwind ; when diftrefs and anguijlo
ccmcth upon you. T^hen jhall they call upon me,
b.ut I will not anfwer j they fiall feek me

•ilfa. 5^.6. Pfal. 32. 6. PfaK

145. 18.
• Hof. 8. 133 14.


» John 8, 44.
* I Cor. I. 24.
> Mat. Pcov. S' i2, IB-

P Luke 19. 41.
'' Pfal. 50. 22.


Serm. III. of an early converfion, 139

in his church, who have honour'd him by
the early dedication of their youth to his
fervice ; and has render'd their fervices as
eminent in the world, as their piety has been
early and exemplary.

As the forward piety of Jofeph kept him
uncorrupt in his tender years amidfl the evil
examples of his envious brethren ^ \ fo he
was bleffed with the largeft fliare in the af^
fedion of his aged father. And tho his zeal
for their reformation rendred him the object
of their hatred, as well as of his father's
love J yet the divine providence wonderfully
profper'd him, and gave him favour in that
ftrange country, whither their unnatural
mglice had exil'd him ^. And as he there
preferved his chaflity when it was try'd ' after
(o extraordinary a manner, that it was be-
come impoffible for him to keep himfelf
innocent without incurring the odium of
being reputed guilty, as well as enduring
other fevere punifhments ; fo the purity of
his untainted foul, who rather chofe to be
accounted vile than to be fo, was afterwards
flrangely clear'd up by the wife and gracious
providence of the Almighty ; and his injur'd
name celebrated with the higheft honours of
the court of Egypt * : the juft and holy God
whom he ferv'd, having endow'd him with
a prophetick gift of interpreting dreams j
and by that divine skill open d a way for his

» Gen. 37. a, j, 4. | s Ver.7— 20.

f Gen. 3 5. a, 3,4, 5,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 28)