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God, and owning our dependance upon Him, may be put
into practice, in one instance or other, every day, every hour
of our lives. And be assured of it, christians, you can do
nothing more pleasing to God, nor more beneficial to your-
selves.

God has given most of us understanding souls. To make
us value this mighty blessing. He now and then sends among
us a poor idiot. Instead of making a jest of such an object
of compassion, let us bless God Who has been so good to us,
as to give us reason ; and let us beg of Him to give us grace
never to abuse it.

He has given you an healthful body. You see many others
labouring under infirmities. Be not unthankful to God for
so great a favour. And if the same good God thinks it best
for you, and for His glory, to visit you with sickness, you
will still have reason to be thankful, if that sickness of the
body shall, through His grace, be a means of healing the
diseases of your soul.

You have a convenient place to sleep in, and you have the
comfort of sleep. Consider how many want one or both
these blessings, and you can hardly forget to give God thanks
every morning of your life.

You have health and strength to labour, and to get an
honest livelihood for yourself and family. Think often of



AND GLORIFYING GOD PUT IN PRACTICE. oil

this, and you will be thankful to God, Who, for good rea-
sons known to Himself, has denied many others this blessing.

Every meal you sit down to should put you in mind of
your dependance upon God for life, and food, and power to
take it. And they that eat without praising God, and beg-
ging His blessing upon His gifts, act too like beasts, and are
in danger of perishing with them.

When God gives us seasonable wealth, favourable seed
times, the former and the latter rains in their season, and
plentiful harvests, how are we bound to thank Him for these
general blessings to ourselves and others! And when He
denies us these blessings, which He never does but for our
good, we are bound, even then, to be thankful.

You are in want of the necessaries of life, and are indebted
to others for help and assistance. What is your duty? Why,
to bless God for your condition, which is the very best for
you (because He has appointed it), and to thank God that
He has enabled others to help you, and for that He has
given them grace, and an heart to do it.

The same gracious God gives another every thing that his
soul can desire : for what end, when others want bread ?
Why, He makes him His steward. He puts these talents into
his hands, and He will fully reward him, if he improves them
to his Lord^s honour, and the benefit of bis master's family.

You have escaped some great danger, or sad misfortune.
The very first thing you will do — which you ought at least
to do, if you have any sense of religion — is, to give God
thanks for your deliverance.

You have been sick, and God has been gracious to you,
and hearkened to your prayers, and the prayers of others for
your recovery. Will you expect that your prayers will be
heard hereafter, if you neglect to praise God for His late
mercies ?

You have the great comfort of dutiful children. Will not
you thank God, every day of your life, for so great a bless-
ing? You will surely do so, when you look into the world,
and see how many parents are made miserable by the un-
happy and bad lives of their children.

In short ; it will be impossible to recount all the occasions
a good christian will have, and take, to praise God for His



318 THE DUTY OF ACKNOWLEDGING AND GLOEIFYING GOD.



[General
Thanks-
giving.]



SERM. mercies ; for all the known, and for all the unobserved fa-

— '— vours, deliverances, visitations, chastisements, and graces, of

His Holy Spirit, vouchsafed unto himself, his friends, and
family.

But above all things, let no man, who calls himself a chris-
tian, forget or neglect to praise God " for His inestimable
love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus
Christ ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory .^^
All our happiness in this life, and in the life to come, de-
pends upon this invaluable blessing, and on our being truly
sensible of, and thankful for it.

To conclude : the practice of this great duty of praising
God for His works, and for His mercies, will preserve in our
souls a constant and lively sense of His glorious perfections;
which will be a means of making us truly religious, and will
make all other religious duties easy and pleasant to us. His
almighty power will make us dread offending Him ; the
sense of our dependance upon Him, and His continual care
of us, will incline us to love Him with all our heart and
soul ; and the grateful remembrance of His past mercies will
make us put our whole trust in Him for the time to come.

May God give us all grace to consider these things ; that
we may with heart and voice join with the heavenly company
[Rev. 4.11.] mentioned in the Revelations, saying, "Thou art worthy, O
Lord, to receive honour, and power, and glory ; for Thou
hast created all things, and for Thy glory they are and were
created.^'

To Him therefore be ascribed all honour and glory, by us
and all His faithful servants, for ever and ever. Amen.



SERMON XXIX.



THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE.



John ix. 4.
The nig Id cometh when no man can work. See Jer. 13.

16; John

If this gracious intimation of our Lord were well consi- " "
dered, it would prevent two very great evils. It would awaken
christians who are too apt to live without thought^ and with-
out concern, as if they had no icork, no business, upon their
hands ; and it would hinder those who know that they have
something to do, from putting it olf till it is too late to
finish it.

Our Saviour's words in the text suppose that every man
has a work of importance upon his hands; and they serve to
warn us of the danger of leaving our work undone till it is
impossible to finish it. "The night cometh when no man
can work ;" that is, death is near at hand, as sure as the
night follows the day ; and therefore, " whatever our hand [Eccies. 9.
findeth to do, we ought to do it with all our might;'' the
consequence of a surprise being most dreadful.

To prevent this, let us consider, in the first place, that we
have all a work of importance upon our hands.

Secondly, that we are hastening on towards death, as the
day does towards night ; and as that approaches, we have
still less time to finish our work.

And thirdly, that our eternal happiness or misery depends
upon our doing the work in the day appointed us to do it in.

I. Let us consider seriously, that every christian has a
work of importance upon his hands.

It is for this reason the Apostle exhorts christians " to phii. 2. 12.
work out their salvation with fear and trembling ;" that is,



320 THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE.

SERM. with a concern suitable to the toork they have to do; of
which work take this short account.



We are all sinners, and must all make our peace with
God, as we hope for mercy. We have renounced the world,
and yet we are apt to love it too well, so that we must labour
hard to wean our affections from it. We are perpetually in
danger of oflFending God, and we must be upon our watch
continually, or we shall certainly do so. We have all, more
or less, contracted evil habits, and it will take time, and carCy
and pains, to get rid of them. We stand in need of the
grace of God every moment of our lives, and are every day
of our lives obliged to pray for the aids of His Spirit to help
our infirmities. We receive favours continually, and are
continually bound to thank God for them.

Here is work enough for any christian; and he that fan-
cies he has nothing to do, or thinks Christianity to be a state
of ease or idleness, does not yet know what it is to be a
christian. But even this is not all.

We have all of us very many enemies to struggle with :
[iPef.5.8.] the devil, a very powerful spirit, "walketh about continually,
seeking whom he may devour," finding them careless and
unprepared to resist him. The world, a very corrupt world,
is always tempting us to follow its ways, which lead to de-
struction. And lastly, our own hearts, if we had no other
adversary, would ruin us, without a constant watchfulness.
So that a man needs not be at pains to be undone : we shall
be undone of course, if we do not labour, and strive, and
make resistance.

But then, besides these general duties, which belong to all
christians, every christian has his proper work, for the faith-
ful discharge of which he must one day answer.

Parents, for instance, stand charged with the care of their
children, to provide for them, and to bring them up in the
fear of God.

Masters are accountable for their servants^ welfare, and that
they live as becomes christians. Servants are bound to be obe-
dient and faithful, and it will require care and pains to be so.

Magistrates stand obliged, and must be at pains, to govern
and to do justice; and subjects must be careful to obey for
conscience sake.



THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE. 321

The rich will find enough to do to watch against pride,
covetousness, and many other hurtful lusts^ "which drown [iTim.c.o.]
men in destruction and perdition."

And the poor, as they have their proper duties, so they
have their peculiar difficulties to struggle with, — to be con-
tent with their condition, without attempting to better it by
unjust ways.

In a word ; all christians are accountable for their time,
for the talents they have received, and for the duties of that
state of life in which the providence of God has placed them.
And such as live as if they had nothing to do, will one day
wish that they had never been born.

But of all employments, that of a Pastor is the most dif-
ficult, the most hazardous, and the most laborious, to dis-
charge it faithfully. To conduct christians to eternal hap-
piness, through a corrupt world, infinite errors, and most
powerful enemies; to teach the way of salvation, without
prostituting the Word of God to vile purposes ; to convert
sinners to God by their example as well as by their ser-
mons ; to instruct the ignorant ; to reprove the disorderly ;
to awaken the consciences of the careless ; to silence gain-
sayers ; to comfort and restore dejected penitents; to visit
the sick, and to answer all the ends of that great work ; to
pray constantly for a blessing upon our labours, and upon
our people, without which all our labour would be in vain.
These are but part of that great work with which pastors
stand charged.

And when we seriously advise christians to remember the
work they have to do, and the account they must give, we
acknowledge, at the same time, that we ourselves stand
charged with a greater burden than they do, and that it
behoves us, above all christians, to remember, "That the [John 9.4.]
night Cometh when no man can work," since we have so
great a work to answer for.

And now you see, good christians, that we have all of us a
work of importance upon our hands ; a work which must, at
our peril, be done while the day lasts. To make us all,
therefore, more concerned to do the work in its season which
God has appointed us, we ought,

II. In the second place, to consider. That we are all

WILSON. y



322 THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE.

SERM. hastening on towards death, as the day does towards the
'— night; and that, as that approaches, ive have still less time



to finish the work we have to do.

The truth is, the sentence of death is already passed upon
every one of us. And God only knows when that sentence
is to he put in execution ; till then, Re has allowed us time
to prepare for an everlastifig state that must follow ; a state
of endless misery, if we shall have spent our time ill ; and a
state of unspeakable haj)piness, if we shall have done the work
in its season which God hath appointed us.

We shall do well therefore to consider, that the time of
our life, which is already past, and was not employed in doing
our duty, is for ever lost to us ; which must needs he an
astonishing thought to all such as have spent the greatest
part of their life in sin and vanity, without considering why
God sent them into the world, or what will be expected
from them when they come to account for the time they
have lived. He that has spent his youth in folly and doing
nothing, has no more youth to spend in virtue ; and he that
has never thought of the concerns of his soul, till a few days
before he comes to die, has but a few days in which to pro-
vide for eternity. Now, this is a consideration which should
make christians very serious indeed.

If a man in his worldly affairs has made an ill bargain,
time, and advice, and future care, may set all straight again,
and the loss may be made up. If a man has spent a good
estate, he has this comfort however, that he shall not always
live to be reproached for his bad husbandry. But what
amends can be made, what arguments can be made use of,
to comfort a person who has lived an unthoughtful, useless,
sinful life, and is just going to give an account of his talents,
and the use he has made of them ?

Christians would do well to lay these things to heart, and
not to trust the endless welfare of their souls to such uncer-
tainties as are the number of our days, which God only
knows, and Who may be provoked to shorten them when
men make so ill use of them.

In short ; we are no sooner out of the hands of our Maker,

but we are upon our way to the grave ; we do, as St. Paul

[1 Cor. 15. speaks, " We die daily." Some part of our time, some of our
31.J i- ' J i' >



THE GEEAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE. 323

friends, some of our comforts, are every day going, till at last
we follow them ourselves. I must not say, and then there's
an end of us ; so far from that, that then begins our hajjpiness
or misery ; for,

III. Our eternal happiness or misery will depend upon our
having spent this life well or ill; this being the sentence of
life and death: "They that have done good shall go into [John 5. 29;
life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into ca er- 41.] "
lasting fire."

A consideration so serious and affecting, to such as lay
any thing to heart, that one should need say no more on
this head, if the corrupt heart of man, as we find by sad ex-
perience, did not render this very consideration of little use,
by inventing ways to delude themselves, without scripture,
and without reason.

I shall not now insist upon the delusion of those who take
no care how they spend their time, depending upon the
prayers of those they leave behind them, as if God had
given them any warrant in His Word to do so; or as if
those they leave behind them would be more concerned for
their souls than they themselves were, when they were alive.
Neither shall I do any more than take notice of the delusion
of such as depend upon the goodness of God, without con-
sidering, that God is just as well as good ; and having ex-
pressly declared, that "He will judge men according to the
works done in the body, whether they have been good or
evil ;" He will most certainly do so, though foolish men
should fancy that He will not be severe with them, notwith-
standing their provocations. He has shewed the world that
He can be severe, when sinners go on to provoke Him, by
destroying not only particular persons, but families, cities,
countries, and the whole world, for their wickedness.

But that which I would more particularly insist upon is,
the delusion of depending upon a death-bed repentance;
when men defer that, which should be the work of their
whole life, to the very last moments of it, to the evening,
when no man can work. A delusion so common, that one
cannot be too earnest with christians to beware of it, lest it
happen to them as it did unto Esau, " who found no place Heb. 12. 17.
for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
Y 2



324 THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE.

SERM. Christians, therefore, should be very often put in mind,

. 1 1_ that the terms of salvation are already fixed, which are,

[Heb. 12. " That without holiness no man shall see the Lord." That

14.]

[Acts 26. when men '' repent, tlie}^ should turn to God, and bring

20.] forth fruits meet for repentance." A very dreadful con-

sideration to such as have put off their amendment till it is
too late to be done ! To which if we add such considerations
as these : That the condition of such as defer their repentance
grows every day more and more desperate. That the judg-

[Lxikei3.7.] ment of the unfruitful tree, " cut it down, why cumbereth
it the ground ?" may be passed upon a sinner, when he least

Isaiah55. 6. thinks of it. That the merciful invitation, "Seek ye the
Lord while He may be found," supposes, that there is a time
when He will not be found of them that seek Him ; that

[Prov. 29. " he who being often reproved, yet hardeneth his neck, shall
suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." That the

[Ezek. 14. state of sinners may be so provoking, that though Noah,
' ■■' Daniel, and Job, should intercede for them, yet God will not
hearken to their prayers.

Whoever considers these things, and that God has made
our time short, and our death uncertain, on purpose that we
may begin betimes to consider of our latter end, and be
always prepared for our Lord's coming; that death is ever
at hand, and the consequence of a sui'prise most dreadful ; —
a christian cannot think of these things with any degree of
seriousness, but he must see a necessity either of being pre-
pared for death whenever God shall call him, or of being
undone for ever — which cannot be thought on without
astonishment.

Well then ; what a wise man when he comes to die would

[Burial Ser- wish that he had done, that he ought to do forthwith, " since
in the midst of life we are in death;" since the day wears
away apace, and since eternity depends upon our making
use of our time.

I will therefore tell you, what every man in his senses will
wish he had done when the night comes; that is, when he
comes to die : he will wish, for instance — First, that he had
made a just and christian settlement of his temporal con-
cerns, that lie might not be distracted with the cares of this
world, when all his thoughts and hopes should be upon



THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE. 325

another. 2ndly ; That he had made his peace with God by a
timely repentance. Srd/y ; That he had faithfully done his
duty in the state of life in which the providence of God had
placed him. 4thly ; That he had, in some good measure,
weaned his affections from things temporal, and had loosened
the ties which fasten us to the world. 5thly ; He will wish,
moreover, that by acts of mercy and charity he had entitled
himself to the mercy of God, which, at the hour of death,
and at the day of judgment, he will stand in need of.
Qthly ; That he had got such habits of patience and resigna-
tion during his health, that might render death less frightful,
Ithly, and lastly ; He will wish, that by a constant practice
of devotion, preparatory for death, he had learned what to
pray for, what to hope for, and what to depend upon, in his
last sickness.

This is what every man will wish that he had done, when
he comes to die ; that when the night cometh, he may have
no more work to do, than to resign his soul into the hands of
God, in hopes of a blessed resurrection.

I will just shew you the reasonableness, and the necessity,
of having all these ivorks done before the night comes, when
no man can do them as he ought to do.

And first, for what concerns the settlement of a man's tem-
poral affairs. If we consider the duties of one who is going
to make his last ivill; that he is to take care for the payment
of all his just debts ; that he is to make restitution, if he has
wronged any body ; that his charities ought to be useful, and
as large in proportion as the favours he has received ; that
he is to do no wrong, shew no resentment, leave nothing un-
done, which may as much as possible prevent misunderstand-
ings, quarrels, and lawsuits, amongst executors. Whoever,
I say, would faithfully discharge all these engagements,
must not fancy that these things are to be done in a hurry,
when the night is come, and a man wants time to con-
sider, friends to advise, and power to recollect, his distracted
thoughts.

And if so much time is necessary to settle a man^s tem-
poral concerns; much more is necessary to settle his spii'i-
tual, to make his peace with God by a sincere repentance;
which every man Avhen he comes to die will wish with all his



326 THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE.

S E R M. soul he had done while he was in his health, and could
XXIX
^-^ redeem his misspent time, and bring forth fruit meet for

repentance, — which is the only sure sign of a true con-
version.

In short ; a christian's whole life ought to be a state of
repentance. He ought to see and bewail the corruption of
his nature, which makes him backward to please God, ready-
to offend Him, fond of the pleasures of this life, and un-
thoughtful of that which is to come. He ought to call him-
self to an account daily, and see whether he gets the mastery
of his corruptions, and whether he does not often fall into
the sins he has repented of. He ought to have some good
assurance that he grows in grace, and that he is in some
good measure restored to the image of God, in which he was
at first created. This, I say again, ought to be the work of
a man's whole life ; and he that leaves it to the last mo-
ments of his life, must not expect the comforts of an happy
death.

All christians are most highly concerned to lay these things
[Luke 14. to heart. They should imitate the wise builder, who sat down
'^ and counted the cost, whether he was able, and whether he

was resolved, to go through the work. So should every man
seriously consider what it is he undertakes, when he promises
to be a christian ; namely, that he will no longer be the devil's
subject and servant; that he will no longer follow his own
corrupt inclinations, but be governed by the law of God, and
do that which he believes will best please God. That he
will receive the Gospel as the law of God, without doubting
its truth, or disputing the reasonableness of its injunctions.
That he will obey the laws of God, as the only way of pleas-
ing God, and of qualifying himself for heaven and happiness.
Besides this, he is to consider the difficulties he is certain to
struggle with; namely, a corrupt world, a corrupt heart,
infinite errors, and powerful enemies, which yet he is not to
submit to ; forasmuch as the Almighty God has promised to
defend and assist him.

In short ; if christians could be prevailed on to consider
betimes, that this life is but a short passage to another, which
is to last for ever ; that it is a state of trial ; that our eternal
happiness or misery depends upon our good or bad behaviour



THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR REPENTANCE. 327

while we live here ; that God requires obedience to His laws,

only that we may uot he miserable ; that He requires nothing

of us but what He will enable us to go through, even with

pleasure, if we submit ourselves entirely to be governed by

His Spirit, and by His laws. If christians would consider

this, and that the night of death cometh, when no man can

work ; it is probable they would think of what they have to

do with a little more seriousness than is to be met with ; and

consider things as they have regard to eternity, without which

we shall, before we perceive it, set our hearts upon the world,

forget the only business for which we were sent into it, and,

when we come to die, have no sign of virtue to shew ; and, [Wisdom 5.

when it is too late, repent that we have been unprofitable °'^

servants.

To conclude : The sentence passed upon Adam, and in
him upon all his posterity, after his fall, was this: "In the [Gen. 3. 19.]
sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.^^ Labour, therefore,
is a duty, from which no man is exempt, without forfeiting
his right to his daily bread ; we are obliged to it by this sen-
tence, as we are the children of Adam. As we are christians,
we are obliged to it, in conformity to Jesus Christ, whose
whole life was all labour and sufferings. And lastly, as
sinners, we are bound to it, because, without labour and
pains, we can never be reconciled to God.

It behoves us all, therefore, to take care that this great
business of our life be not put off till it is too late to finish



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 49)