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their whole lives.

Such truths are these that follow :

First ; that all men are by nature in such a condition, as
will certainly end in their everlasting misery, if they are left
to themselves, and to their own desires and choices. For,
being a race of sinful creatures, and prone to evil, an holy
God cannot take pleasure in them to make them happy, until
their corrupt nature be mended and changed for the better.

Now, God knows, that of ourselves we cannot do this, if
we are left to ourselves and the weakness of our own corrupt
nature and reason; He hath therefore, at the instance and
for the merits of His own Son, promised to help us, to renew
our corrupt nature, to pardon what is past, and to assist us
for the time to come to become such as He can take plea-
sure in.

In order, therefore, to dispose us to close with this great
goodness of God ; to make us afraid for ourselves ; to humble
us; and let us see, and abhor ourselves, for having broken
laws so holy, just, and good, and how liable we have made
ourselves to His just indignation; God has given us number-
less instances, in His holy Word, of His dreadful displeasure
against such persons and places as have broken His laws with-
out fear, and without repentance; that all sinners may see
what they must expect in this or the next world, or in both.
God has also made known to us, that this is not the world
we were made for ; that we are here only in a state of trial,
that our corrupt nature may be mended, and we made fit for
a better life and state when we die. That if this is not done
before we die, we shall be ruined for ever.

To prevent this, God, Who would have all men to be saved,
and to come to the knowledge and belief of the truth, has
sent His only Son from heaven, to let us know His love and
pleasure, and what is necessary to our eternal happiness.



DO xNOt PllOriT BY SEKMONS. 87

And His blessed Son has assured us, that He has made onr
peace with God; that He will give ns all the assistance we
can want to make us acceptable to God ; that God will make
us happy for ever, if we shall strive to do our best to live as
He has taught us; and that we shall be miserable, beyond
what we can imagine, if we despise or neglect these offers of
mercy.

These are truths made known to us in God's Word, for
the direction of our lives, for the confirmation of our faith,
and for the trial of our obedience.

To fix these truths in your minds and memories is, or
should be, the end of all our sermons. And our Lord has
foretold us, that it is Satan who tempts men to neglect, or
forget them, that he may ruin their souls.

People do not consider this power of the devil over the
hearts of those that do not fear God, nor are afraid for them-
selves. But pray hear Avhat our Saviour saith : " The seed Luke 8. ii,
sown is the Word of God. If those that hear are careless,
and not concerned for themselves, then cometh the devil,
and taketh the Word out of their hearts, that they may not
believe and be saved.^' So that you see, it is the great work
of Satan to make you hear sermons and God's Word read to
you with indifference : and that this is one of the h-ue reasons
why people do not profit by sermons.



SERMON VIII.



THE MISERY OF NOT ATTENDING TO THE WORD
AND MINISTERS OF GOD.



important subject ! Grant, God, that I myself may see, and be able to
teach others, the danger of living in any known sin ; of being diverted
from considering our latter end, by the cares, pleasures, or other idols
of this world. Let this truth be ever present with us, that we have but
a short time to live, and an eternal interest depending ; that we may
not squander one moment of this short life in that which will not profit
us in the day of necessity, and the hour of death. let us never lose
the sight of that important hour, for Jesus Christ's sake ! Amen.



Peov. V. 11 — 14.



See Matt.



1 John 4. 6.



And tJiou mourn at the last, when th^ flesh and thy lody are con-
3^51^ 28^' sumed [that is, when you come to die] ; and say, how have I
18, 19; hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof ; and have not

Lukeioiie'; oheyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them
Joiin 20.21 ; that instructed me ?

Acts 13.48 \

20.28; This, good christians, is what I would endeavour to pre-

vent; that when you come to die, your consciences may not
reproach you for having not attended to the Word of God
read or preached to you ; for having not obeyed the voice of
your teachers; for the great number of sermons, admoni-
tions, and reproofs, that have been lost upon you ; for turn-
ing a deaf ear to those who were appointed to instruct you,
and despising their reproof.

You hear, in the words just read to you, what a person,
directed by the Spirit of God, assures you will be one of the
great things that will torment and trouble you when you
come to die, if you have led a careless and ungodly life.
That you will most sadly lament your perverseness, your



THE MISERY OF NOT ATTENDING TO THE WORU^ &C. 89

folly, and madness; and wish, with all your soul, that you
had heard with patience the threatenings of the Gospel, an d
that you had taken the good advice of such as, out of pity to
your souls, had forewarned you of the ruin you were bring-
ing upon yourselves, by disregarding the Word of God, and
the truths of the Gospel.

Believe it, christians, this is the very beginning of sin and
of ruin ; when truths of the greatest concern to us are not
minded; when the means of knowledge, of grace, of faith,
and of salvation, are slighted.

Consider, that Preaching is an ordinance of God, and an
ordinance on which depends, in some measure, the salvation
of the world; for how shall they hear, how shall they believe, Rom.io. 14.
without a preacher ?

This ordinance therefore neglected or despised, this sin
continued in, how often does it provoke God to leave men
to themselves, to withdraw from them His graces and His
Spirit? Upon which Satan takes them under his govern-
ment, and then must follow sin and misery.

You will take notice, that this was the very case of Judas.
Plow many concerning truths did he hear from his Lord and
Master ? especially this one so often repeated, take heed and [Luke 12.
beware of covetonsness. This was lost upon him, because he
would not lay it to heart ; and you all know what followed.
The words of the text were most dreadfully fulfilled upon
him ; he mourned at the last, and left this world in despair.

Christians shoul^ consider, that this matj be their own
case ; that it certainly will be so, if they hate to be informed
and reproved, if they obey not the voice of their teachers .

Now, the things which I would desire you to take notice
of, as implied in the text, are these following: 1st; That all
christians, even the most knowing, will often want to be put
in mind of their duty ; to be taught, to be told of their
faults, their infirmities, and backslidings. 2ndly ; That God
has appointed certain persons, who, at the peril of their own
souls, are to do this — to watch for your souls as they that Heb. 13. 17.
must give an account. 3rdly; That such as neglect or de-
spise this appointment of God, or the ministers ordained for
this purpose, will have reason to repent of it sadly when they
come to die, and to consider what a life they have led, and



90 THE MISERY OF NOT ATTENDING

SERM. what sins tliey have fallen into, for want of hearkening to
— the voice of their teachers.

These truths, one would hope, you do not want to be con-
vinced of.

Every one for himself knows, how very apt we are to for-
get our duty, and the vows that are upon us, and to fall into
sins which we have repented of; how often we want to be
awakened into a sense of the danger we are in, and of the
hope set before us.

Every body, who knows any thing of Christianity, knows
likewise, that there are persons appointed by the Holy Ghost,
as overseers, and to feed the flock of Christ ; to teach, to re-
prove, to rebuke with all authority, to instruct such as oppose
themselves, that they may recover them out of the snare of
the devil.

Lastly ; every christian, who is acquainted with the Gos-
pel, must know the sad doom of such as may know the will
of God, and will not hear or mind it, nor order their life ac-
[Matt. 10. cordingly : " That it will be more tolerable for Sodom and
Gomorrah at the day of judgment, than for such people,"
who do not consider, that when they despise the persons, the
ministry, or the doctrine, of such as are ordained to instruct
them, THEY DESPISE NOT MAN, BUT GoD : SO saith St. Paul
expressly, 1 Thess. iv. 8.

Taking it therefore for granted, that you believe the preach-
ing of the Gospel to be one of those necessary means of sal-
vation, without which you would be either altogether igno-
rant of your duty, or soon forget it, — without which you
would live and die in sin, and without hopes of mercy;
taking this for granted, I will talie some pains (and I hope
it will not be lost) to convince you.

First; Of the infinite danger of living in any known
sin, lest death should surprise and send us to a miserable
eternity.

Secondly ; That the way not to be surprised by death is,
to have death much in our thoughts.

Thirdly ; The great care we should take not to be diverted
from the thoughts of death, by the cares, pleasures, or amuse-
ments of the world.

Fourthly ; That when we come to die, we shall have very



15.]



TO THE WORD AND MINISTEUS OF GOD. 91

different thouglits of these idols of the world, than what we
are apt to have at present.

Fifthly ; That the ill use and loss of our time, which can-
not be recalled, will then be the most tormenting thought to
those who now lead a careless and a sinful life.

Lastly; That, whatever they think of it, this will most
surely be the fate and punishment of those who refuse to
hear and obey the voice of their teachers.

I. In the first place, pray consider with me the infinite
danger of living in any known sin. Now, whoever does so
lives in rebellion against his Maker, one who can destroy
both body and soul in hell. He most ungratefully offends
the best Father and Friend, the most indulgent Prince and
Lawgiver, Who commands His subjects no thing but what is
absolutely necessary to make them happy ; nor forbids them
any thing but what would hurt and ruin them. You despise
the patience and long-suffering of God, Who can deprive you
of life whenever He pleases, and continues you in life only
that you may be converted and saved. You are in danger of
provoking God to withhold His grace, without which you
can never repent, never be saved. You, in effect, renounce
being a subject of God, and choose to be a slave to Satan.
You are in the direct way to atheism — even to wish there
were no God to call you to an account.

This is the very condition of every one who lives in the
practice of any known sin; or who, when he perceives that
he has offended God, does not immediately repent of it, and
resolve to do so no more. And whosoever shall be surprised
by death in this state has nothing to expect but a miserable
eternity.

II. This should convince us of the great necessity and ad-
vantage of having the thoughts of death much at heart.

If christians would but seriously consider, that the sen-
tence of death is already passed upon them (as it really is
upon every one of us), they would be apt to think now just
as they would do when that sentence comes to be put in
execution. Why should I set ray heart upon a world where
I am to continue so very short a while, and where I am sure
never to meet with true satisfaction ? What if God, seeing
me very intent upon the world, and setting up my rest here,



9-Z THE MISEllY OF NOT ATTENDING

SERM. should say unto me, as He has done to many others, "Thou

'- — fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee ?" What

20.] ^ * then will this unrighteous gain profit me ? How bitter
will the remembrance of these unlawful pleasures be to
me ? With what pain and grief shall I then part with
these riches, these pleasures, these idols, which I am now
so fond of ?

Let me, therefore, beg of you to suppose you were now
lying at the point of death.

Would you, for the sake of leaving a better estate behind
you, would you take advantage of that poor man's necessities ;
of this poor man's ignorance? Would you recommend to
your children the way of life you yourself have led ? Would
you not rather tell them, multitude of busiuess has ruined
me ; it has made me forget myself, my God, my duty to both,
and the end of my being sent into the world.

Or if you have led a careless, useless, idle life, would you
not charge your children, as they hope to be saved, not to
follow your example? Would you not bid them, over and
over again, remember the sentence passed upon the unpro-
Matt. 25. fitable servant, " Cast him into outer darkness."

Or suppose yourself surprised by the approach of death in
the midst of a life of pleasures, would you not tell your chil-
dren how sad and bitter the remembrance of such a life is,
when one comes to die ? That you have, by leading such a
life, lived in an utter forgetfulness of God ; done little or no
good in your generation ; lost all the principles of a christian
hfe j so fixed your heart and soul on these vanities, that you
cannot raise your thoughts to God, nor pray to Him, in this
time of distress, with any hopes of being heard ?

Lastly; would not the most learned man, upon setting
death before his eyes, confess the folly and impertinence of
every study which does not tend to better our neighbour or
ourselves, to glorify God, to mend the corruption of our
nature, and to restore us to the image of God ; which does
not serve to furnish the understanding with heavenly wisdom,
and the soul with devout affections ?

In short, death will come, whether we think of it or not ;
the time, it is true, is uncertain ; but this we are sure of, that
the reason why the unfruitful tree was not immediately cut



50.]



TO THE WORD AND MINISTERS OF GOD. 93

down was, that it niight (if spared a little longer) bring forth
fruit worthy of its place in the vineyard.

III. This shews the great care we ought to take not to
BE DIVERTED FROM THE SIGHT OF DEATH, by a supine negli-
gence, or by the business or pleasures of this world.

Few people imagine, that they shall ever forget they must
die ; and yet how many live to find themselves deceived, and
never think of preparing for death till they come within the
sight of eternity ? It is then indeed they will see their error ;
but who will assure them that it is not then too late ? It is
for this reason, our Lord has made it one of the express duties
of Christianity, to watch continually, lest that day overtake us [Luke 21.
unawares ; because so very much depends upon it. He has '^
also forewarned us, in the parable of the seed sown among
thorns, what are the things which will certainly divert us
from the thoughts of what must come hereafter ; assuring us, [Luke 8.
that an heart possessed with the love of riches, or filled with -'
the cares, the pleasures, or idols of this world, is utterly in-
capable of entertaining any lasting thoughts of another life.

It is true, a form of religion and piety, and some serious
thoughts and purposes, and even good works, may for a time
subsist Avith a life of sensual pleasures, worldly amusements,
and the love of riches; but at last, He, AVho knows what is
in man, assures us, that these will choke every grain of good
seed which His Spirit had sown in our hearts.

Let us therefore be persuaded, by all that is dear to us,
not to lose the sight of death, by diversions which wiU sig-
nify nothing to us when we come to die, but only to tor-
ment us.

IV. For, when we come to die, ive shall have very different
thoughts of all these idols of the world, than what we are aft to
have at present.

You have seen a child extremely fond of his play-things,
and most impatient to part with them : an hour after,
perhaps, he is taken ill, and you strive to divert him by the
thing he was just before so very fond of; but all in vain:
the very sight of them oflFends him. Why now, as sure as
we live, this will be the case of every soul of us, if we will set
our hearts upon things which wiU not satisfy or comfort us
when we come to die.



94 THE MISERY OP NOT ATTENDING

SERM. You are young, and you think a serious temper is not

— necessary. Depend upon it, you will not think so, if God

shall visit you, and bring you within the sight of death. You
will then see the folly and madness of a life spent in sin and
vanity.

You are at present fond of what you call pleasant com-
pany ; you will not believe it, that a time will come when you
will cry out, would to God I had never seen those unhappy
people who tempted me to an idle life, which made me forget
myself, my God, and especially my latter end !

As for sensual pleasures, of every kind, it will be found
[Prov. 23. true of them what the wise man said of wine, " At the last
■-' they will sting like a serpent, and bite like an adder.^^ Their

wound will be mortal.

You lead a useless life ; and you make your mind easy with
such thoughts as these : I have enough to live on, and why
should I trouble myself with labour and care ? I will tell you
why; for this reason, amongst others; because, when you
come to die, such a scripture as this may come to torment
[Matt. 25. your soul, " Cast the unprofitable servant into outer dark-
ness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

To avoid this sentence, there are others so very intent upon
the world, that they make a little religion serve their turn ;
nor will they give themselves time to hear, what their teachers
would tell them, that this is not the world they were made
for ; and that they will have quite other thoughts of this
world when they come in sight of that which is to come, and
look back upon the little they have done towards preparing
for a life which must never end.

V. It is then the ill use and hoss of time will be the tor-
ment of their souls, who now lead a careless or a sinful life.

Most people in health are apt, too apt, to flatter themselves
that they have time enough before them ; and that, as long
as they live, their salvation will be in their own hands. This
[Luke 13. delusion has been the ruin of many a soul. " I say unto you
(saith our Lord), many shall seek to enter, and shall not be
able." This is fair warning to such as will be making experi-
ments, how long they may go on in a careless way of living,
depending upon their own purposes, and the goodness and
grace of God, whenever they shall think fit to ask for it ; not



TO THE WORD AND MINISTERS OF GOD. 95

considering that a time may come, that a time will come,
when by a just judgment, they shall not be able to make one
step towards their salvation, because they despised the long-
suffering and goodness of God, which was designed to lead
them to repentance.

Christians do not consider, as they should do, that we are
in this life in a state of trial ; that this trial is for eternity ;
and that as we behave ourselves well or ill in this life, it will
be well or ill with ns for ever.

He that lays this to heart, will never think his time a
burden ; will never seek for ways to get it off his hands ;
will never imagine that he may spend it as he pleaseth ; will
never live as if he had nothing to do.

Now, that you may set a true value upon the time which
God allows us, in order to have our corrupt nature mended,
and to fit us for heaven, do but represent to your minds one,
who when he comes to die, and looking backwards, can see
nothing that he has done but what must render him un-
worthy of the favour of God ; who has done little or no good
in his generation ; who has done a great deal of evil, and has
no longer time to repent of it, and to bring forth fruits meet
for repentance ; who has done wrong to his neighbour, and
has no time to make restitution ; who is surprised in a course
of sin, in the midst of worldly cares or pleasures, in an utter
forgetfulness of God, and the duty he owes to Him.

One cannot but tremble, when we but suppose such a case
as this, lest it should be yours, or mine, or any Christianas
when he comes to lie upon his death-bed.

And yet it may be so, and it really ivill be so, if we neglect
the means of grace ordained by God to keep us from bring-
ing this ruin upon ourselves.

VI. Particularly, if christiaiis refuse or neglect to hear and
to obey the voice of their teachers.

Most people are apt to believe they know their duty as well
as those that are ordained to instruct them. And the truth
is, the duties of Christianity are so plain and reasonable, that
the most unlearned need not perish in a christian country for
want of knowledge. How then comes it to pass, that so
many christians are in the certain way of perdition ? The
reason is plain ; they do not attend and hearken to their



96 THE MISERY OF NOT ATl'ENDING

SERM. teachers, with that seriousness they ought to do, who would

• '- — ever and anon put them in remembrance of what must follow

their disobedience.

People know their duty ; but they are, the very best of
men, but too apt to forget it. They believe the penalty ; but
are diverted, too often, from laying it to heart. Worldly cares
and business, sensual pleasures, and other amusements, are
the thorns mentioned by our Lord, which choke the word,
and it becometh unfruitful.

Besides this, our corrupt nature is very unwilling to dwell
upon such amazing subjects as must of necessity give great
uneasiness to people^s minds, who are engaged in any sinful
way. They will avoid, they will shut out, the thoughts of
death and judgment, if possible, out of their very memory.

And therefore our gracious Lord, Who knows what is in
man, and the terrible consequence of such obstinacy, has ap-
pointed His ministers, who, at the peril of their own souls,
shall ever and anon bring these things to your remembrance ;
and press you, as you value your souls, to dwell upon them ;
and as often as you forget them, so often to sound them in
your ears, until, by the grace of God, you order your life
accordingly, and bring forth fruit answerable to amend-
ment of life.

And they that neglect to hear these truths from their
teachers will most certainly mourn at the last, and say,
[Prov.5.12.] " How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised re-
proof ;^^ when they come to see what their negligence has
ended in.

How such negligence does end, the same inspired writer
tells us in the following verses : they will be forced to con-
[ver, 14.] fess, I WAS ALMOST IN ALL EVIL. And the observation is
certainly most just. That the profanation of the Lord's day,
and the neglect of the ordinances then administered, is the
beginning of all evil ; and the greatest criminals have been
forced to confess this at the last, when their eyes have been
opened upon the sight of death and judgment, and what
must follow.

And let no christian, even the most knowing, be so con-
Rom. 1. 16. ceited as to think he stands not in need of instruction from
21. '^^' ' ' his teachers, after what the Apostle has declared, " That the



TO THE AVORD AND MINISTERS OF GOD. 97

preaching of the Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation Rom. 1. 16.
of them that hear and believe." And " that it pleaseth God, i Cor. 1. 18,
by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe." ^^'
Intimating, that God has annexed the grace of conversion and
salvation, in a great measure, to the preaching of the Gospel,
to them who close with this ordinance, who esteem, and are
sensibly affected with it, and endeavour and pray to be
bettered by it.

And they that imagine that they know their duty, and need
no teachers, will however stand in need of being put in mind
both of their duty and danger, which the best of men are too
apt to forget, and fall into the sins they have repented of.

And one most necessary grace they surely want (who think
they want not to be instructed), and that is, the grace of humi-
lity, the want of which (or else they understand little of their
duty) will shut them out of heaven.

And now, good christians, if you have attended to what has
been said upon this subject, you will, I hope, be disposed to
come to some such resolutions as these following :

' I will no longer flatter myself, that my time is in my own
power; this short and uncertain time of life is my time of
trial, of grace, and of fitting myself for heaven and happiness :



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 9 of 49)