« السابقةمتابعة »
that holy day? Surely, it will be everlasting bitterness and despair. Is not your soul worth more than your body? and endless ages, than a few short, sorrowful years? If you knew the pleasures of religion, you would think a day in God's house better than a thousand days of mirth elsewhere; and though you may be poor in this world, would find that delight in prayer, and communion with God, which you never found in all your sinful sabbath-breaking pleasures; and which those of the great and noble, that know not God, never obtained from all their riches and honours.
Obj. 3. I might attend to religion, but I have little leisure, and have much else to mind.
Ans. O, my young friend! whatever else you may have to mind, the salvation of your soul should be your first concern. If you were sure of gaining a crown and a kingdom, what would this be, compared with gaining a crown of glory and endless blessedness in heaven? To enjoy this, and escape the damnation of hell, is of ten thousand times more consequence to you, than to gain the whole world, if you were sure you could do it. The Apostle Paul counted "all things loss that he might win Christ;" nor does he now repent of his choice. Would a dying
man say, "I have so much else to mind, that I cannot find leisure to take the medicines, that, under God, may raise me from this bed of sickness?" Would a condemned criminal say, "I have so much business to attend to, that I cannot find time to apply for my par don; or to accept it if offered ?" And shall a perishing sinner say, "I have no leisure to escape from hell, and seek for heaven ?" What will all your studies, or labours, or cares come to, if your soul be lost? You would think a condemned criminal distracted, who would eagerly attend to other things, and slight the pardon offered him. You would say to him, "Secure your life first, then you may follow other concerns with comfort." What is the loss of life, compared with the loss of the soul? what is the folly of the man, who might trifle in view of the gallows, compared with his who trifles on the edge of hell? Secure your soul first; "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Mind this one great business. Let that one work be done, without which you are undone for ever; and then you may comfortably attend to the other business of life. If ten thousand pounds and a fine estate were offered you, would you say, "I have too much else to mind to think of this offer now?" and when God offers you
Christ, and salvation, and glory, and heaven, will you neglect a Saviour, and everlasting blessings, for things, for which you would not neglect a few hundreds of pounds, or of shillings, if offered you by a fellow-creature?
Obj. 4. I see no need of such strictness; and cannot think it necessary to make so much ado to get to heaven.
Ans. You are by nature corrupt and blind, and it is not what you may see, but what the eternal God declares, that should be your guide. Your Judge will not inquire at last, whether you fancied it right to be earnest in seeking the kingdom of God, but whether you listened to his decisions. He says, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Wili you say on your death-bed, that the most prayerful and religious person that ever lived, was too earnest in getting to heaven? Do saints, in glory, think they made too much ado to get there? Do lost souls in hell, now think, as they once did, that heaven was not worth so much care and thought? Do they think you can make too much ado, to flee from the everlasting burnings? O, could you see that world, to which you are hastening, could you know what it is to stand before the eternal God, and hear your sentence from his lips, and could you taste, but for one short hour, the joys of the blest, or the
miseries of the damned, you would think no care, and pains, and diligence enough, in making your own salvation sure.
Obj. 5. I love the pleasures of the world; and when should I enjoy them except in youth? I cannot give them up.
Ans. But has not God declared, that living in pleasure is being "dead while we live ?" Cannot you give up the sinful delights of a foolish world? You must give them up, or must lose your soul. If you will not part with them now, you must at last part with them all, and then also part with every hope, and lose God and Christ, and heavenly glory for them. If you choose them as your portion, remember you choose damnation with them.
Obj. 6. I might follow religion, but it is such a melancholy thing, that I fear it would destroy all the comfort of my life.
Ans. My young friend, what is real religion? Is it not the knowledge of God; and the enjoyment of his love and favour? This constitutes the happiness of angels. And is that, which makes them happy, a melancholy thing? How you condemn yourself, and prove yourself to have "a carnal mind," which "is enmity against God." Who are they that charge religion as unhappy? Are they those who have tried what comforts it can afford? no; they will tell
you they never knew what comfort was, till they found it in the paths of peace and piety. Who is it then? It is a poor, foolish, distracted world; that speaks evil of what it knows not.
Obj. 7. Religion would expose me to the scorn and ridicule of my companions and friends.
Ans. And what is the ridicule you fear? Is it so serious an evil, that, to avoid it, you should run into perdition? Were not the blessed Saviour and his apostles scorned and derided by the world? was not he insulted with profane mockings, even in his dying moments? and did he endure such contempt for you, and will you refuse to endure a little contempt and derision for him? But if you are afraid of following Christ, lest you should be laughed at, think which is worst, the silly laugh of dying men, or the eternal frown of the eternal God? Is it not better to enter the way to heaven, though all the world were to deride and despise you for doing so, than to take the way to hell, though all the world were to applaud your choice! Will you, to avoid the scorner's laugh, lose God, and Christ, and glory?
Obj. 8. I have heard of so many sins committed by young persons who professed religion, that I am disposed to think all who