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your felves, with hardness and blindness of heart, and whether this Judgment be not more frequent than the World is aware of, and whether you do not participate of that Judgment? Hear this, all ye that carry Rational, Angelical Souls in your Breafts, Confider your ways. Confider what enflaving your Souls to vicious affections will come to, and whether they will not thrive better, being irradiated with Heavenly Light, than warmed by Hellish Lufts; and whether it will not be more for your credit to advance them to their primitive luftre and beauty, than lose them by fin and vanity. Sirs, you ftand upon the brink of a bottomlefs pit; who but a Man, whose brains are crack'd, would not look about himself> The least push or thruft fends you thither; Who would not take fome pains to get into a Harbour: The Ship is ready to be caft away, the Mafts are fplit, it's leaking on every fide; who would not lay hold of a plank to fave himself from drowning? If you know not what to do with that power of Confideration God hath given you, marvel not if God takes it away; and fince you will not bethink your felves how to be freed from fin and mifery, protests in his anger, that you fhall not be able to make use of that power any more, in order to obtain Eternal Life; fince you will not take up that Sword of the Spirit, to cut the Cords of Sin and Difobedience, no wonder if God blunts and dulls the edge of it, that it fhall be of no use to you, when you would employ it. O Christians, there is no jefting with a merciful God; where the greatest mercy is fcorned and
and rejected, What can ye expect but the feverest Judgments? Be wife therefore, before the black Decree be irreversibly Signed and Sealed against you; you'll bless the hour and the day which bears the Date of your entire and fincere agreement to God's Will in this particular; and when you fhall find, by bleffed experience, that this serious Confideration of your ways is the Gate to Paradife, you'll admire the Bounty, Wisdom, and Goodnefs of God, that moved your hearts to embrace the motion, and you will not be able to forbear breaking out into finging the Song of Moses, and the Song of the Lamb, Blessing, Honour, and Glory be unto Him that fits upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Of Retirement and Prayer, the two great helps to Confideration. Retirement proved to be necessary to make Confideration of our Spiritual state more quick and lively. Prayer calls in the affiftance of God's Spirit, and renders the work effectual. A Form of Prayer to be used upon this occafion.
Will Charitably fuppofe, that the preceding Exhortation may have made fome impreffion upon my Reader, and made him in fome meafure, willing to think more of his Soul, and of the danger it is in, and of his Eternal State, than formerly he used to do; and therefore to fhew him how this Confideration must be managed,
that it may
I. Retirement. Though I readily grant, (and do commend it too) that Men, as they are walking with others, or travelling, or going abroad about their necessary occafion, or standing in their Shops, or other Rooms, where company goes in and out, may think, that the course they have taken hitherto is not safe, and therefore it's high time to change and alter it: Yet feeing those thoughts are too much diverted by fenfual objects, and apt to go no farther than the mind or understanding, and reach no deeper than fpeculation; it must neceffarily follow, that Retirement is requifite, to make it reach the affections, and to spread it as far as the Life and Convresation.
By Retirement, I do not mean abfconding, or hiding ones felf in a corner in the Country, or in a Wilderness, but retiring in our own Houses. Let the place we live in be never so populous, to be fure we have Chambers to be private in ; and as the Rich may make their best Room a Defart for this work, fo the Pooreft may convert any corner in their Houses into a place for this Exercife; it's not the neatnefs of a Closet that cleanseth the Soul from filthiness, nor the curiofity and convenience of a With-drawingroom, that fits the heart for him that made it; but as Chrift made fometimes a Mountain, fomeDd 2 times
times a Ship, fometimes a Crofs, his Pulpit; fo a Man may make a Meadow, a Field, a Wood, a Garret, any corner of his House, a place fit to retire in, to confider feriously how the cafe ftands between God and his own Soul. I know what Men do commonly object, the very fame thing they object against Confideration it felf,and whereof we have fufficiently spoke in the fecond Impediment, viz. That they have a great deal of bufinefs, and that they can fpare no time for this Retirement. Business, no doubt, must be done, But there is a time for every thing, and a season for every purpose under Heaven, and then sure there must be a time for this Spiritual Retirement too; if there be not, we are obliged to find time for it: He that cannot, or rather will not, had as good fay, he hath no time to be faved; and he that cannot fometimes neglect the concerns of his Body, or Eftate, for the concerns of his better part, derides Salvation, and does not believe, that there is fuch a thing, or if there be, that it is of fo much value, as the Dirt and Dung he grovels in. It's true Manaffes retirement was forced, much against his will, yet ftill it was privacy that contributed much to his amendment; for while he was encompaffed with his Courtiers and Flatterers, and his fawning Crew, he thought Religion a thing below him, and a New Creature but a canting term; but being alone, rone but God and his calamity about him, having nothing to take off his thoughts from reflecting on his Apoftacy, behold how Confideration melts him, his Confcience fets upon him, makes him ashamed of his
unfaithfulness to his God, makes the Tears stand in his Eyes; and fo great is his change, F that he who had exceeded the Nations round about him in Idolatry, and lewdness, immediately takes away all the Strange Gods, and the Idols out of the House of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built on the Mount of the Houfe of the Lord, and in Jerufalem, and caft them out of the City, and commanded Judah to ferve the Lord, 2 Chron. 33.15, 16.
So pleafing is this Retirement to God, that he doth exprefly call himself, Our Father which fees in fecret, Matth. 6. 4. When Christ had a mind his Difciples fhould fee his Glory, he doth not carry them to Jerufalem, leads them not into the Market-place, doth not mingle them with the Multitude, bids them not attend him at Herod's Court; for he knew, these places would rather diftract, than help, their Devotion: But he fummons them to go up with him into a high Mountain apart, bids them retire from fecular bufinefs, leave their fenfual affections at home, feparate themselves from fuch Worldly employments, as were apt to take up their Minds, that their thoughts might be more at liberty to contemplate his Glory, and the Transfiguration might aff &t them more, and make the deeper impreffions upon them.
Come, my people enter thou into thy Chamber, and fhut thy doors about thee, and hide thy felf, faid