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and counfels, contrived the method of their redemption. It is aftonithing to confider the admirable harmony and glorious triumph of all the divine attributes, in this great project of heaven, for the recovery of loft fouls: It is the "wonder of "angels," Pet. i. 12. the "great mystery of godliness," I Tim. iii. 16. the matter and fubject of the triumphant fong of redeemed faints, Rev. i. 5. and well it may, when we confider a more noble species of creatures finally loft, and no Mediator of reconciliation appointed betwixt God and them: this is to fave an earthen pitcher, whilft the veffel of gold is let fall, and no hand is ftretched out to fave it.
But what is moft aftonishing, is, that fo great a perfon, as the Son of God, fhould come himfelf, from the Father's bofom, to fave us, by putting himself into our room and stead, being made a curfe for us, Gal. iii. 13. He leaves the bofom of his Father, and all the ineffable delights of heaven, difrobes himself of his glory, and is found in fashion as a man, yea, becomes a worm, and no man; fubmits to the lowest step and degree of abafement, to fave loft finners. What a low ftoop doth Christ make, in his humiliation, to catch the fouls of poor finners out of hell! Herein was love, that God fent his own Son, "to be "the propitiation for our fins," 1 John iv. 10. " and fo God "loved the world," John iii. 16. at this rate he was content to fave loft finners.
How seasonable was this work of mercy, both in its general exhibition to the world, in the incarnation of Chrift, and in its particular application of it to the foul of every loft finner, by the Spirit! When he was first exhibited to the world, be found them all loft fheep gone aftray, every one turning to his own way, Ifa. liii. 6. he speaks of our loft eftate by nature, both collectively, or in general: "we all went aftray:" and diftributively, or in particular, "Every one turned to his own way;" and in the fulness of time, a Saviour appeared.:
And how feasonable was it, in its particular application? How fecurely were we wandering onwards, in the paths of deftruction, fearing no danger, when he graciously opened our eyes by conviction, and pulled us back by heart turning-grace! No mercy like this; it is an aftonishing act of grace, that stands alone.
Infer. 5. If there be fo many ways to hell, and so few that efcape it, how are all concerned to ftrive, to the utmoft, in order to their own falvation?
In Luke xiii. 23. a certain perfon propofed a curious question to Chrift; Lord, are there few that be faved?" He faw a multitude flocking to Chrift, and thronging with great zeal to
hear him; and he could not conceive but heaven must fill, proportionably to the numbers he faw in the way thither. But Chrift's anfwer, ver. 24. at once rebukes the curiofity of the queftionist, fully refolves the queftion propounded, and fets home his own duty and greatest concernment upon him. It rebukes his curiofity, and is, as if he should fay, Be the number of the faved more or lefs, what is that to thee? Strive thou to be one of them. It fully folves the question propounded, by diftinguishing those that attend upon the means of falvation, into, feekers, and strivers. In the first respect there are many, who by a cheap and eafy profeffion, feek heaven; but take them upder the notion of ftrivers, i. e. perlons heartily engaged in religion, and who make it their business, and so they will shrink up into a small number; and he preffeth home his great bufinefs, and concern upon him, Strive to enter in at the strait gate.
By gate understand whatsoever is introductive to bleffedness and falvation by the epithet frait, understand the difficulties and feverities attending religion; all that fuffering and felf-denial, which thofe that are bound for heaven should reckon upon, and expect: and by friving, understand the diligent and conftant ufe of all thofe means and duties, how hard, irkfome, and coftly foever they are. The word dyweds hath a deep fenfe and emphafis, and imports ftriving, even to an agony; and this duty is enforced two ways upon him, and every man elfe: Firft, by the indifputable fovereignty of Chrift, from whom the command comes; and alfo from the deep interest and concern every foul hath in the commanded duty. It is not only a fimple compliance with the will of God, but what alfo involves our own falvation and eternal happiness in it: our great duty, and our great intereft are twisted together in this command; your eternal happiness depends upon the fuccefs of it. A man is not crowned, except he strive lawfully, i. e. fuccefsfully and prevalently. O therefore, fo run, fo ftrive, that ye may obtain! if you have any value for your fouls, if you would not be miferable to eternity, ftrive, ftrive! Believe it, you would find that the affurance of falvation drops not down from heaven in a night-dream, as the Turks fable their Alcoran to have done in that lailato banzili, night of demiffion, as they call it ; no, no; the righteous themselves are fcarcely faved: many feek, but few find. Strive, therefore, as men and women that are heartily concerned for their own faivation; fit not, with folded arms, like fo many heaps of ftupidity and floth, whilft the door of hope is yet open, and fuch a sweet VOL. III. PPP
voice from heaven calls to you, faying, Strive, fouls, ftrive, if
I confefs, heaven is not the purchase or reward of your striv-
O my poor, graceless, chriftlefs, miferable foul, how fad a cafe art thou in! Others have, but thou never feltelt the burden of fin; thousands in the world are striving and labouring, fearching and praying, to make their calling and election fure; whilft thou fitteft ftill with folded hands, in a fupine regard⚫ leffaefs of the mifery that is haftening upon thee. Canft thou • endure the devouring wrath of God? Canft thou dwell with everlasting burnings? Haft thou fancied a tolerable hell? Or, is it eafy to perith? Why doft thou not caft thyself at the feet of Chrift, and cry, as long as breath will laft, Lord, pity a finful, miferable, undone, and felf-condemning foul ? Lord, fmite this rocky heart, fubdue this stubborn will, heal and fave an undone foul ready to perifh: The characters of death
are upon it, it must be changed or condemned, and that in a little time. Bowels of pity, hear the cry of a foul distressed, "and ready to perish,'
And you that do not understand the case, and state your fouls are in, have you never a bible near you? O turn to those
places, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. where you will prefenly find the more obvious marks, and characters, God hath fet upon the children of perdition; and if you find not yourself in that catalogue, among the unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, ex. tortioners, &c. then turn to John iii. 3. and folemnly ask thy own foul this question, Am I born again? Am I a new creature, or still in the fame condition I was born in? What folid evidence, of the new birth, have I to rely upon, If I were now within a few gafps of death? Am not I the man, or woman, who lives in the very fame fins which the word of God makes the symptoms and characters of damnation? And doth not my confcience witness against me, that I am utterly void and deftitute of all that faving grace, and a mere firanger to the rège nerating work of the Spirit, without which there can be no well-bottom'd hope of lalvation? And if fo, are not the tokens of death upon me? Am not I a person marked out for misery? And fhall I fit ftill in a flate of fo much danger, and not once ftrive to make an escape from the wrath to come? Is this vile body worth to much toil and labour to fupport and preferve it? And is not my foul worth as much care and diligence to fecurè it from the everlasting wrath of the great, juft, and terrible God? O that the confideration of the wrath to come, the multitudes all the world over preparing as fuel for it, and the door of opportunity yet held open to fouls by the hand of grace to escape that wrath, might prevail with thy heart, reader, to ftrive, and that to the uttermoft, to fecure thy precious foul from the impeuding ruin.
EPH. V. 16.-Redeeming the time (or opportunity) because the days are evil,
* * Καιρός ανθος χρόν
ed by the moft, doth therefore in this place, earnestly prefs all men to redeem, fave, and improve it with the utmost diligence. In this, and the former verfe, we have,
It, The duty injoined, Walk circumspectly. 2dly, The injunction explained;
1. More generally, Not as fools, but as wife. 2. More particularly, Redeeming the time.
3. The exhortation ftrongly inforced with a powerful motive, Because the days are evil.
Among thele particulars, my difcourfe is principally concerned about the redemption of time, or opportunities, which in this life, are graciously vouchfafed us, in order to that which is to come: And here it will be needful to inquire,
1. 'What the apostle means by time.
2. What by the redemption of time.
1 Time is taken more largely or strictly according to the double acceptation of the Hebrew word ny which fignifies fometimes time, and fometimes occafion, feafon, or opportunity, and accordingly is expreft by xpovas and xaipos, tempus and tempeftivitas: the latter is the word here ufed, and denotes the commodioufnefs and fitnefs of fome parts of time above others, for the fuccessful and profperous management and accomplishment of our main and great bufinefs here, which is to fecure our interest in Christ, and glorify God in a course of fruitful obedience. For these great and weighty purposes our time is graci. oufly lengthened out, and many fit opportunities presented us in the revolutions thereof.
2. By the redemption of time t, we must understand the study, care, and diligence of Chriftians, at the rate of all poffible-pains, at the expence of all earthly pleasures, eafe and gratifications of the flesh, to rescue their precious feasons, both of falvation and fervice, out of the hands of temptations, which fo commonly rob unwary fouls of them. Satan trucks with us for our time, as we did at firft with the filly Indians for their gold and diamonds, who were content to exchange them for glass-beads and tinfel-toys. Many fair feafons are forced, or cheated out of our hands, by the importunity of earthly cares, or deceitfulness of fenfual pleasures: at the expence and lofs of thefe, we must redeem and rescue our time for higher and better ufes and purpoles. We must spend thefe hours in prayer, meditation, fearching our hearts, mortifying our lufts; which others do, and our flesh fain would spend in fenfual pleasures, and gratifications of
+ Εξαγοραζόμενοι τον καιρον.