« ÎnapoiContinuați »
that you were ! but, alas! you are not. And do you think you would bear this uncertainty about it, if you did not make light of salvation ? No; you would carefully examine yourselves; you would diligently peruse the scriptures to find out the marks of those that shall be saved ; you would anxiously consult those that could direct you, and particularly pious ministers, who would think it the greatest favor you could do them to devolve such an office upon them. But now ministers may sit in their studies for a whole year, and not ten persons perhaps in five hundred agreeably intrude upon them on this important business.
Oh, Sirs, if the gospel should pierce your hearts indeed, you would but cry out with the convicted Jews, Men and brethren what shall we do to be saved ? Acts ü. 37. Paul, when awakened, cries out, in a trembling consternation, Lord! what wilt thou have me to do ? But when shall we hear such questions now-a-days?
V. The things that men highly esteem, deeply and tenderly affect them, and excite some motions in their hearts : but what they make light of, makes no impression upon them. · And if you did not make light of the gospel, what workings would there be in your hearts about it? what solemn, tender, and vigorous passion would it raise in you to hear such things about the world to come! what fear and astonishment would seize you at the consideration of your misery; what transports of joy and gratitude would you feel at the glad tidings of salvation by the blood of Christ! what strong efficacious purposes would be raised in you at the discovery of your duty! O what hearers should we have, were it not for this one sin, the making light of the gospel! whereas now we are in danger of wearying them, or preaching them asleep with our most solemn discourses about this momentous affair? We talk to them of Christ and salvation till they grow quite tired of this dull old tale, and this foolishness of preaching. Alas! little would one think from the air of carelessness, levity, and inattention that appears among them, that they were hearing such weighty truths, or have any concern in them.
VI. Our estimate of things may be discovered by the diligence and earnestness of our endeavors about them.
Those things which we highly value, we think no pains too great to obtain ; but what we think lightly of we use no endeavors about, or we use them in a languid, careless manner.
And do not they make light of Christ and salvation, who do not exert themselves in earnest to obtain them, and think a great deal of every little thing they do in religion ? they are still ready to cry out, What need of so much pains ? we hope to be saved without so much trouble." And, though these may not be so honest as to speak it out, it is plain from their temper and practice, they grudge all the service they do for Christ as done to a master they do not love. They love and es. teem the world, and therefore for the world they will labor and toil all day, and seem never to think they can do too much ; but for the God that made them, for the Lord that bought them, and for their everlasting salvation, they seem afraid of taking too much pains. Let us preach to them as long as we will, we cannot bring them in earnest to desire and pursue after holiness. Follow them to their houses, and you will hardly ever find them reading a chapter in their Bibles, or calling upon God with their families, so much as once a day. Follow them into their retirements, and you will hear no penitent confessions of sin, no earnest cries for mercy. They will not allow to God that one day in seven which he has appropriated to his own immediate service, but they will steal and prostitute some even of those sacred hours for idleness, for worldly conversation, or business. And many of them are so malignant in wickedness, that they will reproach and ridicule others that are not so made as themselves in these respects. And is not Christ worth seeking? Is not eternal salvation worth so much trouble? Does not that man make light of these things that thinks his ease or carnal pleasure of greater importance? Let common sense judge.
VII. That which we highly value we think we cannot buy too dear; and we are ready to part with every thing that comes in competition with it. The merchant that found one pearl of great price, sold all that he had to purchase it, Matt. xiii. 46, but those things that we make light of, we will not part with things of value for them.
Now, when Christ and the blessings of the gospel
come in competition with the world and sinful pleasures, you may know which you most highly esteem, by considering which you are most ready to part with. You are called to part with every thing that is inconsistent with an interest in Christ, and yet many of you will not do it. You are called but to give God his own, to resign all to his will, to let go all those profits and pleasures which you must either part with, or part with Christ, and yet your hearts cling to these things; you grasp them eagerly, and nothing can tear them from you. You must have your pleasures, you must keep your credit in the world, you must look to your estates, whatever becomes of Christ and salvation ; as if you could live and die better without Christ than without these things; or as if Christ could not make you happy without them. And does not this bring the matter to an issue, and plainly show that you make light of Christ in comparison with these things? Christ himself has assured you, over and over, that unless you are willing to part with all for his sake, you cannot be his disciples; and yet, while you have the quite contrary disposition, you will pretend to be his disciples; as if you knew better what it is that constituted his disciples than he.
VIII. Those things which we highly value, we shall be for helping our friends to obtain.
Do not those, then, make light of Christ, who do not take half so much pains to help their children to an interest in him, as to set them up in credit in the world, and leave them large fortunes? They supply the outward wants of their families, but they take little or no
care about their everlasting salvation-Alas! Sirs, the | neglected, ignorant, and vicious children and servants of such of you can witness against you,
that make 1 very light of Christ and salvation, and their immortal souls.
IX. That which men highly esteem they will so dili| gently pursue, that you may see their regard for it in
their endeavors after it, if it be a matter within their I reach.
You may therefore see that many make light of the gospel by the little knowledge they have of it, after all | the means of instruction with which they have been fa
vored. Alas! where is their improvement in holiness!
how little do they know of their own hearts, of God and Christ, and the world to come, and what they must do to be saved! Ask them about these things, and you will find them stupidly ignorant; and yet they have so much conceited knowledge that they will not acknowledge it; or if they do, they have no better excuse than to say they are no scholars, or they have a poor memory; as if it required extensive learning, or a great genius to know the things that are necessary to salvation. 0! if they had not made light of these things; if they had bestowed but half the pains upon them which they have taken to understand matters of trade and worldly business, they would not be so grossly ignorant as they are! When men that can learn the hardest trade in a few years, when men of bright parts, and perhaps considerable learning, after living so many years, are still mere novices in matters of religion, and do not so much as know the terms of life according to the gospel, is it not plain that they care but little about these things, and that they make light of the Son of God, and all his inestimable, immortal blessings?
Thus I have offered you sufficient matter of conviction in this affair. And what is the result? Does not conscience smite some of you by this time, and say, “I am the man that have made light of Christ and his gos. pel ?" If not, upon what evidence are you acquitted ? Some of you, I doubt not, can say, in the integrity of your hearts, “Alas! I am too careless about this important affair, but God knows I am often deeply concerned about it ; God knows that if ever I was in earnest about any thing in all my life, it has been about my everlasting state ; and there is nothing in all the world that habitually lies so near my heart.” But are there not some of you whom conscience does not accuse of this crime of too much carelessness about the gospel, not because you are innocent, but because you make so very light of it, that you will make no thorough search into it? and does not this alone prove you guilty ? I beseech such to consider the folly of your conduct. Do you then think to excuse your crime, by being careless whether you are guilty of it or not? Can you avoid the precipice by shutting your eyes? If you discover your sin now, it may be of unspeakable service, but if you
now shut your eyes you must see it hereafter, when it will be too late ; when your conviction will be your punishment. I beseech you also to consider the dreadful evil of your conduct jū making light of a Savior. And here I shall offer such arguments to expose its ago gravations as I am sur cannot fail to convince and astonish you, if you act like men of reason and understanding.
1. Consider you make light of him who did not make light of you, when you deserved his final neglect of you. You were worthy of nothing but contempt and abhor. rence from him. As a man you are but a worm to God, and as a sinner you are viler than a toad or a serpent. Yet Christ was so far from making light of you, that he left his native heaven, became a man of sorrows, and died in the most exquisite agonies, that a way might be opened for the salvation of your miserable soul : and can you make light of him after all his regard to you? What miracles of love and mercy has he shown towards you! and can you neglect him after all ? Angels, who are less concerned in these things than we, cannot but pry into them with delightful wonder, 1 Peter i. 12, and shall sinners who have the most intimate personal concern in them, make light of them? This is a crime more than devilish ; for the devils never had a Savior offered to them, and consequently never could despise him. And can you live in a carelessness of Christ all your days, and yet feel no remorse?
II. Consider you make light of matters of the greatest excellency and importance in all the world. Oh, sirs, you know not what it is that you slight ; had you known these things you would not have ventured to make light of them for ten thousand worlds. As Christ said to the woman of Samaria, If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that speaketh to thee, thou wouldest have asked of him living water : John iv. 13. Had the Jews known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory: 1 Cor. ii. 8. So, had you known what Jesus is, you would not have made light of him ; he would have been to you the most important being in the universe. O! had you been
one day in heaven, and seen and felt the happiness there ! or had you been but one hour under the agonies of hell, you could never more have trifled with salvation.