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should sometimes think of the grave, the thoughts of old age should continually dwell in the same.
The prerogative of infancy is innocency; of childhood, reverence; of manhood, maturity; and of old age, wisdom.
And seeing then that the chiefest properties of wisdom are to be mindful of things past, careful for things present, and provident for things to come; use now the privilege of nature's talent, to the benefit of your own soul, and procure hereafter to be wise in welldoing, and watchful in the foresight of future harms. To serve the world you are now unable; and though you were able, yet you have little cause to be willing, seeing that it never gave you but an unhappy welcome, a hurtful entertainment, and now doth abandon you with an unfortunate farewell.
You have long sowed in a field of flint, which could bring nothing forth but a crop of cares, and afflictions of spirit; rewarding your labours with remorse, and affording, for your gain, eternal danger.
It is now more than a seasonable time to alter the course of so unthriving a husbandry, and to enter into the field of God's church, in which, sowing the seed of repentant sorrow, and watering them with the tears of humble contrition, you may hereafter reap a more beneficial harvest, and gather the fruits of everlasting comfort.
Remember, I pray you, that your spring is spent, your summer overpast, you are now arrived at the fall of the leaf; yea, and winter colours have long since stained your hoary head.
“ Be not careless," saith St. Augustine, “though our
loving Lord bear long with offenders; for the longer he “ stays, not finding amendment, the sorer he will scourge 6 when he comes to judgment; and his patience in so strong
forbearing, is only to lend us respite to repent, and not in “ any wise to enlarge us leisure to sin."
He that is tossed with variety of storms, and cannot come to his desired port, maketh not much way, but is much turmoiled. So he, that hath passed many years, and purchased little profit, hath a long being, but a short life: for
life is more to be measured by welldoing than by number of years; seeing that most men by many days do but procure many deaths, and others in short space attain to the life of infinite ages. What is the body without the soul but a corrupt carcass ? and what is the soul without God but a sepulchre of sin ?
If God be the way, the life, and the truth, he that goeth without him strayeth; and he that liveth without him dieth ; and he that is not taught by him erreth.
Well saith St. Augustine, “ God is our true and chiefest “ life, from whom to revolt is to fall; to whom to return " is to rise; and in whom to stay is to stand sure."
God is he, from whom to depart is to die; to whom to repair is to revive; and in whom to dwell is life for ever. Be not then of the number of those that begin not to live till they be ready to die: and then, after a foe's desert, come to crave of God a friend's entertainment.
Some there be that think to snatch heaven in a moment, which the best can scarce attain unto in the maintenance of many years; and when they have glutted themselves with worldly delights, would jump from Dives's diet to Lazarus's crown, from the service of Satan to the solace of a saint.
But be you well assured, that God is not so penurious of friends, as to hold himself and his kingdom saleable for the refuse and reversions of their lives, who have sacrificed the principal thereof to his enemies, and their own brutish lust; then only ceasing to offend, when the ability of offending is taken from them. True it is that a thief
the cross, and mercy found at the last gasp : but well saith St. Augustine, “ Though it be possible, yet it is scarce credible, that he in “ death should find favour whose whole life deserved death; “ and that the repentance should be more accepted, that “ more for fear of hell and love of himself, than for the “ love of God and loathsomeness of sin, crieth for mercy."
Wherefore, good sir, make no longer delays; but, being so near the breaking up of your mortal house, take time before extremity to pacify God's anger.
be saved upon
Though you suffered the bud to be blasted, though you permitted the fruits to be perished, and the leaves to dry up; yea, though you let the boughs to wither, and the body of your tree to grow to decay; yet (alas !) keep life in the root, for fear lest the whole tree become fuel for hellfire. For surely, where the tree falleth there it shall lie, whether towards the south or to the north, to heaven or to hell; and such sap as it bringeth forth, such fruit shall it ever bear.
Death hath already filed from you the better part of your natural forces, and left you now to the lees and remissals of your wearyish and dying days.
The remainder whereof, as it cannot be long, so doth it warn you speedily to ransom your former losses; for what is age but the calends of death ? and what importeth your present weakness but an earnest of your approaching dissolution ? You are now embarked in your final voyage, and not far from the stint and period of your course.
Be not therefore unprovided of such appurtenances as are behoveful in so perplexed and perilous a journey; death itself is very fearful, but much more terrible in respect of the judgment it summoneth us unto.
If you were now laid upon your departing bed, burdened with the heavy load of your former trespasses, and gored with the sting and prick of a festered conscience; if you felt the cramp of death wresting your heartstrings, and ready to make the rueful divorce between body and soul; if you lay panting for breath, and swimming in a cold and pale sweat, wearied with struggling against your deadly pangs, O what would you give for an hour's repentance; at what a rate would you value a day's contrition! then worlds would be worthless in respect of a little respite; a short truce would seem more precious than the treasures of an empire; nothing would be so much esteemed as a short time of truce, which now by days, and months, and years, is most lavishly mispent.
O how deeply would it wound your woful heart, when. looking back into your former life, you considered many
heinous and horrible offences committed, many pious works and godly deeds omitted, and neither of both repented, your service to God promised, and not performed !
O, how inconsolable were your case, your friends being fled, your senses affrighted, your thoughts amazed, your memory decayed, and your whole mind aghast, and no part able to perform what it should ; but only your guilty conscience pestered with sin, that would continually upbraid you with many bitter accusations !
0, what would you think then, being stripped out of this mortal weed, and turned both out of service and houseroom of this wicked world, you are forced to enter into uncouth and strange paths, and with unknown and ugly company, to be convented before a most severe judge, carrying in your conscience your indictment, written in a perfect register of all your misdeeds, when you shall see him prepared to give sentence upon you, against whom you have so often transgressed, and the same to be your umpire, whom by so many offences you have made your enemy, when not only the Devil, but even the angels would plead against you, and your ownself, in despite of yourself, be your own most sharp impeacher !
O, what would you do in these dreadful exigents, when you saw the ghastly dragon, and huge gulf of hell, breakin gout with most fearful flames; when you heard the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, the rage of those hellish monsters, the horror of the place, the terror of the company, and the eternity of all those torments ! Would you then think them wise
then think them wise that should delay in so weighty matters, and idly play away the time allotted, to prevent these intolerable calamities? would you then count it secure, to nurse in your own bosom so many serpents as sins, and to foster in your soul so many malicious accusers, as mortal and horrible offences ? would you not think one life too little to repent in for so many and so great iniquities, every one whereof were enough to throw you
into those unspeakable and intolerable torments ?
And why then (alas!) do you not at the least devote that
small remnant, and surplusage of these your latter days, procuring to make an atonement with God; and to free your soul and conscience from that corruption which by your fall hath crept into it? Those very eyes that behold and read this discourse, those very ears that are attentive to hear it, and that very understanding that considereth and conceiveth it, shall be cited as certain witnesses of these rehearsed things. In your own body shall you experience these deadly agonies, and in your soul shall you feelingly find these terrible fears; yea, and your present estate is in danger of the deepest harms, if you do not the sooner recover yourself into that fold and family of God's faithful servants.
What have you got by being so long a customer to the world, but false ware, suitable to the shop of such a merchant, whose traffick is toil, whose wealth is trash, and whose gain is misery? What interest have you reaped, that might equal your detriment in grace and virtue? or what could you find in the vale of tears, that was answerable to the favour of God, with loss whereof you were contented to
You cannot now be inveigled with the passions of youth, which, making a partiality of things, sets no distance between counterfeit and current; for these are now worn out of force, by tract of time are fallen into reproof, by trial of their folly.
0 let not the crazy cowardice of flesh and blood daunt the prowess of an intelligent person, who by his wisdom cannot but discern how much more cause there is, and how much more needful it is, to serve God than this wicked world !
But if it be the ungrounded presumption of the mercy of God, and the hope of his assistance at the last plunge, (which indeed is the ordinary lure of the Devil to reclaim sinners from the pursuit of repentance :) alas ! that is too palpable a collusion to mislead a sound and sensible man, howsoever it may prevail with sick and ill-affected judgments. Who would rely in eternal affairs upon the gliding