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communion with God in every one of them; and still press forward to the full enjoyment of God in heaven through eternity.
Resolve, also, through grace, that you will in a spe. cial manner, mind secret duties, which the eyes of men do not observe, and these duties which conscience doth most challenge you for neglecting. And you that are heads of families, resolve to make more conscience of family-religion, of worshipping God with your families both morning and evening, instructing your children and servants in the knowledge of Christ, and recommending religion and godliness to all round about you, whether relations or strangers.
And if you would have your resolutions effectual, see that they be accompanied with a deep sense of your insufficiency to perform them in your own strength. Bear always in mind the corruption and deceitfulness of your own heart, and make all your resolutions in a humble dependance on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ
your Surety. Observe the apostle Paul's advice to bis Ison Timothy, 2 Tim. ii. 1. "Be strong in the grace
that is in Jesus Christ.” All your stock, o believer, is in his hand, so that without him. you can do nothing; but through Christ strengthening you, you are able to do all things.
Direct. VI. Set your house in order, by making your
latter wills, and settling your domestic and secular affairs, while you have freedom and capacity for do
ing it. AFTER the heart is set in order, the next work
is to set your house in order, according to God's counsel to Hezekiah, Isa, xxxviii. 1. It is recorded of the patriarch Abraham, that he was careful to settle the affairs of his family before his death, Gen. xxv. 5, 6. He disposed of his estate to Isaac, and legacies to the sons of his concubines. It is too general a fault that
men delay and put off making their wills, as they do their repentanee, to the very last, and so too frequent ly never make them at all. Consider the evil of deferring or neglecting this necessary affair: For if you, upon whom God hath bestowed means, should die intestate, your estate may descend otherwise than you intended; much of it may be spent in tedious and expensive law, suits; such differences may fallout among relations that should live in friendship and mutual af fection, as cannot be healed; some of them may be reduced to extreme want, when a small legacy might have put them in a way of living; and many such inconveniences may follow. Well then, if your neglect should bring on these evils, and involve posterity in endless strifes, and contentions ; may you not justly fear that the guilt thereof will pursue you into ano. ther world, whose wretched carelessness was the occasion of all that mischief?
Pray, what is the reason that men put off this affair? Is it not, because they do not incline to think so seriously on death, as this will occasion them to do? Doth pot this smell of abominable earthly-mindedness, and speak as if a man desired all his portion in this life, and cared not for a better? and that be is so far from preparing for death, that he cannot endure to think of it! Alas that this worldly disposition should so far prevail amongst us! But surely there is no wise man will say, that the putting off the thoughts of death will keep death at the greater distance; or that preparing for death, or making our wills, will bring on death the sooner.
It were surely best to order our affairs timeously; yea, do it in time of health, rather than to delay unto a sick-bed or a death-bed; for either you may be snatched off suddenly, and have no time for it; or you may be taken with such a distemper as shall seize your tongue, so as you cannot express your mind; or seize your understanding, so as you cannot rationally dispose of your effects. And though none of these should hap
pen, yet certainly it proves a great disturbance to a dying man, to be casting up, ordering and settling the affairs of his family, when he should be securing a heavenly mansion for his soul, and clearing up his evidences thereunto. It is great wisdom to put this affair byhand, that you may have as little to do with the world as may be, and all occasions of distraction to your immortal soul may be prevented, when it is near to its flitting into an eternal and unchangeable state.
Moreover, in settling your secular affairs, observe these following advices: i. Make your wills cheerfully, and freely lay down whatever you enjoy, when God calls you to it. Praise God that you had these things while you needed them; and when you have no longer use for them, leave them without repining, to these that come after you. Look not back to Egypt, when you are upon your march to Canaan.
2dly, see that you deal justly, in providing your family, paying all your just debts, and making restitution if you have wronged any. Abhor all designs of defrauding any of your lawful creditors. For, if your last act should be unjust, you leave a blot upon your name here; and since you cannot repent of this wickedness, it being among your last deeds, you expose yourselves, to a fearful doom in the world whether you are going.
3dly, In settling your estates, see that God and good uses be not forgot nor left out. When you are leaving the world, and can glorify God no longer here by your words or actions, see to honour the Lord with your substance, by leaving some part thereof to a pious and charitable use. I know, it is a work of charity to give for maintaining the bodies of the poor; and especially the poor of God's people, who belong to his family. But it is much more pious and charitable, to leave somewhat for propagating Christian knowledge in dark places, for educating poor children to read the scriptures, and instructing ignorant souls in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is much to be lamented, that so many rich men.among us die, and leave nothing to such pious uses. The liberality of Papists on their deathbed, may give a sharp challenge to many professed Protestants. O what a shame it is to the professors of the Doctrine of Grace, that the false Doctrines of merit and purgatory should produce so many donations and mortifications among the Papists, and the faith of Christ's most glorious gospel should not do the like among true believers ! Shall the proud conceit of merit, and the imaginary fear of purgatory, prompt men to do more this way than the certain persuasion of the love of God, in Christ, and the well grounded hope of eternal life through the alone merits of Jesus Christ? Q what a reproach is this to our holy religion ?
4thly, It might be much to the glory of God and good of souls, that a great part of our testaments and latter wills should consist of solemn charges, exhortations and blessings to our children, or those to whom we bequeath any legacy; so as they can never open our testaments, or look into them, but they might hear something that may make impressions on their souls for their spiritual edification, and for quickening them to the diligent practice of both family and per sonal godliness.
CHAP. II. CONTAINING SOME PARTICULAR DIRECTIONS TO THESE
WHO ARE SHARPLY AFFLICTED WITH SICKNESS AND
Direct. 1. Justify God in the greatest afflictions which
befal you. THOUGH God should condemn you, see that
you acquit him, and say, he is righteous in all bis dealings. When the church: was under the heaviest distress, she finds cause to justify God, Lam. i. 18. " the Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against his commandment.” So doth godly Nehemiab, Neh. ix. 83. “Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly.” The same doth holy David acknowledge, Psalm cxix. 75. “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.” Now, in order to bring you to this agreeable frame, and to convince you of the equity and justice of God in his dispensations, however heavy and long your distress be, I shall lay before you the following considerations.
1st, Consider the infinitely holy and righteous nature of that God who'smiteth-thee, Psal. cxix. 137.'" Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments." We presume it of a righteous man that he will do righteous things : and shall we not much more believe so of a holy and righteous God? We cannot be infallibly certain that a righteous man will always do so; for a righteous man may leave his righteousness, because the creature is mutable: but God is immutably righteous; so that we may be confident of it, that the judge of all the earth will do'right, for it is impossible he can do otherwise, Zech. iii. 5. « The just Lord is in the midst thereof, he will not do iniquity." He will not, he can'not; for it is contrary to his nature.
2dly, Consider that God never brings on any affiction without a Cause, 1 Cor. xi. 30. " For this many fare-sick.” He hath still just ground for the heaviest affliction, from thy sins and provocations; and may always say to thee, as to Israel, Jer. ii. 17, 19. 66 Hast thou not procured this 'unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee: know therefore, and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord." There is still ground enough for aftliction to be found in the best of God's people; and therefore it is said, Lam. iii. 39. For he doth not afAićt-willingly, nor grieve the children of men." No; it is our sins that oblige him to it. As Christ whipped