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THE GREAT DANGER OF DELAYING OUR
JOHN ix. 4.
THE NIGHT COMETH, WHEN NO MAN CAN WORK.a
F this gracious intimation of our Lord
were well confidered, it would prevent two very great evils. It would awaken Chriftians who are too apt to live without thought, and without concern, as if they had no work, no business, upon their hands; and it would hinder those, who know that they have fomething to do, from putting it off till it is too late to finish it.
Our Saviour's words in the text suppose that every man has a work of importance upon his hands; and they serve to warn us of the danger of leaving our work undone, till it is impoffible to finish it. The night cometh, when no man can work; that is, death is near as hand, as fure as the night follows the day; and therefore, whatever our hand findeth to do, we ought to do it with all our
• See John xii. 35. Jer. xiii. 16. Ecclef. ix. 10.
might; the confequence of a furprize being moft dreadful.
To prevent this, let us confider, in the first place, that we have all a work of importance upon our hands.
2dly. That we are haftening on towards death, as the day does towards night; and as THAT approaches, we have ftill lefs time to finish our work. And,
3dly. That our eternal happiness or mifery depends upon our doing the work in the day appointed us to do it in.
1. Let us confider seriously, that every Chrif tian has a work of importance upon his hands.
It is for this reason the apoftle exhorts Christians to work out their falvation with fear and trembling; that is, with a concern fuitable to the work they have to do; of which work take this fhort account.
We are all finners, and must all make our peace with God, as we hope for mercy. We have renounced the world, and yet we are apt to love it too well; fo that we must labour hard to wean our affections from it. We are perpetually in danger of offending God, and we must be upon our watch continually, or we shall certainly do fo. We have all, more or lefs, contracted evil habits, and it will take time, and care, and pains, to get rid of them. We stand in need of the grace of God every moment of our lives, and are every day of
Phil, ii. 12.
our lives obliged to pray for the aids of his Spirit to help our infirmities. We receive favours continually, and are continually bound to thank God for them.
Here is work enough for any Christian; and he that fancies he has nothing to do, or thinks Christianity to be a state of ease or idleness, does not yet know what it is to be a Chriftian. But even this is not all.
We have all of us very many enemies to ftruggle with. The devil, a very powerful fpirit, walketh about continually, feeking whom he may devour, finding them careless and be unprepared to refift him. The world, a very corrupt world, is always tempting us to follow its ways, which lead to deftruction. And laftly, our own hearts, if we had no other adversary, would ruin us, without a conftant watchfulness. So that a man needs not be at pains to be undone; we fhall be undone of course, if we do not labour, and strive, and make resistance.
But then, besides thefe general duties, which belong to all Chriftians, every Christian has his proper work, for the faithful discharge of which he must one day answer.
Parents, for instance, ftand charged with the care of their children, to provide for them, and to bring them up in the fear of God.
Mafters are accountable for their fervants' welfare, and that they live as become Chrif
CI Pet. v. 8.
tians. Servants are bound to be obedient and faithful, and it will require care and pains to be fo.
Magiftrates ftand obliged, and must be at pains, to govern and to do juftice; and Subjects must be careful to obey for confcience fake.
The rich will find enough to do to watch against pride, covetoufness, and many other hurtful lufts, which drown men in deftruction and perdition.
And the poor, as they have their proper duties, fo they have their peculiar difficulties to struggle with, to be content with their condition, without attempting to better it by unjust ways.
In a word; all Chriftians are accountable for their time, for the talents they have received, and for the duties of that state of life in which the providence of God has placed them. And fuch as live as if they had nothing to do, will one day wish that they had never been born.
But of all employments, that of a Paftor is the most difficult, the most hazardous, and the most laborious, to discharge it faithfully. To conduct Chriftians to eternal happiness, through a corrupt world, infinite errors, and moft powerful enemies; to teach the way of falvation, without proftituting the word of God to vile purposes; to convert finners to God by their example as well as by ther fermons; to inftruct the ignorant; to reprove
the disorderly; to awaken the consciences of the careless; to filence gainfayers; to comfort and restore dejected penitents; to visit the fick, and to answer all the ends of that great work; to pray conftantly for a bleffing upon our labours, and upon our people, without which all our labours would be in vain: thefe are but part of that great work with which Paftors ftand charged.
And when we seriously advise Christians to remember the work they have to do, and the account they must give, we acknowledge, at the fame time, that we ourselves ftand charged with a greater burthen than they do, and that it behoves us, above all Chriftians, to remember, that the night cometh when no man can work, fince we have fo great a work to answer for.
And now you fee, good Christians, that we have all of us a work of importance upon our hands; a work which muft, at our peril, be done while the day lafts. To make us all, therefore, more concerned to do the work in its feason which God has appointed us, we ought,
In the second place, to confider, That we are all haftening on towards death, as the day does towards night; and that as THAT approaches, we have fill less time to finish the work we have to do.
The truth is, the fentence of death is already passed upon every one of us; and God