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testimony, that by the grace of God we have denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, and have lived soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, we may take joy and comfort in it; for if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. But if, upon the trial of our ways, our case appear clearly to be otherwise, or if we have just cause to doubt of it, let as not venture to continue one moment longer in so uncertain and dangerous a condition. If we desire to know the way of peace, the Scripture hạth set it plainly before us: Wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Though our case be very bad, yet it is not desperate, this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; and he is still willing to save us, if we be but willing to leave our sins, and to serve him in holiness and righteousness the remaining part of our lives. We may yet be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. We, who have ventured so long upon the brink of ruin, may yet, if not wanting to ourselves, by the infinite mercies of God, and by the power of his

grace, be rescued from the miserable slavery of the devil and our lusts, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

Thus I have endeavoured, with all the plainness I could, to represent every man to himself, and to let him clearly see how the case of his soul and of his eternal happiness stands. And, I verily believe, that what I have said is the truth of God, to which we ought all gladly to render up ourselves: for great is truth, and mighty ubove all things; she is faithful and impartial in her counsels; and though she be not always welcome, yet it is always wise to hearken to her: with her is no excepting of persons, and in her judgment there is no unrighteousness.

I will conclude all with that excellent advice of a heathen emperor, (Antoninus) Make it no longer a matter of dispute what are the marks and signs of a good man, but immediately set about it, and endeavour to become

one.

THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS.

181

SERMON XII.

THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS.

MATT. xxv. 1, 2, &c. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened

unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and

went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and fide were foolish,

fc. My design at present is to make such observations upon this parable, as seem most naturally to spring from it; and then apply it to ourselves.

First, I observe how very common it is for men to neglect this great concern of their souls, the due preparation for another world; and how willing they are to deceive themselves herein, and to depend upon any thing else, how unreasonable soever, rather than endeavour to be really good, and fit for heaven. This is in a very lively manner represented to us in the description of the foolish virgins, who had provided no supply of oil in their vessels, and when the Bridegroom was coming would have furnished themselves by borrowing or buying of others.

Secondly, I observe, that even the better sort of Christians are not careful, as they

ought, to prepare themselves for death and judgment. Whilst the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept, even the wise virgins as well as the foolish.

Thirdly, I observe further, how little is to be done by us to any good purpose, in this great work of preparation, when it is put off to the last. Thus, what a sad confusion the foolish were in, when surprised by the coming of the Bridegroom ; and how ineffectual all that they could do at that time proved to be, the parable represents to us at large, ver. 6, 7, 8, 9.

Fourthly, I observe, that no man can do more than is his duty to do, by way of preparation for another world.

First, I observe, not from any particular circumstance, but from the main design of this parable, how very apt many Christians are to neglect this great concern of their souls, the due preparation for another world; and how willing they are to deceive themselves herein, and to depend upon any thing else, how unreasonable soever, rather than upon the pains they take to be really good and fit for heaven: this is in a very lively inanner represented to us in the description of the foolish virgins, who had provided no supply of oil in their vessels, and when the Bridegroom was coming, would have furnished themselves by borrowing or buying of others. They contented

themselves with having their lamps lighted at their first setting out to meet the Bridegroom, that is, with their being admitted into the profession of Christianity by baptism, but either were not sted fast in this profession, or were not careful to adorn it with the graces and virtues of a good life.

And the true reason why men are so very apt to deceive themselves in this matter, and are so hardly brought to those things wherein religion chiefly consists, I mean, the fruits of the spirit, and the practice of real goodness, is, because they are extremely desirous to reconcile, if it were possible, the hopes of eternal happiness in another world, with a liberty to live as they please in this. They are loath to be at the trouble of mortifying their lusts, governing their passions, bridling their tongues, and practising all those duties which are comprehended in those two great commandments of the love of God, and of our neighbour. They would fain gain the favour of God, and make their calling and election sure by some easier way than by giving all diligence to add to their faith and knowledge, the graces and virtues of a good life.

For the plain truth is, men had rather that religion should be any thing else than what indeed it is the crossing their vicious inclinations--the curing their evil and corrupt affections--the government of their unruly ap

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