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SERM. not revealed. And thus I have done with the first
CLXXXII. thing, namely, the uncertainty of the time of the

general judgment, as to all, but God only. « Of
6c that day and hour knoweth none, no not the an-
66 gels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but
" the Father.” I proceed now to the
· Second thing, which I mainly intended, viz.
that the consideration of the uncertainty of the time
should make us very careful to be always prepared
for it. " Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye
« know not when the time is.” In which words we
have,

First, a general caution ; “ take ye heed." Look to it, that ye be not surprized and overtaken by that time. The time being so uncertain, they were always in danger.

Secondly, "more particular directions how they should demean themselves in this case. And our SAVIOUR directs to two things, vigilancy and prayer; “ watch and pray."

Thirdly, there is a reason added to enforce this care and diligence, from the uncertainty of the time as to us : “ for ye know not when the time is.”

From whence I shall observe by the way, the great goodness of God to us, and his singular care of us. That as he is gracious and merciful to us, in giving us the knowledge of those things which are necessary and useful for us to know; so no less in keeping us ignorant of other things, which are not only not necessary for us to know, but which it would be very much to our harm and prejudice, to have the knowledge of them communicated to us. GOD hath acquainted us with whatever is necessary to direct and excite us to our duty; but he hath pur

posely

are n

TO

posely concealed from us those things which might SERM.

licant and CLXXXI. tend to make us Nothful and careless, negligent and remiss in it. He hath not acquainted us with the secrets of his decrees and providence; but hath reserved these in his own power; because it would be really to our disadvantage to have the knowledge of them. If we knew all events before-hand, and how and when all things would happen, we should be too much concerned about fome things, and too little about others; and therefore God hath, in great wisdom and goodness, afforded us the knowledge of those things which are most proper and useful for us, whereby we may be instructed in our duty, and encouraged and stirred up to it. Job xxviii. 28. “ Unto man he faith, the fear of the LORD, that o is wisdom; and to depart from evil, is understand“ ing.” This is the knowledge which is fit for us, and which no man is destitute of, but by his own fault, and gross neglect of himself.

So that God is very good to us, both in revealing some things to us, and in hiding other things from us ; particularly those things which we are speaking of, concerning the time of the end of the world, and the judgment of the great day. Which did men certainly know to be so far off, as it really was in our Saviour's time, and may perhaps now be, it would very much abate the force and awe of it upon the minds of men ; for then men would think themselves safe, till death should remove them out of the world. But when, for any thing we know, the general judgment of the world may overtake us the next moment; this consideration gives a great deal of weight to all the rest, and is apt to strike a particular terror into

men.

SERM. men. What man would not be afraid to offend, if ÇLXXXIII. he did not know but that the next moment he should

be brought to his trial, before a severe and impar.tial judge ? So that for this reason, God hath in great kindness to us concealed this matter from us, and like a wise and good father, instead of gratifying our curiosity, hath consulted our real benefit and advantage.

Besides this, that it is always useful to the world to be kept in awe by the continual danger and terror of an approaching judgment, there seems to have been a more particular reason why our SAVIOUR would have the disciples and first christians ignorant of this thing; for which reason he dis.. coursed so to them concerning it, as that they might rather apprehend, that the end of all things was at hand, and might probably happen in their time. And thus it seems his disciples understood his speech concerning St. John, as if " he fhould not die till « our LORD came to judgment." And the apoftles, in several of their exhortations, seem to urge christians from this very consideration, of the nearness of the general judgment. So St. Paul, Phil. iv. 5. “ Let your moderation be known to all men ; “ the LORD is at hand.” And the author to the Hebrews, chap. x. 25. encourageth christians to constancy in their profesion upon the same account, “ not forsaking the assembling yourselves together, " as the manner of some is; but exhorting one ano. “ ther, and so much the more, because the day ap“ proacheth.” So likewise St. James, chap. v. 9. « Grudge not one against another, brethren, left ye be “ condemned: behold, the judgestandeth at the door." And St. Peter tells us, that several impious men

scoffed

ICO

(coffed at them upon this account, as if the apostles SERM. had been deceivers in this matter, and therefore said, .CLXXXII. « where is the promise of his coming ?" as it were upbraiding them, for putting men in a vain expectation of it.

And it was no inconvenience at all, that the apostles and first christians had this apprehension of the nearness of that time; for no consideration could be more forcible to keep them stedfast in their profeffion, and to fortify them against 'sufferings, than a persuasion of the approach of that day, wherein those who fuffered for Christ should be fo glori. oully rewarded, and those who for fear of suffering fell off from him, should be fo terribly punish'd. And nothing could be more proper and powerful, to.. wean their affections from the love of this world, and to make them willing to part with any thing in it, than to apprehend that there would shortly be an end of it, and then all the enjoyments of it would fignify nothing. So that their ignorance in this mat. ter was, by the providence of God, admirably fitted for the animating and encouraging of christians to a great zeal and constancy in the profession of their faith, and in the propagating of it, as thinking they had but a little while to do this great work in.

And it will be in all ages to the end of the world, a good argument to men to vigilancy and constant preparation; because if they be remiss and careless, the great judge of the world may " come in a day s that they think not of, and at an hour when they u are not aware." But to return to the particulars I propounded to speak to from the words.

First,

SERM. men. What man would not be afraid to offend, if CLXXXIII. he did not know but that the next moment he should

be brought to his trial, before a severe and impar-tial judge? So that for this reason, God hath in great kindness to us concealed this matter from us. and like a wise and good father, instead of gratifying our curiosity, hath consulted our real benefit and advantage.

Besides this, that it is always useful to the world to be kept in awe by the continual danger and terror of an approaching judgment, there seems to have been a more particular reason why our SAVIOUR would have the disciples and first christians ignorant of this thing; for which reason he dis.. coursed so to them concerning it, as that they might rather apprehend, that the end of all things was at hand, and might probably happen in their time. And thus it seems his disciples understood his speech concerning St. John, as if “ he fhould not die till “ our LORD. came to judgment.” And the apoftles, in several of their exhortations, seem to urge christians from this very consideration, of the near ness of the general judgment. So St. Paul, Phil. iv. 5. “ Let your moderation be known to all men ; “ the Lord is at hand.” And the author to the Hebrews, chap. x. 25. encourageth christians to constancy in their profession upon the same account, “ not forsaking the assembling yourselves together, “ as the manner of some is; but exhorting one ano“ ther, and so much the more, because the day ap“ proacheth.” So likewise St. James, chap. v. 9. “ Grudge not one against another, brethren, left ye be “ condemned: behold, the judgestandeth at the door." And St. Peter tells us, that several impious men

scoffed

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