« EelmineJätka »
SPIRITUAL MAN'S AIM ;
Guiding a Christiun, in his Affections and Actions,
through sundry Passages of this Life.
I COR. vii. 29, 30, 35.
á It remaineth, brethren, the time is fort, let those that have wives,
“ be as if they had none. “ And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that re"joice, as though they rejoiced not, and they that buy, as though
they poffelled not; “ And they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of
“ bis world paleth away."
HE blessed apostle, in the former part of this chapter, had TH
given direction in cases of conscience, being a man that had the tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to the weary: whereupon, (having in his eye greater matters), as his use is in almost every epiftle, he calls them from particular cases, that they should not overmuch trouble themselves about them, but mind the main. “ The time is short, let those that are mar. ried, be as if they were not,” &c. But yet notwithstanding, he gives fatisfaction to the particular cases; for, as in travelling, it is not enough to know that a man's way lies eaft, or weft
, or north, or south, but he must know the turnings and windings the particulars of the way: So, in religion, it is not enough to know that we must serve God above all, and love our
as ourselves, &c. These generalities atheists will embrace; and, in pretence of them, shake off all further study of religion. Our knowledge must stand in clearing particular cases also, which being cleared, the way is smoother to heaven-ward; yet notwithstanding, we must not dwell too much on particulars, for here you see the apostle calls them off_“Finally, my brethren, the time is short,” it remains that we look to the main, &c. “ For the fashion of this world passeth away;" wherein we shall consider two points in general, which I will only name, and hasten to that which followeth.
The first is this, that “ A very good way to satisfy cases of conscience in particular, is to have in our mind the main.
For there be many that puzzle themselves all their life about this and that particular, and forget the main in the mean time, Let a man look to the main, and he will soon resolve in such particulars as these.
Whether it be good to redeem time, to hear a sermon now and then; he will do the thing, and not stand making a case of it; for when he considers how it helps to the main, the saving of his soul, &c. for which he came into the world, he will easily be resolved.
And so for fanctifying the Lord's day entirely, many have scruples, and keep ado ; but if they had the love of God in their souls,' and did look to the main, they would see it to be an idle question ; for how much conduceth it to the main ?
And so for conversing with company—are they such as are comfortable and cheerful? are they such as we may profit by ? No, why do I entangle myself, and hinder the main ? So we see Paul, in resolving the particulars, he calls them to the main. “ Brethren, the time is short;" therefore be in these things as if ye were not, (as we shall see presently in the particulars), “ For the fashion of this world pafseth away." This is the reafon why none but a true christian can carry himself moderately in the things of this world, why? because none but a sound christian hath a main and a chief end, that sways the stern of his whole life; he looks to heaven and happiness, and how it shall be with him afterwards; and he considers particulars therefore, when another man of necessity, muft err in particular cases, because he hath not a gracious aim. You have no
man but a christian, but he lofeth himself in the things of this world. The second thing is this, you may see that “ Religion med.
. dles with all matters.”
With the world, with marriage, with buying and possessing, as we shall fee afterwards. Saith an atheist, (that grudges that his ways should be hindered by that commanding skill of religion which hath to do in all things), What hath the minifter to do with our callings, with lawyers, with tradesmen, or statesmen? What hath the minister to do with these things ?
It is true, not with the materials, with the particular matters of those callings; that is left to those that are artists, that have skill in the particulars of their professions in each kind; but a minister hath to deal with these things, as they help to further the main ; religion is a skill that fits a man for a further end, for his last end, for heaven. Now, being such a skill, it must direct every thing so far as it helps or hinders that.State knowledge, we say, is a commanding knowledge. Why? because it meddles with all trades. How? hath a statesman skill in this or that trade? No, not in the particular mystery; but he hath skill so far as he sees what may serve for public good. Let the safety of the commonwealth be the law of all trades. The state knowledge is the fupreme knowledge, which is for the good of the whole ; therefore it cuts off particulars, if they be mischievous to the whole. So all trades must be told of their faults, as they are blemishes to religion ; for we must not be so in this or that trade, so as to forget christians; and therefore we must hear meekly the word of God, when it meets with our particular callings. We fee Paul meddleth with buying and selling, with marriage, &c. How? as far as they might hinder the main. “ Finally, my brethren, the time is short, and the fashion of this world paffeth away." Therefore be not over. much in these things.
It is the supreme reason, the main reason that makes for religion, as I said before of state knowledge. There is a supreme Jaw; yet though that be fupreme in regard of inferiors, there is one above that. That is the chief law, the chief reason of all that makes for religion ; there be many párticular reasons that make for this and that, ay, but religion faith the contrary; and then that must rule, that is the supreme. Now, I come
to unfold the particulars. The apostle here stands upon five directions and bounds those five directions with three reasons.
1. Let those that are married, be as if they were not.
How are these five directions enforced? They are enforced from three reasons.
The first is in the front of the text. " The time is short." Therefore be moderate in all things here.
The second is in the shutting up of the text. 6. For the fa. Thion of this world pafleth away.
The third reason is a main reason too: that is from their state and condition in Christ. Why “ Brethren (faith he) partakers of the heavenly calling,” as he faith in another place, " partakers of better things ;” and by being brethren, brethren in Christ, members of Christ ; he is the knot of the brotherhood, being born again fons of God, brethren of Chrift; not brethren only among yourselves, but brethren in Christ, and fo sons of God, and heirs of heaven. What? for you to be immoderate in the things of the world?
Paul wraps up a moving reason, not only to insinuate and gain their affection, « Oh, my brethren !” but to add a force of reason likewise. “ Brethren, the time is short ;” and, “ brethren, the fashion of this world passeth away.” So add these three reasons to the five directions, and see how strongly Paul backs his directions. Indeed it was needful, for Paul so to do; we are so desperately set on the things of this world, we are so hardly taken off, that there must be reason upon reason ; for the Holy Ghost, the holy spirit, loves not waste of reasons, to spend them where there is no use. And therefore we must think it a weighty point, and of great importance, that we give ear to these directions.
We must remember that every one of these reasons has a force in every direction : “ you that have wives, be as if you had none," for, " the time is short, and the fashion of this world passeth away.” And so, you that weep, as if you wept not, for the time is short, and the fathion of the world pafseth away. And you are brethren, you that use the world
as not abusing it --- for the time is short, and the fashion of this world passeth away. So that all these reasons must be thought on in every particular direction, that I speak of; only in general, I will speak a little of the first reason, « The time is short.”
The time of the world, there is but a little time before the day of judgment. Christ is at hand to judge the quick and the dead. The time between this and that is short, it was short then, it is shorter now. « The time is short ;" we are fallen into the latter end of the world : but that is not all.
2. The time is short of our little world, our particular judgement is near at hand : it shall be with us at the last day, as it is when we die ; our time is short, the time of our particular life is short; and that is more forcible to persuade us, “ The time is short."
3. The season of the time, which is the prime time : The season and opportunity of time is shorter than the time of life ; for we have not opportunity of time all our life. I. The time is short : that is, the advantage of doing good, and taking of good, is short. All the year is not harvest, or feed-time; it is not always tide, it is not always sunshine ; and, as it is in nature, fo it is in the spiritual state of things. We have not always ad. vantages and opportunities, we have not always gales.. Opportunity therefore is shorter than time, as our time is shorter than the time of the world. “ The time is short." The opportunity and season of time is shorter-it is short.
2. It is also uncertain-we cannot tell how short. If it were told any of us here, that within two days he shall die, it would startle us, the best of us all, it would make us look about us. But who of us all knows certainly that he shall live two hours ? The time, as it is short, so it is uncertain. And here is the wondrous folly of our nature, that we will take so much time to come in trust, as tho' we should live fo long, and make a covenant with death. But one party cannot make a covenant; God and the time to come make no covenant with us. Therefore, it is extremity of folly to say, I will live fo long, and so long.– Thou fool, faith God, when he projected for a long time, and had treasure laid up for many years, “ Thou fool, this night they shall take thy soul.” A man is a fool when he makes ac