December 16, 2014

Benjamin Keach (1640–1704) on Abusing Offers of Love and Preparation for Death

And that I might enforce this word upon you, let me lay before you a few Motives and awakening Considerations.

First, Consider what a great favour and mercy it is that God hath let you and I live so long. Others are long ago cut down and sent to the grave; he hath not [willed that] it may be given [to] many half of those days which thou hast had: Look upon this as a mercy indeed, considering thy life was forfeited before thou wert born.

Sirs we came into the World with the Sentence of death upon us; and if Jehovah had cut us down in our sins many years ago, it would have been but a piece of Justice. And what is the end of God in sparing of us, but that we might be fitted for the place whither we are going. Oh how unwilling is God to strike the fatal blow, to cut men down before they are prepared for death. He is not willing they should perish, and that is the reason of his patience, longsuffering, and forbearance, sinners lay it to heart.

Secondly, Consider what dreadful provocations you and I have given him to take us away, and command death in his name to arrest us. Have we not grieved, burdened, yea even wearied him with our iniquities? Nay, have we not pierced him? May he not cry out, as  being pressed as a Cart is pressed that is full of sheaves, Amos 2.13. Is it not a sad and most lamentable thing, thus to deal with a loving and gracious God?

Thirdly, How often hath the Lord called you, and yet you have rebelled? Hath not he stretched out his hand all the day long, and yet you have not hearkened; but have rejected his counsel and cast his word and reproofs behind you; yea, and often resisted his Holy Spirit in the common motions and workings thereof? Have you not many of you refused his Grace, Son, and divers sweet and precious Calls and Offers of Love. And certain I am, you have had many of these in this place. Nay, how many warnings have you had of the near approach of death? Nay, awakening summons to prepare for the grave, as you would answer it before the dreadful Judge of Heaven and Earth; by my dear Brother that is fallen asleep [John Norcot]; whom we shall hear no more? Oh what pains did he take with some of you, that so you might be ready? Have not you and I notwithstanding all this hearkened to a base deceitful heart, and enticing and tempting Devil? Have you stouted it out against all Pains and Endeavours used for Spiritual awakenings, and are you yet alive? Then consider how much this calls upon you to be ready to die. Will any dare, that are sensible of the worth of their Immortal Souls, neglect this concern any longer?

4. Consider, That the abuse of Mercy and Goodness will greatly aggravate thy misery in the day of wrath: Oh remember what it is to sin against Light, Love, and Patience. Shall the goodness of God, that should lead to repentance, encourage and harden thee in thy iniquity? How dost thou think to escape the Judgement of God? Or despisest thou, as saith the Apostle, the riches of his goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds, Rom. 2:4-6. Sentence is past against a sinner, but because it is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of men are fully set within them to do wickedly, Eccl. 8.11. Christ knocks at the door and yet sinners will not hear. Christ may speak of sinners as God speaks of Israel of old, My people will have none of me, Psal. 81. 11. Oh what have you to answer for abused mercy and favour! What will you do hearafter, when Christ, who waits upon you now to save you, will then turn his face from you in the day of your calamity, and plead against you to condemn you? see Prov. 1. 28.
Benjamin Keach, A Summons to the Grave. Or, The Necessity of a Timely Preparation for Death (London: Printed for Ben. Harris at the Stationers Arms in Sweethings Rents, near the Royal Exchange, 1676), 23–27.


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