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but ill-deserving crcatures; not only without cur merits, but against our merits. And what though there be a concurrence of your abili ties, head-work and hand work in the procurement of some of your mercies, yet still those mercies are the pure effects of free-grace : for all those endeavours of yours had signified nothing to their procurement, without God's blessing; yea, and that wisdom and industry which you have used, were themselves the free gifts of God. You know there are thousands in the world as industrious and wise as you, and such as never provoked God by such fins as you have ; who yet are denied the mercies you enjoy. O how should this endear you to God!
Argument 2. How seasonably your mercies have been bestowed upon you in the very point of extremity and danger! God hath on purpose suffered it to grow to an extremity, that thereby he might commend his mercy to you with greater advantage. “ In the mount « of the Lord it hath been seen," Gen. xxii. 14. without this God faw his mercics would have been fighted, and low prized by you : But God hath watched the opportunity of bestowing his goodness upon you, for no other end but to magnify his mercies in your eyes, and niake the deeper and more lasting impressions upon your hearts. Shall such inercies, which at first were so amazing and overwhelming to you, at the reception whereof you were like men that dreamed, as the Psalmist speaks, Pfalm cxxvi. 1. so soon grow ftale and common? God forbid !
Argument 3. How special and distinguishing have fome of your mercies been? God hath not dealt with every one as he hath with you.
Are not some that went out with you found wanting at your return : They are among the dead, it may be among the damned, and you among the living, yet enjoying the capacity and the means of salvation. God hath prospered your voyage, and returned you with success ; you have sucked the abundance of the sea, and the treasures hid in the sand, as the text speaks ; but others may say as Naomi, Ruth i. 21. “ I went out full, and an come back empty.” I went out full of hopes, and am come back with fad disappointments. And is not this a strong tie to thanksgiving ?
Argument 4. Did not your mercies find you under great guilt? You know
what your own transgressions against the Lord were, and yet such was the strength of mercy, that it brake through all your great provocations, and made its way to you through a multitude of iniquities. It came triumphing over all your great unworthinels ; and is not such mercy worthy to be admired, and recorded for ever! O what will affect and melt your hearts, if this will not ? Surely such mercies have a constraining power in them, upon all sensible souls.
Argument 5. To conclude ; if all the goodneis of God which hath pafied before your eyes, does indeed prevail upon you to love the Lord, and fear to offend him ; if it really constrains you to give up yourselves, and all you have, to be his ; then all this is but the be ginning of mercies, and you shall see yet greater things than these. God hath more mercies yet behind, and thofe of a higher kind and more excellent nature than these temporal mercies are.
You are now delivered from the dangers of the sea, and have escaped those perils: O but what is this to deliverance from wrath to come ? You have been preserved from, or delivered out of Turkish slavery; but what is that to a deliverance from the curse of the law, the bondage of your lusts, and the power of Satan? Happy fouls, if these deliverances do in any measure prove introductive to the great salvation.
Thus I have, as the Lord hath enabled me, endeavoured to chuse and improve proper subjects for your meditation in every condition that befals you. I cannot carry these truths one degree farther, it is the Lord only that can make them effectual to your fouls. But it is my earnest request to you, mafters, that have the over-fight, and must give an account for your companies, that you will not only read and consider these things yourselves, but that you will at fit seasons, especially upon the Lord's day, read and inculcate them upon your fervants and company; and that, as those who must give an account. Will not this be a better expence of that precious and hallowed time, than to spend it in fleeping in your cabins, or drinking in tiplinghouses? All that fin of theirs which you may prevent, and do not, becomes your own fin. And have you not personal fins enough already, but you must draw the guilt of their fins upon you also ? I befeech you, and it is my last request, that you will faithfully labour, that you and your companies may serve the Lord.
THE GREAT WORK OF A CHRISTIAN,
OPENED AND PRESSED.
From Prov. iv. 23.
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY. To my dearly beloved and longed for, the Flock of Jesus Christ in
Dartmouth, over whom the Holy Ghost hath made me an Overfeer: Sound Judgment, true Zeal, and unstained Purity, are heartily wilhed. My Dear Friends, "HERE are three fad fights with which our eyes should conti
nually affect our hearts : The firf, is to behold in every place so many profane and diffolute ones, who bear the very image of Satan; the face of whose conversation plainly discovers what they are, and whither they are going, Philip. iii. 18, 19. These look like themselves, the children of wrath. The second is to see so many cursed hypocrites artificially disguising themselves, and with marvellous dexterity acting the parts of saints, so that even a judicious eye may sometimes mistake the fimilar workings of the Spirit on them, for his faving workings on others : To hear such a person conferring, praying, bewailing his corruptions, and talking of his experiences; would cafily persuade a man to believe that he hath the heart, as well as the face of a fincere Christian : For,
Sic oculos, fic ille manus, fic ora ferebat. So the people of God do speak, so they pray, and even so they open their conditions : These look like saints, but are none. The third is to see so many real faints, in whom the spirit of truth is, who yet, through the impetuous workings of their corruptions, and neglecting of the watch over their hearts, do often fall into such fcandalous practices, that they look like hypocrites, though they are not so.
These are three sad sights indeed, and O that my head were waters, and mine eyes fountains of tears, that I may weep abundantly over them all!
For the first, I would mourn heartily, considering that they (fo continuing) muft be damned eternally, 2 Theff. 1. 8, 9. i Cor. vi. 9.
For the second, I would both weep and tremble, confidering tilat they (fo abiding) must be damned doubly, Matth. xxiv. 51.
And for the third no less than any of the rest, because, though though they themselves may, and shall be faved, yet their examples make fast the bonds of death upon both the former, Matth. xvii. 7. 2 Sam. xii
. 13, 14: Alas! that ever they should shed the blood of others fouls, for whom Christ Thed his own blood! That ever they should be cruelto others who have found Christ so kind to them ! I know they dare not do it directly and intentionally, but so it proves occationally and eventually. Suffer me here to digress a little, and expoftulate with these prejudiced and hardened fouls, I will presently return to you again. O why do you mischieve your own fouls by other men's examples ? Because they stumble and break their shins, will you fall and break your necks ? I desire all such as harden themseives by these things, and take up a good opinion of their own deplorable condition, would soberly confider, and antwer these three queries.
Query 1. Doth religion any way countenance or patronize the fin. ful practices of its protefiors ? Or doth it not rather impartially and feverely condemn them? It is the glory of the Christian religion, that it is pure and undefiled, Jam. i. 27. No doctrine so holy, Pfal. xix. 8. Nor doth any make more provision for an holy life, Tit. ii. 11, 12. Indeed there is a case wherein we may charge the evil practices of men upon their principles, but that is when their practices naturally flow from, and necessarily follow their principles : As for example, if I see a Papist sin boldly, I may charge it upon his principles, for they fet pardons to sale, and so make way for looseness. If I see an Arminian flight the grace of God, and proudly advance himfelf, I may cry shame upon his principles, which directly lead to it : But can I do fo where such practices are condemned and provided against by their own avowed principles, who commit them?
Query 2. Is it not a most irrational thing to let fly at religion because of the scardalous ways of fome, whilft, in the mean time, you wholly flight and over-look the holy and heavenly converfacion of many others ? Are all that profess godliness loole and careless in their lives? No, foine are an ornament to their profession, and the glory of Christ: And why. must the innocent be condemned with the guilty ? Why the eleven for one Judas ?
Query 3. If you condemn religion because of the scandalous lives of some that profess it, muft you not then cast off all religion in the world, and turn down-right atheists ? Surely this is the consequent of it: For what religion is there, but some that profess it walk contrary to their profeffion? And then, as Constantine told the Novatian, you must set up a ladder, and go to heaven by yourself.
But alas! it is not our printed apologies for religion, but the visible reformations of its profeflors, that must both falve its honour, and re
move those fatal itumbling-blocks at which the blind world strikes, and falls into eternal perdition.
Now there are two ways by which this may be effected : Fir/, By convincing the consciences of professors of their miscarriages, and the evil aggravations of them. Secondly, By medicating the heart, and cleansing the fountain whence they proceed. In the first of these, a worthy and eminent servant of Christ hath lately laboured, holding a clear gospel-glass before See Gospel the faces of professors, which truly represents their glass. spots and blemishes: if he that reads it will consider, apply, and practise, it fhall doubtless turn to his salvation; but, if it turn to no good account to him that reads it, I know it shall turn to a testimony for him that wrote it. The second is a principal design of this small treatise, the subject whereof is exceeding weighty, and of daily use to the people of God, though the manner of handling it be attended with many defects and weaknesses : every one cannot be excellent, who yet may be useful.
I will exercise your patience no longer than whilft I tell you,
First, For the publication of it, take this fincere and brief account, That as I was led to this subject by a special providence, fo to the publication of it by a kind of necessity. The providence at first leading me to it, was this, A dear and choice friend of my intimate acquaintance being under much inward trouble, upon the account of some special heart-disorder, opened the case to me, and earnestly requested fome rules and helps in that particular; whilft I was bending my thoughts to that special case, divers other cases of like importance (fome of which were dependent upon that consideration) occurred to my thoughts, and this scripture, which I have infifted upon, presented itself, as a fit foundation for the whole discourse; which being lengthened out to what you fee, divers friends requested me to tranfcribe for their use, divers of the cases here handled, and some others begged me to publish the whole, to which I was in a manner neceffitated, to save the pains of transcribing, which to me is a very tedious, and tiresome work: and just as I had almost finilhed the copy, an opportunity (and that somewhat strangely) offered to make it public. So that from first to last, I have been carried beyond my firft intentions in this thing.
Objection. If any fay, The world is even cloyed with books, and therefore though the discourse be necessary, yet the publication is needless.
Solution. 1. I answer, There are multitudes of books indeed, and of them many concern not themselves about root-truths, and practical godliness, but spend their strength upon impractical notions, and frivolous controversies; many also strike at root-truths, and endea