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prevailing part of his will is for Christ's law, and government; so that he takes them not up as his toil or burden, but bis bliss, 1 John v. 3, Ps. cxix. 60, 72. When the unsancti. fied goes in Christ's ways as in chains and fetters, be doth them naturally, Ps. xl. 8, Jer. xxxi. 33, and counts Christ's laws his liberty, Ps, cxix. 32, 45, James i. 25. He is wil. ling in the beauties of holiness, Ps. cx. 3, and hath this inseparable mark, that he had rather (if he might have his choice) live a strict and holy life, than the most prosperous and flourishing life in the world. 1 Sam. x. 26. There went with Saul a band of men whose hearts God had touched. When God toucheth the hearts of his chosen, they presently follow Christ, Matt. iv. 22, and (though drawn) do freely run after him, Cant. i. 4, and willingly offer themselves to the service of the Lord, 2 Chron. vii. 16, seeking him with their whole desire, 2 Chron. xv. 15. Fear hath its use, but this is not the main spring of motion with a sanctified heart.
Christ keeps not his subjects in by force, but is king of a willing people. They are (through his grace) freely resolved for his service, and do it out of choice, not as slaves, but as the son or spouse, from a spring of love, and a loyal mind. In a word, the laws of Christ are the convert's love, Ps. cxix. 159, 163, 167, de. sire, ver. 5, 20, 40, delight, ver. 77, 92, 103, 111, 143, and continuall study, ver. 99, 79, Ps. i. 2.
(4.) The bent of his course is directed to leeep God's satutes, Ps. cxix. 4, 8, 167, 168.
"Tis the daily care of his life to walk with God. He seeks great things, he hath noble designs, though he fall too short : he aims at nothing less than perfection : he desires it, he reaches after it, he would not rest in any pitch of grace, till he were quite rid of sin, and had perfect holiness, Phil. iii. 11, 12, 13, 14.
Here the hypocrite's rottenness may be discovered. He desires holiness (as one well said) only as a bridge to heaven, and enquires earnestly, what is the least that will serve his turn; and if he can get but so much as may just bring him to heaven, this is all he cares for. But the sound convert desires holiness
for holiness' sake, Ps. cxix. 97, Matt. y. 6, · and not only for heaven's sake. He would
not be satisfied with so much as might save him from hell, but desires the highest pitch : yet desires are not enough. What is thy way and thy course ? Is the drift and scope of thy life altered? Is holiness thy trade, and religion thy business ? Rom. viii. 1, Matt. xxv. 16, Phil. i. 20. If not, thou art short of sound conversion.
Application. And is this that we have de- . scribed, the conversion that is of absolute necessity to salvation? Then be informed, 1. That straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life. 2. That there are but few that find it. 3. That there is need of a divine power, savingly to convert a sinner to Jesus Christ.
Again, then be exhorted, O man that readest, to turn in upon thine own self. What saith conscience? Doth it not begin to bite ? Doth it not twitch thee as thou goest? Is this thy judgment, and this thy choice, and this thy way, that we have described ? If so, then 'tis well. But doth not thy heart condemn thee, and tell thee, there is such a sin thou livest in, against thy conscience ? Doth it not tell thee, there is such and such a secret way of wickedness, that thou makest no bones of ? such or such a duty that thou makest no conscience of ?
Doth not conscience carry thee to thy closet, and tell thee how seldom prayer and read. ing is performed there ? Doth it not carry thee to thy family, and shew thee the charge of God, and the souls of thy children and servants that be neglected there ? Doth not conscience lead thee to thy shop, thy trade, and tell thee of some mystery of iniquity there ? Doth uot it carry thee to the ale-shop, or to the sack-shop, and round thee in thine ear for the loose company thou keepest there, the precious time thou mis-spendest there, for the talents of God which thou throwest down this sink, for thy gaming and thy swilling, &c. ? Doth it not carry thee into thy secret chamber, and read thee a curtain lecture ?
O conscience ! do thy duty: in the name of the living God, I command thee discharge thine office : lay hold upon this sinner, fall upon him, arrest him, apprehend him, undeceive him. What ! wilt thou flatter and soothe him, while he lives in his sins ?Awake, O conscience ! what meanest thou, O sleeper? What! hast thou never a reproof in thy mouth? What! shall this soul die in his careless neglect of God and eternity, and thou altogether hold thy peace? What! shall he go on still in his trespasses, and yet have peace? Oh! rouse up thyself, and do thy work. Now let the preacher in thy bosom speak : cry aloud, and spare not : lift up thy voice like a trumpet ; let not the blood of this soul be required at thy hands.
I'T may be you are ready to say, What meaneth this stir ? And are apt to wonder why I follow you with such earnestness, stih ringing one lesson in your ears, That you should repent and be converted, Acts iii. 19. But I must say unto you, as Ruth to Naomi, Entreat me not to leave you, nor to turn aside from following after you, Ruth i. 16. Were it a matter of indifference, I would never keep so much ado: might you be saved as you be, I would gladly let you alone: but would you not have me solicitous for you, when I see you ready to perish ? As the Lord liveth, before whom I am, I have not the least hopes to see one of your faces in heaven, except you be converted : I utterly despair of your salvation, except you be prevailed with to turn
thoroughly, and give up yourselves to God in holiness and newness of life. Hath God said, Except you be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God ? John iii
. 3. And yet do you wonder why your ministers do so plainly travail in birth with you? Think it not strange that I am earnest with you to follow after holiness, and long to see
the image of God
upon you : never did any, nor shall any, enter into heaven by any other way but this. The conversion described is not an high pitch of some taller Christians; but every soul that is saved passeth this universal change.
It was a passage of the noble Roman, when he was hasting with corn to the city in the famine, and the mariners were loth to set sail in foul weather, Necessarium est navigare, non est necessariam virere ; our voyage is of more necessity than our lives. What is it that thou dost account necessary? Is thy bread necessary? Is thy breath necessary ? Then thy conversion is much more necessary. Indeed this is the unum necessarium, the one thing necessary. Thine estate is not neces. sary ; thou mayest sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase, Matt. xii. 46. Thy life is not necessary; thou mayest part with it for Christ, to infinite advantage. Thine esteem is not necessary; thou mayest be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet happy ; yea, much more happy in reproach than in repute, 1 Pet. iv. 4, Matt. v. 10, 11. But thy conversion is necessary, thy damnation lies upon it: and is it not needful, in so important a case, to look