« PreviousContinue »
were no God, no Chrift, no heaven, no hell, no judgment, no, nor death to be expected; as if a man were but a mafter-beaft to rule the reft, and feed upon and perifh with them. And if it were your own cafe, to fee what fouls do in heaven and hell, and at once to fee how unbelievingly, carelessly, and fenfelefsly moft men live on earth, as if there were no fuch difference in another world, would it not feem a pityful fight to you? If you had once feen the five brethren of Dives on earth, eating, drinking, laughing and merry, clothed and faring daily with the beft, and at the fame time seen their brother's foul in hell, begging in vain for a little eafe, and wishing that one from the dead might go warn them, that they came not to that place of torment, would it not feem to you a pityful fight? Would not pity have made you think, Is there no way to open thefe gentlemen's eyes? No way to acquaint them what is become of their brother, and where Lazarus is, and whither they themfelves are going? No one driveth or forceth them to hell, and will they go thither of themfelves? And is there no way to flop them, or keep them back? Did you but fee yourfelves what we fee by faith (befieving God) and at once behold the faints in heaven, the loft defpairing fouls in hell, and the fenfelefs fenfual finners on earth, that ye will lay none of this to heart, furely it would make you wonder at the stupidity of mankind. Would you not fay, O what a deceiver is the devil, that can thus lead on fouls to their own damnation; O what a cheat is this tranfitory world, that can make men fo forget the world where they muft live for ever! O what an enemy is this flefh, that thus draweth down men's fouls from God! O what a befotting thing is fin, that turneth a reasonable foul into worfe than a beaft! What a bedlam is this wicked world, when thousands are fo busy labouring to undo themselves and others, and gratifying the devil against their God and Saviour, who would give them everlasting blessed life!
, no hell, no &ed; as if a the reft, and And if it were do in heaven unbelievingly, live on earth, ce in another ght to you? If of Dives on and merry, ft, and at the hell, begging that one from at they came dit not feem -ity have made refe gentlemen's become of their d whither they or forceth them felves? And is back? Did by faith (bethe faints in hell, and the nat ye will lay uld make you . Would you evil, that can ation; O what can make men ve for ever! O thus draweth That a befotting nable foul into is this wicked y labouring to gratifying the r, who would
And as we have fuch a fight as this by faith to make us pity you, fo we have fo much taste of the goodness of God, the fweetness of his ways and the happiness of believers, as must needs make us with that you had but once tried the fame delights. They would turn the pleasures of fin into deteftation. God knows we defire nothing more for ourfelves than the perfection and eternity of this holiness and happiness which we believe and taste; and should we not defire the same for you?
And being thus moved with neceffary pity, we afk of God what he would have us do for your falvation. And he hath told us in fcripture, That the preaching of his gofpel, to acquaint you plainly with the truth, and earnestly and frequently entreat you to turn from the flesh and world to God by Jefus Chrift, is the means with which his grace is ready to concur for your falvation; when obftinate reffitance caufeth the holy Spirit to forfake the finner, and leave him to himfelf to purfue his own counfels, lufts, and will.
In this hope we undertook the facred ministry, and gave up ourfelves to this great and most important work. In the great fenfe of our unwor thiness, but yet in a fenfe of our fouls neceffity, we were not fuch fools at our first fetting out, as not to know it must be a life of labour, felf-denial, and patience; and the devil will do his wort to hinder us, and have all his inftruments ready to ferve him against our labours, and against your fouls. Chrift our Captain was faved by patient conqueft, and fo muft we fave ourselves and you; and fo muft you fave yourfelves under Chrift, if ever you be faved. 'Twas no ftrange thing to Paul, that bonds and afflictions did every where attend him? nor did he account his life dear, that he might finish his course with joy, and the miniftry committed to him by the Lord, Acts xx. 23, 24. It was no ftrange thing to him to be forbidden preaching to the Gentiles, that they might be faved: by fuch as were filling up the measure of their fins, and were under God's A 3
utmoft wrath on earth, 1 Theff. ii. 16. Devils and Pharifees, and most where they came, both high and low were against the Apostles preaching of the Gospel, and yet they would not facrilegiously and cruelly break their covenant with Chrift, and perfidiously defert the souls of men: even as their Lord, for the love of fouls, did call Peter Satan, who would have tempted him to fave his life and flesh, inftead of making it a facrifice for our fins, Matt. xvi. 23.
What think you should make us undertake a calling fo contrary to our fleshly cafe and intereft? Do we not know the way of eafe and honour, wealth and pleasure, as well as others? And have we not fleth as well as others? Could we not be content that the cup of reproach, fcorn, flander, poverty, and labours might pafs from us, if it were not for the will of God and your falvation? Why should we love to be the loweft, and trodden down by malignant pride, and counted as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, and reprefented to Rulers, whom we honour, as fchifmatics, difobedient, turbulent, unruly, by every churchufurper whom we refufe to make a god of? Why give we not over this preaching of the gospel at the will of Satan, who is for the everlafting fuffering of your fouls, under pretence of its making us fuffer? Is not all this, that you may be converted and faved? If we be herein befide ourselves, it is for you could the words of the ignorant or proud have perfuaded us, that either your wants or dangers are fo inconfiderable (or your other fupplies and helps fufficient) that our labours had been unneceffary to you. God knoweth we should have readily obeyed the filencing forts of Paftors, and have betaken us to fome other land, where our fervice had been more neceffary. Let fhame be the hypocrite's reward, who takes not the faving of fouls and pleafing of God for a fufficient reward, without ecclefiaftical dignities, preferment, or worldly wealth,
I have told you our motives, I have told you our bufinefs, and the terms of our undertaking. It is God and you finners that must next tell us what our entertainment and fuccefs fhall be: fhall it ftill be neglect and unthankful contempt, and turning away your ears and hearts, and faying, We have fomething elfe to mind? Will you ftill be cheated by this deceitful world, and spend all your days in pampering your guts, and providing for the Alefh, that must be rotting fhortly in a grave? Was you made for no better ufe than this? May not we bring you to some sober thoughts of your condition? Not one hour ferioufly to think whither you are going? What! not one awakened look into the world where you must be for ever? Not one heart-piercing thought of everlasting glory! Not one heart-piercing thought of your Saviour's love! Not one tear for all your finful lives! O! God forbid: let not our labours be fo defpifed: let not your God, your Saviour, and your fouls be fo light fet by: O let there be no more prophane perfons among you like Efau, who for one morfel fold his birth-right.
Poor finners! we talk not to you as on a stage, in customary words, and as if talking was our trade: we are in as good earnest with you as if we faw you murdering yourselves, and were perfuading you to fave yourfelves. Can any man be in jeft with you, who believeth God, who by faith foreseeth whither you are going, and what you lofe, and where the game of fin will end P better to jeft with you now in a pulpit, or in private, than to ftand jefting over your departing fouls when at death you are breathing out your laft.
Alas! with fhame and grief we confefs, we never speak to you of these things, as their truth and weight deferve, nor with the skill and wisdom, the affection and fervency that befeemeth men engaging in the faving of fouls; but yet you may perceive that we are in earnest with you for God
is fo.) What elfe do we fludy for, labour for, fuffer for, live for? Why elfe do we so much trouble ourfelves, and trouble you, with this ado, and anger them that would have made us filent? For my own part, I will make my free confeffion to you to my fhame, That I never grew cold, and dull, and pitylefs to the fouls of others, till I first grew too cold and careless of my own, (unless when weaknefs or fpeculative ftudies cool me, which I mult confefs they often do.) We never cease pitying you, till we are growing too like you, and oft have need of pity ourselves.
When, through the mercy of my Lord, the profpect of the world of fouls, which I am going to, hath any powerful operation on myself, O! then I could fpend and be spent for others. No words are too earnest, no labour too great, no cost too dear; the frowns and wrath of malignant oppofers of the preaching of Chrift's gofpel are nothing to me: but when the world of fpirits difappears, or my foul is clouded, and receiveth not the vital illuminating influences of heaven, I grow cold, firft to myfelf, and then to others.
Come then, poor finners, and help us, who are willing at any time to help you. As we first crave God's help, fo we next crave yours: help us, for we cannot serve you against your wills, nor save you without your consent and help. God himself will not fave you without you, and how shall we? We know that the devil is against us, and will do his utmost to hinder us and fo will all his ministers, by what names or titles foever dignified or distinguifhed? But all this is nothing, if you will but take our parts: I mean, if you will take Christ's part, and your own, and will not be against youṛfelves. Men or devils cannot either help or hinder us in-faving you, as you may do yourselves: if God and you be for us who fhall be against us ?;
And will you help us? Give over striving against God and Confcience: give over fighting against Chrift and his Spirit; take no more part with the