« PreviousContinue »
world and flefh, which in your baptifm you renounced: fet your hearts to the meffage which we bring; allow it your manlike fober thought; fearch the fcriptures, and fee whether the things we speak of be fo or no. We offer you nothing but what we have refolvedly chofen ourfelves, and that after the most terious deliberation we can make. We have many times looked round about us, to know what is the happiness of man: and had we found better for ourselves, we had offered better to you. If this world would have ferved our turns, it would have ferved yours alfo, and we would not have troubled you with the talk of another world; but it will not, I am fure it will not ferve your turns to make you happy, nor fhall you long make that felf-deceiving fhift with it as now ye do.
But if you will not think of these things, if you will not use the reason of men, alas! what can we do to fave your fouls? O pity them, Lord, that they may pity themfelves; have mercy on them, that they may have fome mercy on themselves; help them, that they help themselves and us. If you ftill refufe, will not your lofs be more than ours! If we lofe our labour, (which to ourselves we fhall not if we lose our hopes of your falvation, what is this to your everlafting lofs of falvation itself? And what are our sufferings for your fake, in comparison of your endless fuffering?
But O! this is it that breaketh our hearts, that we leave you under more guilt than we found you : and when we have laid out life and labour to fave you, the impenitent fouls must have their pains increafed for refufing thefe calls; and that it will be part of your hell to think for ever, how madly you refused our counfel, and what pains, coft, and pa tience were used to have faved you, and all in vain. It will be fo, it must needs be fo. Chrift faith, It shall be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for the rejecters of his gofpelcalls. The nature of the thing, and the nature of Juftice, certainly inform you it must be fo.
O turn not our complaints to God against you! turn us not from befeeching you to be reconciled to God, to tell him you will not be reconciled; force us not to fay, that we earnestly invited you to the heavenly feaft, and you would not come : force us not to bear this witness against you, "Lord, we could have born all our labour and fufferings for them much eafier, if they would but have yielded to thy grace. But it was they themfelves that broke our hearts, that loft our labour, that made us to preach and intreat in vain; it was eafier to preach without maintenance than without fuccefs. It was they that were worse to us than all the perfecutors in the world. How oft would we have gathered them, but they would not, but are ungathered ftill ?" How many holy, faithful Minifters have I known, these eleven years laft paft, who have lived in pining poverty and want, and hardly by charity got bread and clothing, and yet if they could but have truly faid, Lord, the fermons which I preach privately, and in danger, have won many fouls to thee, it would have made their burden easy. But I tell the fenfelefs and impenitent finner, thou that deniedst God in thy heart, aud that deniedst them thy converfion, which was the end of all their labours, haft dealt much more cruelly with them than they that denied the Levites bread.
Poor finners! I know that I am speaking all this to thofe that are dead in fin, but 'tis a death confifting with a natural life, which hath a capacity of fpiritual life; or elfe I would no more speak to you than to a ftone. And I know that you are blind to fin; but 'tis a blindness confifting with a reasonable faculty, which is capable of spiritual illumination : or elfe I would no more perfuade you than I do a beast. And I know that you are in the fetters of your own lufts; your wills, your love, your hearts are turned away from God, and ftrongly bewitched with the dreams and dalliances with the flesh and world: but your wills are not forced to this captivity. Surely thefe wills may be changed by God's grace, when
when you clearly fee fufficient reafon to change them; elfe I would as foon preach (were I capable) to devils and damned fouls. Your cafe is not yet defperate: O make it not defperate. There is juft the fame hope of your falvation as there is of your converfion and perfeverance, and no more. Without it there is no hope. And with it you are fafe, and have no cause to doubt and fear. Heaven may yet be yours, if you will. Nothing but your own wills, refufing Chrift and a holy life, can keep you out. And fhalt thou do it? Shall hell be your own choice? And will you fay, you will not be faved.
O think better what you do! God's terms are reasonable, his words and ways are good and equal, Christ's yoke is eafy, and his burden light, and his commands are not grievous to any, but fo far as blindness and a bad and backward heart makes them fo. You have no true reafon to be unwilling: God and Confcience fhall one day tell you and all the world, that you have no reason for it. You may as wifely pretend reafon to cut your throats, to torment yourselves, as plead reason against a true converfion unto God. Were I perfuading you not to kill yourselves, I would make no question but you would be perfuaded; and yet I must be hopeless, when I perfuade you from everlasting mifery, and not to prefer the world and flesh before your Saviour, and your God, and before a fure everlasting joy ? God forbid!
Reader, I take it for a great mercy of God, that before my head lies down in the duft, and I go to give up my account unto my Judge, I have this opportunity once more earnestly to befpeak thee for
hy own falvation. I beg it of thee, as one that must shortly be called away and fpeak to thee no more till we come unto our endless state, that thou wouldeft but sometimes retire into thyself, and use the reason of a man, and look before thee whither thou art going, and look behind thee how thou hast lived, and what thou hast been doing in the world till now; and look within thee, what a cafe thy foul
is-in, and whether it be fit to enter upon eternity; and look above thee, what a heaven of glory thou doft neglect, and confider thou haft God to be thine everlasting Friend or Enemy, as thou chufeft, and as thou liveft, and thou art always` in his fight; yea, and look below thee, and think where they are that die unconverted. And when thou haft foberly thought of all these things, then do as God and true Reafon fhall direct thee. And is this an unreasonable request ? I appeal to God, and to all wife men, and to thy own confcience, when it fhall be awakened, if I fpeak against thee, or if all this be not for thy good or if it be not true and fure, then regard not what I fay: if I speak not that meffage which God hath commanded his minifters to fpeak, then let it be refufed as contemptuously as thou wilt. But if I do but in Christ's name and ftead befeech thee to be reconciled to God, 2 Cor. v. 20, refuse it at thy peril. And if God's befeeching thee fhall not prevail against thy floth, luft, thy appetite, against the defires of the flesh, against the duft and fhadows of the world, remember it when with fruitless cries and horror thou art beseeching him too late.
I know, poor finner, that flefh is brutish, and Juft and appetite have no reason: but I know thou haft reafon thyfelf, which was given thee to overrule them, and that he that will not be a man cannot be a faint, nor a happy man. I know thou livest in a tempting and wicked world, where things and perfons will be daily hindering thee; but I know that this is no more to a man that by faith fees heaven and hell before him, than a grain of fand is to a kingdom, or a blast of wind to one that is flying for his life. O man! that thou didft but
know the difference between that which the devil and fin will give thee, if thou wilt fell thy foul and heaven, and that which God hath promited and fworn to give thee, if thou wilt heartily give up thyfelf to him! I know thou mayeft poffibly fall into company, (at least among fome
Q. 1. I pray
afk them, whether it be a Puritan or Fanatic opinion that men muft die? And, what all the pomp, wealth, and pleasure of the world will fignify to a departing foul? Afk them whether they will five on earth for ever, and their merry hours and lordly looks will have no end ? And whether it be but the conceit of hypocrites and fell fchifmatics, that their carcafs must be rotting in a ath darkfome grave?
fome fots and drunkards) that will tell thee, All
And, alas, it is poffible thou mayeft hear some of the tribe of Levi (or rather of Cain) deriding this ferious godlinefs, as mere hypocrify, and fanaticifm, and felf-conceitedness; as if you must be no better than the devil's faves, left you be proud in thinking that you are better than they; that is, you must go with them to hell, left in heaven ye be proud hypocrites, for thinking yourselves happier than they.
It may be they will tell you, that this talk of Converfion is fitter for pagans and infidels to hear, than for Chriftians and Proteftants, because fuck men's big look or coat may make the poifon be the easier taken down: I will intrcat thee but (as before God) to anfwer the following queftions, or to get them answered, and then judge whether it be they or we that would deceive thee: and whether as men use to talk against learning that have none themselves, so fuch inen prate against converfion and the Spirit of God, becaufe they have no fuch thing themselves.