Page images
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

world and flefh, which in your baptism 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 ipeak of be fo or no. We offer you nothing but what we have refolvedly chofen ourselves, and that after the most ferious 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 thefe 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 everlasting lofs of falvation itself And what are our fufferings for your fake, in com parifon 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 refufed 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 fhall 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 so.

a tura

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 last past, 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 deniedft 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 fpeaking 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 fpeak 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 fpiritual 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 you clearly fee fufficient reafon to change them; else I would as foon preach (were I capable) to devils and damned fouls. Your cafe is not yet defperate: O make it not desperate. There is just 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 safe, 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, Chrift'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

y 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 fometimes 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 haft been doing in the world till now; and look within thee, what a case thy soul


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 fpeak not that meffage which God hath commanded his minifters to fpeak, then let it be refused 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 befeeching him too late.

I know, poor finner, that flesh 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. Oman! that thou didst 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 promiled 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 fots and drunkards) that will tell thee, All this is but troublefome precifenefs, and making more ado than needs; but I know withal what that man deferveth who will believe a fool before his Maker; (for he can be no better than a miferable fool, that will contradict and revile the word of God, even the word of grace that would fave men's fouls.}

And, alas, it is poffible thou mayeft hear fome of the tribe of Levi (or rather of Cain) deriding this ferious godliness, as mere hypocrify, and fanaticifm, and felf-conceitednefs as if you must be no better than the devil's flaves, left you be proud in think

ing 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 fuch men's big look or coat may make the poifon ke the easier taken down: I will intrcat thee but (as before God) to answer the following questions, 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, fo fuch inen prate againft converfion and the Spirit of God, because they have no fuch thing themselves.

Q. 1. I pray ask 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 live 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 fchifmatics, that their carcafs must be rotting in a darkfome grave?

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »