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AN EARNEST INVITATION TO SINNERS TO TURN TO GOD, IN ORDER TO THEIR ETERNAL SALVATION.
DEARLY beloved, and longed for, I gladly acknowledge myself a debtor to you all, and am concerned, as I would be found a good steward to the household of God, to give to every onc his portion. But the physician is most solicitous for those patients whose case is most doubtful and hazardous; and the father's bow. els are especially turned towards his dying child. The numbers of the unconverted souls among you, call for my most earnest compas, sions, and hasty diligence to pluck them out of the burning, Jude 23. And therefore to these, first, I shall apply myself in these lines.
But whence shall I fetch my arguments, or how shall I choose my words ? Lord, wherewith shall I woo them ? where with shall I win them? Oh, that I could but tell! I would write unto them in tears, I would weep out every argument, I would empty my veins for ink, I would petition them on my knees; verily (were I able) I would. Oh, how thankful I would be, if they would be prevailed with to repent and turn !
How long have I travailed in birth with you? how frequently have I made suit to you? how often would I have gathered you? how instant have I been with you? This is that
I have prayed for, and studied for, for many years, that I might bring you to God; Oh, that I might but do it! Will you yet be entreated? Oh, what a happy man might you make me, if you would but hearken to me, and suffer me to carry you over to Jesus Christ!
“ But, Lord, bow insufficient am I for this work! I have been many a year wooing for thee, but the damsel would not go with me. Lord, what a task bast thou set me to do? A. las ! wherewith shall I pierce the scales of Leviathan, or make the heart to feel that is hard as a stone; hard as a piece of the neth. er-millstone ? Shall I go and lay my mouth to the grave, and look when the dead will obey me, and come forth? Shall I make an oration to the rocks, or declaim to the mountains, and think to move them with arguments? Shall I give the blind to see? From the be. ginning of the world was it not heard that a man opened the eyes of the blind. But thou, O Lord, canst pierce the scales, and prick the heart of the sinner. I can but shoot at rovers, and draw the bow at a venture ; do thou direct the arrow between the joints of the harness, and kill the sin, and save the soul of a siņner, that casts his eyes into these labours."
But I must apply myself to you, to whom I am sent : yet I am at a great loss. Would to God I knew how to go to work with you! would I stick at the pains ? God knoweth, you yourselves are my witnesses, how I have followed you in private, as well as in public,
and have brought the gospel to your doors, testifying to you the necessity of the new birth, and persuading you to look in time after a sound and thorough change. Beloved, I have not acted a part among you to serve my own advantage : our gospel is not yea and nay. Have you not heard the same truths from the pulpit, by public labours, by private letters, and by personal instruction ? Brethren, I am of the same mind as ever, that holi. ness is the best choice, that there is no entering into heaven but by the straight passages of the second birth, that without holiness you shall never see God, Heb. xii. 14. Ah, my be. loved ! refresh my bowels in the Lord. If there be any consolation in Christ, any comfort of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy. Now give yourselves unto the Lord, 2 Cor. viii. 5, Now set yourselves to seek him. Now set up the Lord Jesus in your hearts, and set him up in your houses. Now come in and kiss the son. Psa. ii. 12, and embrace the tenders of mer. cy, touch his sceptre and live ; why will you die ? I beg not for myself, but fain I would have you happy: this is the prize I run for, and the mark I aim at. My soul's desire and prayer for you is, that you may be saved, Rom. x. i.
The famous Lycurgus having instituted most strict and wholesome laws for his people, told them he was necessitated to go a journey from them, and got them to bind them. selves in an oath, that his laws should be observed till his return. This done, he went
into a voluntary banishment, and never returned more, that they might, by virtue of their oath, be engaged to the perpetual observance of his laws. Methinks I should be glad of the hard conditions which he endured (though I love you tenderly) so I might but hereby engage you thoroughly to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dearly beloved, would you rejoice the heart of your minister ? Why then, embrace the counsels of the Lord by me: forego your sins ; set to prayer: up with the worship of God in your families: keep at a distance from the corruptions of the times. What greater joy to a minister, than to hear of souls born unto Christ by him, and that his children walk in the truth! 2 John 4.
Brethren, I beseech you, suffer friendly plainness and freedom with you in your deepest concernments. I am not playing the ora. tor, to make a learned speech to you, nor dressing my dish with eloquence wherewith to please you. These lines are upon a weighty errand indeed, viz. To convince, and convert, and to save you. I am not baiting my hook with rhetoric, nor fishing for your applause, but for your souls, My work is not to please you, but to save you ; nor is my business with your faneies, but your hearts. If I have not your hearts, I haye nothing. If I were to please your ears, I would sing another song, If I were to preach myself, I would steer an. other course : I could then tell you a smoother tale: I would make you pillows, and speak you peace : for how can Ahab love his Mi.
caiah, that always prophecies evil concerning him ? 1 Kings xxii. 8. But how much better are the wounds of a friend, than the fair speeches of the harlot, who flattereth with her lips, till the dart strike through the liver, and hunteth for the precious life? Prov. vii. 21, 22, 23, and vi. 36. If I were to quiet a cry. ing infant, I might sing him to a pleasant mood, and rock him asleep: but when the child is fallen into the fire, the parent taketh another course; he will not go to still him with a song or trifle. I know, if we speed not with you, you are lost: if we cannot get your
consent to arise and come away, you perish forever. No conversion, no salvation: I must get your good will, or leave you miserable.
But here the difficulty of my work again recurs upon me. “Lord, choose my stones out of the rock, 1 Sam. xvii. 4), 45. I come in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. I come forth like the stripling David, to wrestle, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. vi. 12. This day let the Lord smite the Philistine, and spoil the strong man of his ar. mour, and give me to fetch off the captives out of his hand. Lord, choose my words, choose my weapons for me, and when I put my hand into the bag, and take thence a stone, and sling it, do thou carry it to the mark, and make it sink, not into the forehead, 1 Sam. xvii. 49, but the heart of the unconverted sinner, and smite him to the ground, with Saul