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SERIOUS TREATISE ;
I. What Conversion is not, IV. The marks of the un-
and correcting some mis-
II. What Conversion is, and
wherein it consisteth.
III. The necessity of Con-
V. The miseries of the un-
VI. Directions for conver-
VII. Motives to conversion.
By that faithful servant of Jesus Christ,
MR. JOSEPH ALLEIN,
Minister of the Gospel at Taunton, in Somersetshire.
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom
THAT WOULD BE SAFE AND HAPPY.
IF it were only possible thou mayest live hereafter, and be called to account in another world for what thou dost in this, it would be thy wisdom to take the safest course, and not to run the constant hazard of being dragged by death to judgment before thou art prepared to meet thy Judge. But another life, and a judgment to come, are more than possible: there is an high probability, yea, as great a certainty as can with reason be expected, that death will not put an end to thy being; that thou shalt live after the return of thy body to the earth; and that then thou shalt be tried, and sentenced to such an happiness or misery, as will be incomparably greater than any thing, nay, than all thou didst ever feel or see, hear of or imagine. These weighty truths are taught and established in some measure by the light of nature, but much more clearly and firmly by the oracles of God in the holy scriptures. Besides what they say of the different states of separated souls, they plainly teach, and strongly assert, that God hath appointed a time in which he will judge the whole world, by the Mediator Jesus Christ; that that great Mediator, who is God as well as man, will descend from heaven, attended by its glorious inhabitants, with triumphant acclamations to his royal throne; that a mighty voice will cite all that
ever dwelt on earth, to make their personal appearance: that that awaking and commanding summons shall be presently heard and obeyed by the dead, and they, with the quick then remaining alive, shall all stand before the judgment seat that after a thoroughly searching and impartial trial, which will reach men's several talents, trusts, and opportunities of getting and doing good, and their most secret actions, words and thoughts, every one shall receive an unalterable sentence of absolution or condemnation ¿ and that then, such as are approved and absolved, shall inherit an heavenly kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world, be like the angels, their delightful companions, converse with their most amiable and loving Saviour, beholding and partaking of his glory, yea, resemble, see and enjoy God himself in completed holiness and everlasting bliss; and those, on the other hand, that are reprobated and damned, shall never be admitted into the regions of light, nor yet be favoured with a glimpse thereof, but suffer with devils, in the blackness of darkness for ever, the perpetual gnawings of the worm that dieth not, and the extreme torments of unquenchable fire.
Seeing then these things cannot be denied, thou must be guilty of such woful abuses of reason as far exceed all the extravagances of them that want it; thou must be most grossly foolish, most unnaturally cruel to thine own soul, to thy whole self; if thou dost not earnestly desire to be one of those
unto whom the Lord shall say, Come ye blessed, and not, Depart ye cursed; if thou dost not readily welcome, and diligently use, any proper helps for the avoiding of the heaviest, endless misery, and for the attaining of the purest, vastest, everlasting happiness. And such helps are now offered: thee in this little book, which hath a taking tincture of the excellent author's flaming love to God, and useful charity to the souls of men. And now it is in thine hand, let me tell thee, it cannot be refused the reading, or read without doing what it so plainly teacheth, and affectionately urgeth, but at thy greatest peril. If thou wilt not be at a small expense of time and pains to read it over, if after the neglect of so many means of instruction this also be rejected, how justly mayest thou be destroyed for lack of knowl edge? how soon may the things which belong unto thy peace be hid from thine eyes? A continued wilful want of understanding, is large ground for fear, lest he that made thee should not have mercy on thee, and he that formed thee should shew thee no favour. If thou readest, but dost not practise what scripture and reason so pathetically plead for, the increase of thy knowledge will increase thy sorrow, because it will aggravate thy sin; for to him that knows his Lord's will, how and why to do good, and doth it not, but the forbidden evil, to him 'tis heinous, inexcusable sin, for which he is liable to be beaten with many stripes, and in constant dreadful danger of severer punishment.