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them awalight till thelief, our owns than they want
sins they should reprove, and this makes them ashamed to reprove. Another is, a secret infidelity prevailing in men's hearts. Did we verily believe, that all the unregenerate and unholy shall be eternally tormented, how could we hold our tongues, or avoid bursting into tears, when we look them in the face, especially when they are our near and dear friends? Thus doth secret unbelief consume the vigour of each grace and duty. O Christians, if you did verily believe that your ungodly neighbours, wife, husband, or child, should certainly lie for ever in hell, except they be thoroughly changed before death shall snatch them away, would not this make you address them day and night till they were persuaded ? Were it not for this cursed unbelief, our own and our neighbour's souls would gain more by us than they do.These attempts are also much hindered by our want of charity and compassion for men's souls. We look on miserable souls, and pass by, as the Priest and Levite by the wounded man. What though the sinner, wounded by sin, and captivated by Satan, do not desire thy help himself; yet his misery cries aloud. If God had not heard the cry of our miseries, before he heard the cry of our prayers, and been moved by his own pity, before he was moved by our importunity, we might long have continued the slaves of Satan. You will pray to God for them to open their eyes, and turn their hearts; and why not endeavour their conversion, if you desire it? And if you do not desire it, why do you ask it? Why do you not pray them to consider and return, as well as pray to God to convert and turn them? If you should see your neighbour fallen into a pit, and should pray to God to help him out, but neither put forth your hand to help him, nor once direct him to help himself, would not any man censure you for your cruelty and hypocrisy? It is as true of the soul as the body. If any man seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? or what love hath he to his
brother's soul?_We are also hindered by a base man-pleasing disposition. We are so desirous to keep in credit and favour with men, that it makes us most unconscionably neglect our own duty. He is a foolish and unfaithful physician, that will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him. If our friends are distracted, we please them in nothing that tends to their hurt. And yet when they are besides themselves in point of salvation, and in their madness posting on to damnation, we will not stop them, for fear of displeasing them. How can we be Christians, that love the praise of men more than the praise of God? For if we seek to please men, we shall not be the servants of Christ.-It is common to be hindered by sinful bashfulness. When we should shame men out of their sins, we are ourselves ashamed of our duties. May not these sinners condemn us when they blush not to swear, be drunk, or neglect the worship of God; and we blush to tell them of it, and persuade them from it? Bashfulness is unseemly in cases of necessity. It is not a work to be ashamed of, to obey God in persuading men from their sins to Christ. Reader, hath not thy conscience told thee of thy duty many a time, and put thee on to speak to poor sinners; and yet thou hast been ashamed to open thy mouth, and so let them alone to sink or swim? O read and tremble: Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my word, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of' him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.(0) An idle and impatient spirit hindereth us. It is an ungrateful work, and sometimes makes men our enemies. Besides, it seldom succeeds at the first, except it be followed on. You must be long teaching the ignorant, and persuading the obstinate. We consider not what patience God used towards us, when we were in our sins. Wou to us if God had been as impatient with us as we are with others. Another hinderance is self-seeking;
(6) Mark viii. 38.
- All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's,” (p) and their brethren's. With many, pride is a great impediment. If it were to speak with a great man, and it would not displease him, they would do it. But to go among the poor, and take pains with them in their cottages; where is the person that will do it! Many will rejoice in being instrumental to convert a gentleman, (and they have good reason ;) but overlook the multitude, as if the souls of all were not alike to God. Alas! these met little consider how low Christ stooped to us!. Few rich, and noble, and wise, are called. It is the poor that receive the glad tidings of the gospel.-And with some their ignorance of the duty hindereth them from performing it. Either they know it not to be a duty, or at least not to be their duty. If this be thy case, Reader, I am in hope thou art now ac quainted with thy duty, and will set upon it.
§ 9. Do not object to this duty, that you are unable to manage an exhortation; but either set those on the work who are more able, or faithfully and humbly use the small ability you have, and tell them as a weak man may do, what God says in his word, Decline not the duty, because it is your superior who needs advice and exhortation. Order must be dis pensed with in cases of necessity. Though it be a husband, a' parent, a minister, you must teach hint in such a case. If parents are in want, children must relieve them. If a husband be sick, the wife must fill up his place in family affairs. If the rich are reduced to beggary, they must receive charity. If the physician be sick, somebody must look to him. So the meanest servant must admonish his master, and the child his parent, and the wife her husband, and the people their minister; so that it be done when there is real need, and with all possible humlity, modesty, and meekness.—Do not say, this will make us all preachers; for every good Christian is a teacher, and hath a charge of his neighbour's soul.
(p) Phil. č. 21.
Every man is a physician, when a regular physician cannot be had, and when the hurt is so small that any man may relieve it; and in the same cases, every man must be a teacher. Do not despair of success. Cannot God give it? And must it not be by means? -Do not plead, it will only be casting pearls before swine. When you are in danger to be torn in pieces, Christ would have you forbear: but what is that to you that are in no such danger? As long as they will hear, you have encouragement to speak, and may not cast them off as contemptible swine.-Say not, “It is a friend on whom I much depend, and by telling him his sin and misery, I may lose his love, and be undone." Is his love more to be valued than his safety? or thy own benefit by him than the salvation of his soul? or wilt thou connive at his damnation, because he is thy friend? Is that thy best requital of his friendship? Hadst thou rather he should burn in hell for ever, than thou shouldest lose his favour, or the maintenance thou hast from him? 10 10. (III.) But that all who fear God may be excited to do their utmost to help others to this blessed rest, let me intreat you to consider the following motives. As for instance,-Not only nature, but especially grace, disposes the soul to be communicative of good. Therefore to neglect this work is a sin both against nature and grace. Would you not think him unnatural, that would suffer his children or neighbours to starve in the streets, while he has provision at hand? And is not he more unnatural that will let them eternally perish, and not open his mouth to save them? An unmerciful cruel man is a monster, to be abhorred of all. If God had bid you give them all your estates, or lay down your lives to save them, you would surely have refused, when you will not be stow a little breath to save them. Is not the soul of a husband, or wife, or child, or neighbour, worth a few Words ? Cruelty to men's bodies is a most damnable $i; but to their souls much more, as the soul is of greater worth than the body, and eternity than time. Little know you what many a soul may now be feeling in hell, who died in their sins, for want of your faithful admonition.—Consider what Christ did towards the saving of souls. He thought them worth his blood; and shall we not think them worth our breath! Will you not do a little, where Christ hath done so much:Consider what fit objects of pity ungodly people are. They are dead in trespasses and sins, have not hearts to feel their miseries, nor to pity themselves. If others do not pity them, they will have no pity: for it is the nature of their disease to make them pitiless to themselves, yea, their own most cruel destroyers.—Consider it was once thy own case. It was God's argument to the Israelites, to be kind to strangers, because thernselves had been strangers in the land of Egypt. So should you pity them that are strangers to Christ, and to the hopes and comforts of the saints, because you were once strangers to them yourselves.-Consider your relation to them. It is thy neighbour, thy brother, whom thou art bound to love as thyself. He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth daily, doth not love God whom he never saw. And doth he love his brother, that will see him go to hell, and never hinder him ?
§ 11. Consider what a load of guilt this neglect lays upon thy own soul. Thou art guilty of the murder and damnation of all those souls whom thou dost thus neglect; and of every sin they now commit, and of all the dishonour done. to God thereby; and of all those judgments which their sins bring upon the town or country where they live. Consider what it will be, to look upon your poor friends in eternal flames, and to think that your neglect was a great cause of it. If you should there perish with them, it would be no small aggravation of your torment. I you be in heaven, it would surely be a sad thought, were it possible that any sorrow could dwell there, to hear a multitude of poor souls cry out for ever, “ O, if you would but have told me plainly of my
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