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fess that they are sinners; and this they take for true repentance, —when sin was never mortified in their souls, nor their hearts ever brought to hate it, and forsake it. But when they have had the profit and pleasure of sin, they are sorry for the danger; but never regenerated and made new creatures by the Spirit of Christ. Hence also it is, that we have such abun. dance of mere opinionists, that take themselves for religious people. Because they have changed their opinions, and their parties, and can prate contentiously against those that are not of their mind; and joining themselves with those that seem to be the strictest, they take themselves to be truly sanctified: and this makes such gadding from one opinion to another, and such censuring, reviling, and divisions, upon the account; because their religion is most in their opinions, and hath not mortified their carnal selfish inclinations and passions, nor brought them to a holy heavenly mind. Hence also it is that we have so many sensual scandalous professors, that seem to be religious, but bridle not their tongue, their appetites, or their lusts; but are railers, or backbiters, or tiplers, or gluttons, or filthy and lascivious, or some way scandalous to their holy profession; because they are strangers to a thorough conversion, but take up with the counterfeit of a superficial change. Hence also we have so many worldlings, that think thepiselves religious men; that make Christ but a servant to their worldly interests, and seek heaven but for a reserve, when earth forsakes them; and have some thing in this world that is so dear to them, that they cannot forsake it for the hopes of glory; but give up themselves to Christ, with secret exceptions and reserves, for their prosperity in the world : and all, because they never knew a sound conversion, which should have rooted off their hearts this worldly interest, and delivered them up entirely and absolutely to Christ. Hence also it is that we have so few professors that can lay by their pride, and bear digesteem or injury, and love their enemies, and bless them that curse them, yea, or love their godly friends that cross them, or dishonour them. And so few that can deny themselves in their honour, or any considerable thing: for the sake of Christ, and in obedience and confor. mity to his will. And all because they never had that saving change that takes down self, and sets up Christ as sovereign in the soul. And hence also it is, that we have in this age so many dreadful instances of apostasy; so many reproaching the scripture, that once they thought had converted them; and the way of holiness, that once they did profess; and denying the Lord himself that bought them; and all because they formerly took up with a superficial, counterfeit conversion. O how cominonly, and how lamentably, doth this misery appear among professors in their unsavoury discourse, their strife and envy on religious pretences, their dead formality, their passionate divisions, or their selfish, proud, and earthly minds !-A thorough conversion would have cured all this, at least as to the dominion of it.
I shall therefore, in the ensuing treatise, first endeavour to awaken careless sinners, and persuade the obstinate to turn and live; and, secondly, speak to those that seem to be about the work; and give them some directions and persuasions, to prevent their perishing in the birth, and so to prevent that hypocrisy which else they are like to be formed into, and the deceit of their hearts, the error of their lives, and the misery at their death which is like to follow. That they live not as those that flatter God with their mouth, and lie unto him with their tongues, because their heart was not right with bim, neither are they stedfast in his covenantLest denying deep entertainment and rooting to the seed of life, or choking it by the radicated predominant love and cares of the world, they wither when the heat of persecution shall break forth; and lest, building on the sands, they fall when the winds and storms arise, and their fall be great. And so they go out from us, that they may be made manifest that they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. Look therefore to this great, important business, and give all di. ligence to make your calling and election sure. And trust not your hearts too easily, or too confidently. But turn to the Lord with all your hearts. Cleave to him resolvedly, or with purpose of heart. And see that you sell all, and buy the pearl. And stick not at the price, but absolutely resign yourselves to Christ, and turn to him, as Zaccheus and other primitive converts did, surrendering all that you have unto his will. Leave not any root of bitterness behind; make no exceptions or reserves, but deny yourselves; forsake all, and follow him that hath led you this self-denying way; and trust to his blood, and merits, and promise, for a treasure in heaven and then yon are his disciples, and true Christians indeed. Reader, if thou heartily make this covenant, and keep it, thou shalt find that Christ will not deceive thee, when the world deceiveth them that choose it, in their greatest extremity. But if thou draw back, and think these terms too hard, remember that everlasting life was offered thee, and remenuber why and for what thou didst reject it. And if in this life-time thou wilt have thy good things, expect to be tormented, when the believing, self-denying souls, are comforted.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel ?
IT has been the wonder of many, to read in the holy scripture how few will be saved; and that the greatest part even of those that are called, will be shut out of heaven, and tormented with the devils in eternal fire. Infidels believe not this, and therefore must feel it. Those that do believe it, are forced to cry out with St. Paul, O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, ind his ways past finding out!(a) But nature itself teaches us all to lay the blame of evil works upon the doers; and therefore when we see any heinous thing committed, a principle of justice provokes us to inquire ifter him that did it. If we saw a man killed and cut n pieces by the way, we should presently ask, O who lid this cruel deed? If a town were set on fire, you vould ask, What wicked wretch did this? So when we ead that the most will be fire-brands of hell for ever, ve must needs think with ourselves, How comes this o pass? Who is it that is so cruel as to be the cause of uch a thing as this? And we can meet with few that rill own the guilt; it is indeed confessed by all that Sain is the cause: but that resolves not the doubt, because e is not the principal cause. He does not force men to in, but tempts them to it, and leaves it to their own rills, whether they will do it or not. It lies therefore
* Rom. xi. 33.
between God himself and the sinner; one of them must be the principal cause of all this misery; for there is no other to cast it upon: and God disclaims it; he will not take it upon him: and the wicked disclaim it usually, and they will not take it upon them. And this is the controversy which is here carried on in my text.
The Lord complains of the people; and the people think it is the fault of God. They say, ver. 10. If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how shall we then live? As if they should say, If we must die, how can we help it? As if it were not their fault, but God's. But God, in my text, clears himself of it, and tells them how they may help it if they will, and persuades them to use the means; and if they will not be persuaded, he lets them know that it is their own fault; and if this will not satisfy them, he will not therefore forbear to punish them. It is he that will be the judge; and he will judge them according to their ways: they are no judges of him or of themselves, as wanting authority, and wisdom, and impartiality: nor is it the cavilling with God, that shall serve their turn, or save them froin the execution of justice.
The words of this verse contain, 1. God's clearing of himself from the blame of their destruction. This he does not by disowning his law, that the wicked shall die; nor by disowning his execution according to that law, or giving them any hope that the law shall not be executed; but by professing that it is not their death that he takes pleasure in, but their returning rather, that they may live: and this he confirms to them by his oath.—2. An express exhortation to the wicked to return; wherein God does not only command, but persuade, and condescend also to reason the case with them. Why will they die? The direct end of this exhortation is, That they may turn, and live. The secondary ends, upon supposition that this is not attained, are these two: First, to convince them, that it is not the fault of God if they be miserable. Secondly, to convince them, from their manifest wilfulness in rejecting all his commands and persuasions, that it is their own fault; and they die, even because they will die.