תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

sees that all things else are vanity; and nothing but God can fill the soul: and therefore let the world go which way it will, he lays up his treasures and hopes in heaven; and for that he is resolved to let go all. As the fire mounts upward, and the needle that is touched with the loadstone turns to the north ; so the converted soul is inclined to God. Nothing else can satisfy him ; nor can he find any content and rest but in his love. In a word, all that are converted, esteem and love God better than all the world, and the heavenly felicity is dearer to them than their fleshly prosperity.

Secondly, A wicked man is one that makes it the principal business of his life, to prosper in the world, and attain his fleshly ends. And though he may read, and hear, and do much in the outward duties of religion, and forbear disgraceful sins; yet this is but by the by, and he never makes it the business of his life to please God, and attain everlasting glory. He puts of God with the leavings of the world, and gives him no more service than the flesh can spare.

On the contrary, a converted man is one that makes the principal business of his life to please God, and to be saved; and takes all the blessings of this life, but as accommodations in his journey towards another life, and uses the creature in subordination to God: he loves a holy life, and longs to be more holy; he has no sin but what he hates, and longs, and prays, and strives to be rid of. The bent of his life is for God; and if he sin, it is contrary to the bent of his heart and life, and therefore he rises again, and laments it, and dares not wil. fully live in any known sin. There is nothing in this world so dear to him, but he can give it up to God, and forsake it for the hopes of glory.

Thirdly, The soul of a wicked man did never truly discern and relish the mystery of redemption, nor thankfully entertain an offered Saviour, nor is he taken up with the love of the Redeemer, nor willing to be ruled by him, that he may be saved from the guilt and power of his sins, and recovered unto God: but his heart is insensible of this unspeakable benefit, and is quite against

and tans in his jo bordinat

the healing means by which he should be recovered. He never resigns up his soul to Christ, and to the motions and conduct of his word and Spirit.

On the contrary, the converted soul, having felt himself undone by sin, and perceiving that he has lost his peace with God, and hopes of heaven, and is in danger of everlasting misery, does thankfully entertain the tidings of redemption; and believing in the Lord Jesus as his only Saviour, resigns up himself to him for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.He takes Christ as the life of his soul, and lives by him, and uses him as a salve for every sore, admiring the wisdom and love of God in this wonderful work of man's redemption. In a word, Christ does even dwell in his heart by faith, and the life which he now lives is by faith in the Son of God, who has loved him, and given himself for him. Yea, it is not so much he that lives as Christ in him. • You see now, who are the wicked, and who are the converted. Ignorant people think, that if a man be no swearer, or curser, or railer, or drunkard, or fornicator, or extortioner, nor wrong any body in his dealings, and if he go to church, and say his prayers, he cannot be a wicked man. Or if a man who has been guilty of drunkenness, swearing, or the like vices, do but forbear them, they think that this is a converted man. Others think, if a man who has been an enemy and scorner of religion, do but approve it, and join hinself with good men, and be hated for it by the wicked, this must needs be a converted man. And some are so foolish as to think they are converted, by taking up some new opinion; or by falling into some party, as Anabaptists, Quakers, Papists, or such like. And some think, 1 they have but been affrighted by the fears of hell, and thereupon have purposed and promised amendment, and taken up a life of civil behaviour and outward religion, this must needs be true conversion. And these are the poor deluded souls that are like to lose the benefit of all our persuasions: and when they hear that the wicked must turn or die, they think that this is not spoken to them; for they are not wicked, but are turned already. And therefore it is that Christ told some of the rulers of the Jews, who were more moral and civil than the common people, that publicans and hurlots go into the kingdom of God before them.(i) Not that a harlot or gross sinner can be saved without conversion; but because it was easier to make those gross sinners perceive their sin, and the necessity of a change.

O sirs, conversion is another kind of work than most are aware of: it is not a small matter to show man the amiable excellencies of God, till he be taken up with such love to him as cannot easily be quenched; to break the heart for sin, and make him fly for refuge to Christ, and thankfully embrace him as the life of his soul; to have the very bent of the heart and life changed; so that he renounces that which he took for his felicity, and places his felicity where he never did before; and lives not to the same end, and drives not on the same design in the world, as he formerly did. He that is in Christ is a new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things are become new.(k) He has a new understanding, a new will and resolution, new sorrows, and desires, and love, and delight; new thoughts, new speeches, new company (if possible), and a new conversation. Sin, which before was a jesting matter with him, is now so odious, that he flies from it, as from death. The world, which was so lovely in his eyes, does now appear but as vanity and vexation: God, who was before neglected, is now the only happiness of his soul: before he was forgotten; but now he is set next the heart, and all things must give place to him; and the heart is taken up in the attendance and observance of him; and is grieved when he hides his face, and never thinks itself well without him. Christ himself, who was wont to be slightly thought of, is now his only hope and refuge, and he lives upon him, as on his daily bread; he cannot pray without him, nor rejoice without him, nor think, nor speak, nor live, without him. Heaven itself, which before was looked upon but as a tolerable reserve, which

[blocks in formation]

he hoped might serve better than hell when he could not stay any longer in the world, is now taken for his home, the place of his only hope and rest, where he shall see, and love, and praise that God, who has bis heart already. The Bible, which was before to him but as a common book, is now as the law of God, as a letter written to him from heaven, and subscribed with the name of the eternal Majesty; it is the rule of his thoughts, and words, and deeds; the commands are binding, and the promises of it speak life to bis soul. In short, he has a new end in his thoughts, and a new way in his endeavours, and therefore his heart and life are new. So that this is not a change in one, or two, or twenty points; but in the whole soul and conversation.

Do you believe this, sirs, or do you not? Surely you dare not say you do not. These are not controversies, where one pious man is of one mind, and another of another; all Christians are agreed in this; and if you will not believe the God of truth, and that in a case where every sect and party believe him, you are utterly inexcuseable.

But if you do believe this, how comes it to pass that you live so quietly in an unconverted state? Do you know that you are converted? Can you find this wonderful change upon your souls? Have you been thus born again, and made anew? If you cannot tell the day or week of your change, do you find that the work is done? and that you have such hearts as are before described? Alas! the most follow their worldly business, and little trouble their mind with such thoughts. And if they be but restrained from scandalous sins, and can say, I am no whoremonger, or thief, or curser, or swearer, or tipler, or extortioner, 1 go to church and say my prayers; they think this true conversion, and they shall be saved as well as any. Alas! this is a foolish cheating of yourselves. This is too gross neglect of your immortal souls. Can you make so light of heaven and hell? Your corpses will shortly lie in the dust, and angels or devils will presently seize upon your souls, and every man and woman

of you all will shortly be among other company, and in another case than now you are; you will dwell in those houses but a little longer; you will work in your shops, and fields, but a little longer; you will sit in these seats, and dwell on this earth, but a little longer; you will see with these eyes, and hear with those ears, and speak with those tongues, but a little longer: and can you forget this? O what a place will you be shortly in of joy or torment! O what a sight will you shortly see in heaven or hell! O what thoughts will shortly fill your hearts with unspeakable delight or horror!-What work will you be employed in? To praise the Lord with saints and angels, or to cry out in fire unquenchable with devils? And should all this be forgotten? And all this will be endless, and sealed up by an unchangeable decree. Eternity, eternity, will be the measure of your joys or sorrows; and can this be forgotten? And all this is true, most certainly true: when you have gone up and down a little longer, and slept and awaked a few times more, you will be dead and gone, and find all true which now I tell you. And can you now forget it? You shall then remember, that you heard this sermon, and that on this day, and in this place, you were remembered of these things; and yet shall they be now so much forgotten?

Beloved, if the Lord had not awakened me to believe and lay to heart these things myself, I should have perished for ever: but if he has made me sensible of them, it will constrain me to compassionate you. If your eyes were so far opened as to see hell, and you saw your neighbours, that were unconverted, dragged thither with hideous cries, though they were such as you accounted honest people on earth; such a sight would make you warn all about you, lest they should go to that place of torment. Why, faith is a kind of sight; it is the eye of the soul, the evidence of things not seen : if I believe God, it is next to seeing; and therefore I beseech vou excuse me, if I be as earnest with you about these matters, as if I had seen them. If I were to die to-morrow, and it were in my power to come again from another world, and tell you what I had seen; would

« הקודםהמשך »