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you not be willing to hear me? And would you not believe and regard what I should tell you? If I might preach one sermon to you after I am dead, and have seen what is done in the world to come, would you not have me plainly speak the truth, and would you not crowd to hear me? And would you not lay it to heart? But this must not be; God has his appointed way of teaching you; and he will not humour unbelievers so far as to send men from the dead to them, and to alter his established way: if any man quarrel with the sun, God will not humour him so far as to set him up a clearer light. Friends, I beseech you regard me now, as you would do if I should come from the dead to you; for I can give you as full assurance of the truth of what I say to you, as if I had been there, and seen it with mine eyes, for it is possible for one from the dead to deceive you; but Jesus Christ can never deceive you: the word of God delivered in scripture, and sealed up by the miracles and holy workings of the Spirit, can never deceive you. Believe this, or believe nothing. Believe, and obey this, or you are undone: now as ever you believe the word of God, and as ever you care for the salvation of your souls, let me beg of you this reasonable request; that you would without further delay, when you are gone hence, remem-, ber what you heard, and enter into an earnest search of your hearts, and say to yourselves,– Is it so indeed? Must I turn or die? Must I be converted or condemned? It is time for me then to look about me, before it be too late. O why did I not look after this till now? Why did I venturously put off so great a business? Was I awake? O blessed God, what a mercy is it thou didst not cut off my life all this while? Well, God for. bid that I should neglect this work any longer. What state is my soul in? Am I converted, or am I not? Was ever such a work done upon my soul? Have I been illuminated by the word and Spirit of the Lord, to see the odiousness of sin, the need of a Saviour, the love of Christ, and the excellencies of God and glory? Is my heart broken, or humbled within me, for my former life? Have I thankfully entertained my Saviour and Lord,
who offered himself with pardon and life to my soul? Do I hate my former sinful life, and the remnant of every sin that is in me? Do I fly from them as my deadly enemies? Do I give up myself to a life of holiness? Do I love it, and delight in it? Can I truly say that I am dead to the world, and that I live for God, and the glory which he has promised ? Has heaven more of my estimation than earth? And is God the dearest and highest in my soul? Once, I am sure, I lived principally to the world and the flesh, and God had nothing but some heartless services, which the world could spare, and which were the leavings of the flesh. Is my heart now turned another way? Have I a new design, and a new end, and a new train of holy affections? Have I set my hopes and heart on heaven? And is it the design of my heart and life, to get well to heaven, and see the glorious face of God, and live in his everlasting love and praise? Do I conquer all gross sins, and am I weary, and willing to be rid of mine infirmities? This is the state of a converted soul. And thus it must be with me, or I must perish. Is it thus with me indeed, or is it not? It is time to get this doubt resolved before the dreadful Judge resolve it. I am not such a stranger to my own heart and life, but I may perceive whether I am thus converted or not; if I be not, it will do me no good to flatter my soul with false hopes. I am resolved no more to deceive myself, but endeavour to know truly, whether I am converted; that if I be, I may rejoice in it, and glorify iny gracious Lord, and comfortably go on till I reach the crown: but if I be not, I may beg and seek after the grace that will convert me, and turn without any more delay; for if I find in time that I am out of the way, by the help of Christ I may turn and be recovered; but if I stay till either my heart be forsaken of God in blindness and hardness, or till I be caught away by death, it is then too late. There is no place for repentance and conversion then: I know it must be now or never.
Sirs, this is my request to you, that you will but take your hearts to task, and thus examine them till
you see, if it may be whether you are converted or not? It undoes many thousands, that they think they are in the way to salvation, when they are not; and that they are converted, when it is no such thing. And then, when we call to them daily to turn, they think this concerns not them; for they are turned already, and hope they shall do well enough in the way that they are in, when, alas! all this while they live to the world and flesh, and are strangers to God and eternal life. And all this, because we cannot persuade them
to spend a few hours in the examining of their states. , Are there not many self-deceiving wretches that hear
me this day, who never bestowed one hour in all their lives, to examine their souls, and try whether they were truly converted or not? O merciful God, who will care for such wretches, that care no more for themselves? If all that are in the state of damnation did but know it, they durst not continue in it. The greatest hope that the devil has of bringing you to damnation without a rescue, is by keeping you blindfold, and making you believe that you may do well enough in the way that you are in. If you knew that you were lost for ever, if you should die as you are; durst you sleep another night in the state that you are in? Durst you live another day in it? Could you laugh, or be merry, in such a state? What! and not know but you may be snatched away to hell in an hour! Sure it would constrain you to forsake your former company and courses, and to betake yourselves to the ways of holiness. Sure it would drive you to cry to God for a new heart, and to seek help of those who are fit to counsel you. There is none of you, sure, that cares not for being damned. Well then, I beseech you, presently make inquiry into your hearts, and give them no rest, till you find out your condition; that if it be good, you may rejoice in it, and go on; and if it be bad, you may presently look about you for recovery, as men that believe they must turn or die. What say you? Will you resolve, and promise to be at so much Jabour for your own souls? Will you fall upon this self-examination when you go home? Is my request
unreasonable? Your consciences know, it is not ; resolve on it then, before you''stir!" knowing how much it concerns your souls. I beseech you for the sake of that God who does command you,' at whose bar you will shortly all appear, that you will not deny me this reasonable request. For the sake of those souls that must turn or die, I beseech you deny me not; make it your business to understand your own conditions, and build upon sure ground, and know for certainty, whether you are converted' or not; and venture not your 'own' souls on negligent security.
But perhaps you will say, What if we should find ourselves yit unconverted, what shall we do then? This question leads me to my second doctrine. w
DOCTRINE II. :1 .In
' . .'!!' ' It is the promise of God, that the wicked shall live, if
- they will turn to him. ?,''?Iiri The Lord here professes that this is what he takes pleasure in, that the wicked turn and live. Turn and live, is 'as certain a' truth as turn or die. Şinners, there are none of you who shall have cause to go home, and say I preach despair to you. Are we used to shut up the door of mercy against you? O that you would not shut it up against yourselves! Are we used to tell you that God will have no inercy on you though you turn? When did you hear a preacher say such a word? You that bark at the preachers of the gospel for desiring to keep you out of hell, and say that they preach despair; tell me, when did you ever hear any sober man såy, that there is no hope for you, though you repent and be converted ? No, it is quite the contrary which we daily proclaim from the Lord; that whoever is born again, shall be saved: so far are we from 'persuading you to despair o: this, that we persuadě vou not to make any doubt it. It is life and
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not death, which is the first part of our message to you; our commission is to offer salvation, a speedy, glorious, everlasting salvation, to every one of you: to the poorest beggar as well as to the greatest lord; to the worst of you, even to drunkards, swearers, thieves, yea, to the despisers and reproachers of the holy way of salvation : we are commanded by the Lord our Master to offer you a pardon for all that is past, if you will now at last return and live; we are commanded to beseech and entreat you to accept the offer, and to tell you what preparation is made by Christ, what mercy stays for you, what patience waiteth on you, what thoughts of kindness God has towards you, and how happy, how certainly and unspeakably happy, you may be if you will. We have indeed also a mes. sage of wrath and death, yea, of a two-fold wrath and death; but neither of them is our principal message: we must tell you of the wrath that is on you already, and the death that you are born under; but this is only to show you the need of mercy. For who will seek out for physic, that knows not he is sick? Our telling you of your misery, is not that which makes you miserable, but that which drives you to seek for mercy. It is you that have brought this death upon yourselves. We tell you also of another death, and much greater torment, which will fall on those who will not be converted. But as this is true, so it is but the last and saddest part of our message. We are first to offer you mercy, if you will turn: and it is only those that will not turn, nor hear the voice of mercy, to whom we must foretell damnation. If you will cast away your transgressions, and come at the call of Christ, and be converted, we have not a word of damning wrath, or death, to speak against you. I do here in the name of the Lord of life proclaim to you all, to the worst of you, to the greatest, to the oldest sinner, that you may have mercy and salvation if you will but turn. There is mercy in God; there is sufficiency in the satisfaction of Christ; the promise is free, and full, and universal; you may have life, if you will but turn. But "hen, as you love your souls, remember