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what turning it is which the scripture speaks of. It is not to mend the old house, but to pull down all, and build anew, on Christ, the rock and sure foundation.
Yourselves are witnesses now, that it is salvation, and not damnation, which is the great doctrine I preach to you; and the first part of my message to you. Accept of this, and we shall go no farther; for we would not trouble you with the name of damnation, without necessity.
But if you will not be saved, there is no remedy, but damnation must take place. For there is no middle place between the two: you must have either life or death.
And we are not only to offer you life, but to show you the grounds on which we do it, and call you to believe that God does mean, indeed, as he speaks; that the promise is true, and extends conditionally to you as well as others.
If you ask, where is our commission for this offer? among a hundred texts of scripture, I will show it to you in these few.
First, you see it here in my text, and the following verses, and in the 18th of Ezekiel, as plain as can be spoken. And in 2 Cor. v. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, you have the very sum of our commission: If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given tous the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then • we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled unto God: for he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
You see that we are commanded to offer life unto you all, and to tell you from God, that if you will turn you may live.
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Here you may safely trust your souls; 'for the love of God is the fountain of this offer, (I) and the blood of the Son of God has purchased it'; the faithfulness and truth of God are engaged to make the promise good; miracles have sealed the truth of it; preachers are sent through the world to, proclaim it; the sacraments are instituted for the solemn delivery of the mercy offered to them that will accept it; and the Spirit opens the heart to entertain it, and is itself the earnest of the full possession. So, that the truth of it is past controversy, that the worst of you all, and every one of you, if you will but be converted, may be saved.
Indeed, if you believe that you shall be saved without conversion, then you believe a falsehood; and if I should preach that to you, I should preach a lie: this were not to believe God, but the devil'and your own deceitful hearts. God has his promise of life, and the devil has his promise of life. God's promise is, return cand live; the devil's promise is, you shall live whether you turn or not. The works of God are as I have showed you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.(m) Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.(n). Without holiness none shall see God.(o) The devil's word, You may be saved ; without being born again or converted; you may do well enough without being holy: God does but frighten you, he is more merciful than to do as he says, he will be better to you than his word,' , And, alas! the great- est part of the world believes this word of the devil,
before the word of God; just as our first sin and wmisery came into the world. God said to our first parents, If ye eat, ye shall die. And the devil contradicts him, and says, Ye shall not die; and the wo- man believed him before God. So now the Lord saith, Turn or die: and the devil says, You shall not die, if you do but cry to God for mercy at last. And this is the word which the world believes. , 0 heinous wickedness, to believe the devil before God!.... in
world Godi, God
(1) John üi. 16. (m) Matt. xviii. S. (11) John iii. 3,5. (0) Heb. xü. 14.
en the hearte word of Göand trusting Go
And yet, that is not the worst; but blasphemously they call this a believing and trusting God, when they put him in the shape of Satan, who was a liar from the beginning; and when they believe that the word of God is a lie, they call this a trusting God, and say they believe in him, and trust in himn for salvation, Where did ever God say, that the unconverted shall be saved? Show me such a word in scripture. I challenge you if you can. Why, this is the devil's word, and to believe it, is to believe the devil. And do you call this believing, and trusting God? There is enough in the word of God to comfort and strengthen the hearts of the sanctified: but not a word to strengthen the hands of wickedness, or to give men the least hope of being saved, though 'they be never sanctified.
But if you will turn, and come into the way of mercy, the mercy of the Lord' is ready to entertain you. Then trust God for salvation, boldly and confidently:. for he is engaged by his word to save you. He will be a father to none but his children, and he will save none but those that forsake the world, the devil, and the flesh, and come into his family to be members of his Son, and have communion with his saints. But if they will not come in, it is their own fault: his doors are open. He keeps none back: he is still ready to receive you, if you were but ready unfeignedly, and with all your hearts, to turn. And the fulness of this truth will yet more appear in the two following doctrines..
DOCTRINE III. God takes pleasure in men's conversion, and salvation;
but not in their death or damnation: he had rather they would turn and live, than go on and die.
For the proof of this point, I shall be very brief, because I suppose you believe it already.
1. The gracious nature of God has proclaimed and frequently assured you of this; that he has no pleasure in your death.
2. If God had more pleasure in thy death, than in thy conversion and life, he would not have so frequently commanded thee in his word to turn; he would not have made thee such promises of life, if thou wilt turn; would not have persuaded thee to it by so many reasons. The tenor of his gospel proves the point.
3. And his commission, which he has given to the · ministers of the gospel, does fully prove it. If God · had taken more pleasure in thy damnation, than in thy
conversion and salvation, he would never have charged us to offer you mercy, and to teach you the way of - life, both publicly and privately; and to entreat, and beseech you to turn and live: to acquaint you with your sins, and tell you of your danger; and to do all that possibly we can for your conversion, and to continue patiently so doing, though you should hate or abuse us for our pains. Would God have done this, if he had taken pleasure in your death? .
4. It is proved also by the course of his providence. If God had rather you were damned, than saved, he would not second his word with his works, and entice you by his daily kindness, and give you all the mercies of this life, which are means to lead you to repentance, (h) and bring you so often under his rod, to force you into your wits: he would not set so many examples before your eyes, no, nor wait on you so patiently as he does from day to day, and year to year. These are
(h) Rom. ij. 4.
not signs of one that takes pleasure in your death. It this had been his delight, how easily could he have had thee long ago in hell! How oft before this could he have snatched thee away in the midst of thy sins, with a curse, or oath, or lie in thy mouth! When thou wast last in thy drunkenness, or deriding the ways of God; how easily could he have stopt thy breath, and made thee sober in another world! Alas! how small a matter is it for the Almighty to rule the tongue of the profanest railer, and tie the hands of the most malicious persecutor, or calm the fury of the bitterest of his enemies, and make them know they are but worms! If he did but frown upon thee, thou wouldst drop into the grave. If he gave commission to one of his angels to go and destroy ten thousand sinners, how quickly would it be done! How easily can he lay thee upon the bed of languishing, and make thee lie roaring there in pain, and eat the words of reproach which thou hast spoken against his servants, his word, his worship, and his holy ways! How easily can he lay that flesh under groans, and make it more loathsome than the dung of the earth! That flesh, which now must have what it loves, and must not be displeased, tho' God be displeased! and must be humoured in meat and drink, and clothed, whatever God say to the contrary. How quickly would the frown of God consume it! When thou wast passionately defending thy sin, and quarrelling with them that would have drawn thee from it, and pleading for the works of darkness; how easily could, God have snatched thee away in a moment, and set thee before his dreadful majesty, (where thou shouldst see ten thousand times ten thousand glorious angels waiting on his throne,) and have asked thee, What hast thou now to say against thy Creator, bis truth, bis servants, or his holy ways? Now plead thy cause, and make the best of it thou canst. Now what canst thou say in excuse for thy sins? Now give account of thy time, and of all the mercies thou hast had. O how thy stubborn heart would have melted, and thy