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What reason have you wilfully to perish? If you think you have some reason to sin, should you not remember, that death is the wages of sin? And think whether you have any reason to undo yourselves, body and soul, for ever. You should not only ask whether you love the adder, but whether you love the sting? It is such a thing for a man to cast away his everlasting happiness, that no good reason can be given for it; but the more any one pleads for it, the madder he shows himself to be. Had you a lordship, or a kingdoin, offered you for every sin that you commit, it were not reason, but madness, to accept it. Could you by every sin obtain the highest thing on earth that flesh desires, it were of no considerable value to persuade you to commit it. If it were to please your greatest or dearest friends, or to obey the greatest prince on earth, or to save your lives, or to escape the greatest earthly misery; all these are of no consideration, to draw a man to the committing of one sin. If it were a right hand, or a right eye, that would hinder your salvation, it is the gainfullest way to cut it off, or pluck it out. For there is no saving a part where you lose the whole. So exceeding great are the matters of eternity, that nothing in this world deserves to be named in comparison with them; nor can any earthly thing, though it were life, or crowns, or kingdoms, be a reasonable excuse for the neglect of matters of everlasting consequence. Heaven is such a thing, that if you lose it, nothing can supply the want, or make up your loss; and hell is such a thing, that if you suffer it, nothing can remove your misery, or give you ease and comfort. And therefore nothing can be a valuable consideration to excuse you for neglecting your own salvation: What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
O that you did but know what matters they are which we are now speaking of! There is never a soul in hell but knows, by this time, that it was a mad exchange to let go heaven for fleshly pleasure; and
that it is not a little mirth, or pleasure, or worldly riches, or honour, that will make him a saver that loses his soul.
If you see a man put his hand into the fire till it burn off, you will marvel at it; but this is a thing which a man may have reason for; as Bishop Cranmer had, when he burnt off his hand for subscribing to popery. If you see a man cut off a leg, or an arm, it is a sad sight: but this is a thing that a man may have good reason for; as many a man does, to save his life. If you see a man give his body to be burnt to ashes, and refuse deliverance when it is offered ; this is a hard case to flesh and blood: but this a man may have good reason for; as many hundred martyrs have done. But for a man to run into the fire of hell; this is a thing which can have no reason in the world to justify it. For heaven will pay for the loss of any thing we can lose to get it, or for any labour which we bestow for it. But nothing can pay for the loss of heaven.
I beseech you now, let his ward come nearer to your hearts. As you are convinced that you have no reason to destroy yourselves, tell me what reason have you, refuse to turn, and live to God? What reason has the most ignorant careless sinner of you all, why he should not be as careful of his soul as any other? Will not hell be as hot to you as to others? Should not your own souls be as dear to you, as theirs to them? Has not God as much authority over you? Why then will you not become a sanctified people, as well as they?
And now either you have reason for what you do, or you have not. If not, will you go on against reason itself? But if you think you have, reason the case a little with me, your fellow creature, which is far easier than to reason the case with God. Tell me, man, here before the Lord, as if thou wert to die this hour, why shouldst thou not resolve to turn this day, before thou stir from the place thou standest in? What reason hast thou to deny, or to delay? Hast thou any
reason that satisfies thige own conscience for it? Or any that thou darest plead at the bar of God? If thou hast, let us hear them, bring them forth. But, alas! what nonsense, instead of reasons, do we daily hear from ungodly men!
1. One says, If none shall be saved but such sanctified ones as you talk of, heaven will be but empty: God help a great many.
What! It seems you think that God does not know, or else that he is not to be believed! Measure not all by yourselves: God has thousands and millions of his sanctified ones; but yet they are few in comparison of the world. It better becomes you to make that use of this truth which Christ teaches you: Ştrive to enter in at the strait gate: for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.
Object. 2. I am sure if such as I go to hell, we shall have store of company.. · Ans. And will that be any ease or comfort to you? or do you think you may, not have company enough in heaven? Will you be done for company? Or will you not believe that God will execute his threatenings, because there are so many that are guilty?
Object. 3. But I am no, whoremonger, nor drunk. ard, nor oppressor; and therefore wby should you call upon me to be converted?
Ans. As if you were not born after the flesh, and not lived after the flesh, as well as others! Is it not as great a sin as any of these, for a man to have an earthly mind, and to love the world above God, and to have an unbelieving, unhumbled beart? Nay, let me tell you more, that many persons who avoid disgraceful sins, are as fast glued to the world, and as ipucl slaves to the flesh, and as great strangers to God, and averse to heaven, as others are in their more shaneful notorious sins.
Object. 4. But I mean nobody any harm, nor
do any harm; and why then should God condemn me?
Ans, Is it no harın to neglect the Lord that made thee, and the work for which thou camest into the world, and to prefer the creature before the Creator, and to neglect grace which is daily offered thee? It is the depth of thy sinfulness to be so insensible of it: the dead feel not that they are dead. If once thou wert alive, thou wouldst see enough amiss in thyself, and marvel at thyself for making so light of it.
Object. 5. I think you would make men mad, under pretence of converting them.
Ans. 1. Can you be madder than you are already? or, at least can, there be a more dangerous madness, than to neglect your everlasting welfare, and wilfully undo yourselves ?
A man is never well in his wits till he be converted; he never knows God, nor knows sin, nor knows Christ, nor knows the world, nor himself, nor what his business is on earth, so as to set himself about it. Is it a wise world, when men will run into hell for fear of being out of their wits?
2. What is there in the work which Christ calls you to, that should drive a inan out of his senses? Is it the loving God, and calling upon him, and thinking of glory to come, and the forsaking our sips, and loving one another, and delighting ourselves in the service of God? Are these such things as make men mad?
3. And whereas you say that these matters are too high for us; are the matters which we are made for, and which we live for, too high for us to meddle with?' This is plainly to unman us, and to make beasts of us, as if we were like them that must meddle with no higher matters than what belong to flesh and earth. If heaven be too high for you to think on, it will be too high for you ever to possess.
4. If God should sometimes suffer any weak-headed persons to be distracted by thinking of eternal
1400 high led to makile with her things; this is because they misunderstand them, and run without a guide. But of the two, I had rather be in the case of such a one, than in that of the mad unconverted world, who take their distraction to be their wisdom.
Object. 6. I do not see that it goes any better with those that are so godly, than with other men. They are as poor, and in as much trouble, as others.
Ans. And perhaps in much more, when God sees it meet, They take not earthly prosperity for their wages. They have laid up their treasures in another world, or else they are not Christians. The less they have, the more is behind; and they are content to wait till then.
Object. 7. When you have said all that you can, I am resolved to hope well, and trust in God, and do as well as I can, and not make so much ado.
Ans. 1. Is that doing as well as you can, when you will not turn to God, but your heart is against his holy service? It is as well as you will, indeed: but that is your misery.
2. My desire is that you should hope in God: but for what is it that you will hope? Is it to be saved, if you turn and be sanctified ? For this you have God's promise ; and therefore hope for it, and spare not. — But if you hope to be saved without conversion; this is not to hope in God, but in Satan. For God has given you no such promise, but told you the contrary: but it is Satan that made you such promises, and raised you to such hopes.
What say you, Unconverted Sinners? Have you any good reason to give, why you should not turn, and presently turn, with all your hearts? Or will you go to hell in spite of reason itself? Consider what you do in time, for it will shortly be too late to consider. Can you find any fault with God, or his work, or wages ? Is he a bad master? Is the devil, whom you serve, a better? Is there any harm in a holy life? Is a life of ungodliness better? Do you think in your consciences that it would do you any harm to be con