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verted, and live a holy life? What harm can it do you? Is it harm to you to have the Spirit of Christ within you? and to have a purified heart? Is it evil to be like God? Is it not said that God made man in his image? Why, this holiness is his image: this Adam lost, and this Christ by his word and Spirit would restore to you, as he does to all that will be saved. Tell me truly, as before the Lord; though you are loth to live a holy life, had you not rather die in the case of those that do so, than of others? If you were to die this day, had you not rather die in the case of a converted man, than of the unconverted ? of a holy and heavenly man, than of a carnal earthly man? And would you not say as Balaam, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!(z) And why will you not now be of the mind which you will be of then? First or last, you must come to this; either to be converted, or to wish you had been, when it is too late.
But what is that you are afraid of losing, if you turn? Is it your friends? You will but change them: God will be your friend, and Christ and the Spirit will be your friend, and every Christian will be your friend. You will get one Friend that will stand you in more stead than all the friends in the world could have done. The friends you lose would but have enticed you to hell, but could not have delivered you: but the Friend you get will save you from hell, and bring you to eternal rest.
Is it your pleasures that you are afraid of losing ? You think you shall never have a merry day again, if once you be converted. Alas, that you should think it a greater pleasure to live in foolish sports and merriments, than live in the love of God, and in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. If it be a greater pleasure to you to think of your lands and inheritance, (if you were lord of all the country,) than it is to a child to play for pins; why should it not be a greater joy for you to think of the kingdom of heaven
(z) Numb. xxiii. 10.
being yours, than of all the riches or pleasures of the world ? I have had myself but a little taste of the heavenly pleasures in the fore-thoughts of the blessed day, and in the present persuasion of the love of God in Christ; but I have taken too deep a draught of earthly pleasures: and yet I must profess, from that little experience, that there is no comparison: there is more joy to be had in a day (if the Sun of life shine clear upon us) in the state of holiness, than in a whole life of sinful pleasures. It is but your unsanctified nature, that makes a holy life seem grievous to you. If you will but turn, the Holy Ghost will give you another nature, and then it would be more pleasant to you to be rid of your sin, than now it is to keep it: and you will then say, that you knew not what a comfortable life was till now, and that it was never well with you till God and holiness were your delight.
If, after all this, men will not turn, it is not the fault
of God that they are condemned, but of themselves, even their own wilfulness. They die because they will die; that is, because they will not turn.
If you will go to hell, what remedy! God here acquits himself of your blood: it shall not lie on him, if you be lost. A negligent minister may draw it upon himself; and those that encourage you, or hinder you not in sin, may draw it upon themselves: but be sure of it, it shall not lie upon God. The Lord says concerning his unprofitable vineyard, Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? (a) What could he have done more? He has made you men, and endued you with reason: he has furnished you with all external necessaries, all creatures
(a) Isa. v. 3, 4.
are at your service; he has given you a righteous, perfect law. When you had broken it, and undone yourselves, he had pity on you, and sent his Son, by a miracle of condescending mercy, to die for you, and be a sacrifice for your sins, and he was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The Lord Jesus has made you a deed of gift of himself, and eternal life with him, on the condition you will but accept it, and return. He has on this reasonable condition offered you the free pardon of all your sins; he has written this in his word, and sealed it by his Spirit, and sent it you by his ministers: they have made the offer to you a hundred, and a hundred times, and called you to accept it, and turn to God. They have in his name entreated you, and reasoned the case with you, and answered all your frivolous objections. He has long waited on you, and staid your leisure, and suffered you to abuse him to his face. He has mercifully sustained you in the midst of your sins: he has compassed you about with all sorts of mercies; he has also intermixed afflictions to remind you of your fólly, and call you to your senses: and his Spirit has been often striving with your hearts, and saying, “ Turn, sinner, turn to him that calls thee? Whither art thou going? What art thou doing? Dost thou know what will be the end? How long wilt thou hate thy friends, and love thine enemies? When wilt thou let go all, and turn, and deliver up thyself to God, and give thy Redeemer the possession of thy soul? When shall it once be?” These pleadings have been used with thee. And when thou hast delayed, thou hast been urged to make haste, and God has called to thee, To-day, while it is called to-day, harden not your heart: Why not now, without any more delay ? Life has been set before you, the joys of heaven have been opened to you in the gospel; the certainty of them has been manifested; the certainty of the everlasting torments of the damned has been declared to you. Unless you would have had a sight of heaven and hell, what could you have desired more? Christ
has been, as it were, set forth crucified before your eyes. You have been a hundred times told, that you are but lost men till you come to him: as often you have been told of the evil of sin, of the vanity of sin, the world, and all the pleasures and wealth it can afford; of the shortness and uncertainty of your lives, and the endless duration of the joy or.torment of the life to come. All this, and more than this, have you been told, and told again; and though all this has not converted you, yet you are alive, and might have mercy, this day, if you had but hearts to entertain it. And now let reason itself be judge—whether it be the fault of God or you, if after all this you will be unconverted and be damned? If you die now, it is because you will die. What could be said more to you? or what course can be taken that is likelier to prevail? Are you able to say, and make it good, We would fain have been converted, and become new creatures, but we could not; we would fain have forsaken our sins, but we could not; we would have changed our company, and our thoughts, and our discourse, but we could not.? Why could you not, if you would? What · hindered you, but the wickedness of your hearts? Who forced you to sin? or who held you back from duty ? Did God put in any exceptions against you in his word, when he invited sinners to return; and when he promised mercy to those who do return? Did he say, I will pardon all that repent, except thee? Did he shut you out from the liberty of his holy worship? Did he forbid you to pray to him any more than others? You know he did not. God did not drive you away from hjin, but you ran away yourselves. And when he called you to hin, you would not come. If God had excepted you out of the general promise and offer of mercy; or had said to you, Stand off, I will have nothing to do with such as you; pray not to me, for I will not hear you; if you repent ever so much, I will not regard you; then you had had a fair excuse. You might have said, To what end should I repent and turn, when it will do no good? But this was not your case. You
might have had Christ to be your Lord and Saviour, your Head and Husband, as well as others, and you would not, because you felt not yourself sick enough for the physician; because you could not spare your disease. In your hearts you said as those rebels, We will not have this man to reign over us.(6) Christ would have gathered you under the wings of his salvation, and you would not. What desires of your welfare did the Lord express in his holy word! With what compassion did he stand over you, and say, O that my people had hearkened unto me, and that they had walked in my ways! O that there were such a heart in this people, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! O that they were wise, that they understood this! and that they would consider their latter end! He would have been your God, and done all for you that your souls could desire; but you loved the world and your flesh above him, and therefore you would not hearken to him: though you complimented with him, and gave him high titles, yet when it came to the closing you would have none of him. No marvel then if he gave you up to your own hearts' lusts, and you walked in your own counsels. He condescends to reason, and pleads the case with you, and asks you, “ What is there in me, or my service, that you should be so much against me? What harm have I done thee, sinner? Have I deserved this unkind dealing at thy hand ? Many mercies have I showed thee: for which of them dost thou thus despise me?' Is it I, or is it Satan, that is thy enemy? Is it I, or is it thyself, that would undo thee? Is it a holy life, or a life of sin, which thou hast cause to fly from? If thou be undone, thou procurest this to thyself, by forsaking me, the Lord, that would have saved thee.” Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people, and unwise? Is not he thy father, that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and established thee? (c) When he saw that you forsook