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him, even for nothing, and turned away from the Lord, to hunt after the chaff and feathers of the world, he told you your folly, and called you to a more profitable employment.-Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.(d) And when ye would not hear, what complaints have you put him to, charging it on you as your wilfulness and stubbornness? Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid. For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the Fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Many a time has Christ proclaimed that free invitation to youLet him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.(e) But you oblige him to complain, after all his offers. They will not come to me, that they may have life.(f) He has invited you to a feast with him in the kingdom of his grace: and you have had excuses, from your grounds, and your cattle, and your worldly business; and when you would not come, you said you could not; and provoked him to resolve, that you should never taste of his supper. And whose fault is it now but your own? And what can you say is the chief cause of your damnation, but your own wills? You would be damned.
USE. 1. From hence you may see, not only what blasphemy and impiety it is, to lay the blame of men's destruction upon God; but also how unfit these wicked wretches are to bring in such a charge against their Maker. They cry out against God, and say, He
(d) Isa. Iv. 2, 3.
(e) Rev. xxii. 17.
(1) John v. 40.
gives them not grace, and his threatenings are severe, and God forbid that all should be damned that are not converted: and they think it hard measure that a short sin should have an endless suffering; and if they be damned, they say they cannot help it: when, in the mean time, they are busy about their own destruction, even cutting the throat of their own souls, and will not be persuaded to hold their hands. They think God would be cruel if he should damn them: and yet they are so cruel to themselves, that they will run into the fire of hell, when God has told them it is a little before them; and neither entreaties nor threatenings, nor any thing that can be said, will stop them. We see them almost undone; their careless worldly lives tell us that they are in the power of the devil; we know, if they die before they are converted, all the world cannot save them; and knowing the uncertainty of their lives, we are afraid every day lest they drop into the fire. And therefore we entreat them to pity their own souls, and not to undo themselves when mercy is at hand: and they will not hear us. We entreat them to cast away their sin, and come to Christ without delay, and to have some mercy on themselves; but they will have none. And yet they think that God must be cruel, if he condemn them. O wilful, wretched sinners! It is not God that is cruel to you; it is you that are cruel to yourselves. You are told, that you must turn or burn; and yet you turn not. You are told, that if you will keep your sins, you shall keep the curse of God with them; and yet you will keep them. You are told, that there is no way to happiness, but by holiness; and yet you will not be holy. What would you have God say more to you? What would you have him do with his mercy? He offers it you, and you will not have it. You are in the ditch of sin and misery, and he would give you his hand to help you out, and you refuse his help: he would cleanse you from your sins, and you would rather keep them. Would you have him bring you to heaven whether you will or no? or would you have him bring you and your sins to heaven
together? Why, that is an impossibility; you may as well expect that he should turn the sun into darkness. What! an unsanctified heart to be in heaven! It cannot be: There nothing entereth that is unclean. All the day long hath he stretched out his hand to a disobedient and gainsaying people. What will you do now? Will you cry to God for mercy? Why, God calls upon you to have mercy upon yourselves, and you will not. Ministers see the poisoned cup in the drunkard's hands, and tell him, There is poison in it, and desire him to have mercy on his soul, and forbear; and he will not hear us: drink it he must and will, he loves it; and therefore, though hell comes next, he says he cannot help it. What should one say to such men as these? We tell the ungodly, “ It is not such a life that will serve the turn, or ever bring you to heaven. If a bear was at your back, you would mend your pace; and when the curse of God is at your back, and Satan and hell are at your back, will you not stir, but ask, what needs all this ado? Is an immortal soul of no more worth? O have mercy upon yourselves!” But they will have no mercy on themselves. We tell them, the end will be bitter. “Who can dwell with everlasting fire?” And yet they will have no mercy upon themselves. And will these shameless wretches say, that God is more merciful than to condemn them, when it is themselves that cruelly run upon condemnation, and we cannot stop them? If we fall down on our knees to them, we cannot stop them: but to hell they will go, and yet will not believe that they are going thither. If we beg of them, for the sake of God that made them, and preserves them; for the sake of Christ who died for them; for the sake of their own poor souls, to pity themselves, and to go no further in the way to hell, but come to Christ while his arms are open, and enter into the state of life while the door stands open, and now take mercy, while mercy may be had; they will not be persuaded. And yet they say, I hope God will be merciful. Did you never consider what he says, It is a people of no understanding : therefore he
yet will not be them: but to honour knees to t
in the while with and God who wsi your own un
that made them will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them will show them no favour.(g) If another man will not clothe you when you are naked, and feed you when you are hungry, you will say he is unmerciful. If he should cast you into prison, or beat and torment you, you would say he is unmerciful. And yet you will do a thousand times more against yourselves, and even cast away both soul and body for ever, and never complain of your own unmercifulness. Yea, and God who waited upon you all the while with his mercy, must be taken to be unmerciful, if he punish you after all this. Unless the holy God of heaven will give these wretches leave to trample upon his Son's blood, and do despite to the Spirit of grace, and set more lightly by saving mercy, than by the filth of their fleshly pleasures; and unless after all this he will save them by the mercy which they cast away, God himself must be called unmerciful. But he will be justified when he judgeth: and he will not stand or fall at the bar of a sinful worm.
2. From hence you may observe, 1. What a subtle tempter Satan is. 2. What a deceitful thing sin is. 3. What a foolish creature corrupted man is.-A subtle tempter indeed, that can persuade the greatest part of the world to go wilfully into everlasting fire, when they have so many warnings and dissuasives! A deceitful thing is sin indeed, that can bewitch so many thousands to part with everlasting life, for a thing so base and utterly unworthy! A foolish creature is man, that will be cheated of his salvation for nothing, yea, for a known nothing; and that by an enemy, and a known enemy! You would think it impossible that any man should be persuaded for a little to cast himself into the fire, or water, to the destruction of his life: and yet men will be enticed to cast themselves into hell. If your natural lives were in your own hands, so that you should not die till you would kill yourselves, how long would most of you live! and yet when your everlast
(g) Isa. xxvii. 11.
ing life is so far in your hands under God, that you cannot be undone till you undo yourselves, how few of you will forbear your undoing! Ah, what a silly thing is man! and what a bewitching and befooling thing is sin !
Lastly, You may hence learn, that the greatest enemy to man, is himself; and the greatest judgment in this life that can befal him, is to be left to himself; and that the great work which Christ has to do, is to save us from ourselves; and the greatest complaints of men should be against themselves; and that the greatest work that we have to do ourselves, is to resist ourselves; and the greatest enemy which we should daily pray, and watch, and strive against, is our own hearts and wills; and the greatest part of your work, if you would do good to others, and help them to heaven, is to save thein from themselves, even from their own blind understanding, and corrupt wills, and perverse affections, and violent passions, and unruly senses: I only name all these for brevity's sake, and leave them to your further consideration.
Well, now we have found out the great murderer of souls, (even men's selves, their own wills,) what remains but that you confess this great iniquity before the Lord, and be humbled for it, and do so no more? To these three ends distinctly, I shall add a few words more. 1. Further to convince you. 2. To humble you. And, 3. To reform you.
1. We know so much of the exceeding gracious nature of God, who is willing to do good, and delights to show mercy, that we have no reason to suspect him of being the cause of our death, or to call him cruel. He made all good, and he preserves and maintains all; the eyes of all thing's wait upon him, and he gives them their meat in good season; he opens his hand, and satisfies the desires of all the living. He is not only righteous in all his ways (and therefore will deal justly, and holy in all his works (and therefore not the author of sin,) but he is also good to all; and liis tender mercies are over all his works.