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apprehensions of his love, and that never felt a higher estimation of God and heaven, and a heartier love to them, than to the things below:-1 earnestly beseech you, not only for my sake, but for the Lord's sake, and for your souls' sake, that you go not one day longer in your present condition; but look about you, and cry to God for converting grace, that you may escape the plagues which are before you. Deny me any thing that ever I shall ask you for myself, if you will but grant me this. Nay, as ever you will do any thing at the request of the Lord that made you and redeemned you, deny him not this; for if you deny him this, he cares for nothing that you shall grant him. As ever you would have him hear your prayers, and grant your requests, and bless you at the hour of death, and day of judgment, deny not his request now in the day of your prosperity. O believe it, death and judgment; and heaven and hell, are other matters when you come near them, than they seem afar off.
Well, I hope that some of you are by this time purposing to turn and live: and that you are ready to ask me, as the Jews did Peter, when they were pricked in their hearts, What shall we do? How may we come to be truly converted ? We are willing, if we did but know our duty. God forbid that we should choose destruction, by refusing conversion, as hitherto we have done.
If these be the purposes of your hearts, I say of you, as God did of a promising people, They have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always!(n) Your purposes are good : O that there were but such a heart in you to perform these purposes ! And, in hope thereof, 1 shall gladly give you direction what to do; and that but briefly, that you may the easier remember it for your practice.
DIRECTION 1. If you would be converted and
(n) Deut. v. 28, 29.
saved, labour to understand the necessity and nature of conversion. Consider what a lamentable condition you are in till your conversion, that you may see it is not a state to be rested in. You are under the guilt of all the sins that ever you committed, and under the wrath of God, and the curse of his law; you are bond-slaves to the devil, and daily employed in his work, against the Lord, yourselves, and others; you are spiritually dead, as being void of the holy life, and nature and image, of the Lord. You are unfit for any holy work, and do nothing that is truly pleasing to God. You are without any promise or assurance of his protection, and live in continual danger of his justice, not knowing what hour you may be snatched away to hell; and most certain to be damned, if you die in that condition; and nothing short of conversion can prevent it. Whatever amendments are short of true conversion, will never procure the sav. ing of your souls. Keep the true sense of this natural misery, and of the necessity of conversion, on your hearts. And then you must understand what it is to be converted: it is to have a new heart or disposition, and a new conversation.
Quest. 1. For what must we turn?
Ans. For these ends following, which you may attain: You shall hereby be made living members of Christ, and have an interest in him; and be renewed after the image of God, quickened with a new and heavenly life, and saved from the tyranny of Satan, and the dominion of sin; and be justified from the curse of the law, and have the pardon of all the sins of your whole lives; and be accepted of God, and made his sons, and have liberty with boldness to call him Father, and go to him by prayer in all your wants, with a promise of acceptance; you shall have the Holy Ghost to dwell in you, to sanctify and guide you; you shall have part in the communion and prayers of the saints: you shall be fitted for God's service; and shall have the promise of this life, and that which is to come.
And, at death, your souls shall go to Christ; and at the day of judgment, both soul and body shall be justified and glorified, and enter into your Master's joy.
"All this the poorest beggar of you that is converted shall certainly and endlessly enjoy.
II. If you will be converted and saved, be much in secret, serious consideration. Inconsiderateness undoes the world. Withdraw yourselves often into secrecy, and meditate on the end for which you were made; on the life you have lived; the time you have lost; the sins you have committed; on the love, and sufferings, and fulness, of Christ; on the danger you are in ; on the nearness of death and judgment; and on the certainty and excellency of the joys of heaven; and on the certainty and terror of the torments of hell, and eternity of both; and on the necessity of conversion and a holy life.
III. If you would be converted and saved, attend upon the word of God, which is the ordinary means. Read the scripture, or hear it read, and other holy writings, which do apply to it, constantly; and attend on the public preaching of the word. As God will lighten the world by the sun, and not by himself alone without it; so will he convert and save men by his ministers, who are the lights of the world. When he has miraculously humbled Paul, he sends Ananias to him; and when he has sent an angel to Cornelius, it is but to bid him send for Peter, who must tell him what he is to believe and do.
IV. Betake yourselves to God in a course of earnest and constant prayer. Confess and lament your former lives, and beg his grace to illuminate and convert you. Beseech him to pardon what is past, and to give you his Spirit, and change your hearts and lives, and lead you in his ways, and save you from temptation. And ply this work daily, and be not weary of it.
V. Presently give over your known and wilful sins. Make a stand, and go that way no farther. Be drunk no inore; but avoid the place and occasion of it. Cast away your lusts and sinful pleasures with détestation. Curse and swear and rail no more: and if you have wronged any, restore as Zacchéus did. If you will commit again your old sins, what blessing can you expect on the means for conversion ?
VÍ. Presently, if possible, change your coinpaný. Not by forsaking your necessary relations, but your unnecessary sinful companions; and join yourselves with those that fear the Lord. . VII. Deliver up yourselves to the Lord Jesus as the Physician of your souls, that he may pardon you by his blood, and sanctify you by his Spirit; by his word and ministers, the instruments of his Spirit. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; therë is no come ing to the Father but by him.(o) Nor is there any other name under heaven by which yoứt can be saved. Study therefore his person and nature, and what he has done and suffered for you, and what he is to you; and what he will be and how he is fitted to the full supply of all your necessities.
VIII. If you mean indeed to turni and live, do it without delay. If you be not willing to turn to-day, you are not willing to do it at all. Remember, you'are all this while in your blood; under the guilt of many thousand sins, and under God's wrath, and you stand at the very brink of hell; there is but a step between you and death. And this is not a case for a man to be quiet in. Up therefore presently, and fly for your lives; as you would be gone out of your house, if it were all on fire over your head. O, if you did but know what danger you live in, and what daily una speakable loss you do sustain, and what a safer and sweeter life you might live, you would not stand triAling, but presently turn. Multitudes miscarry who wilfully delay, when they are convinced that it must be done. Your lives are short and uncertain; and whát a case are you in, if you die before you thoroughly turn? You have staid too long already, and
(0) John xiv. 6.·_ (p) Acts iv. 12.
P) Acts iv. To
wronged God too long; sin gets strength and rooting while you delay. Your conversion will grow more hard and doubtful. You have much to do, and therefore put not all off to the last, lest God forsake you, and give you up to yourselves, and then you are undone for ever.
IX. If you will turn and live, do it unreservedly, absolutely, and universally. Think not to capitulate with Christ, and divide your heart betwixt him and the world; and to part with some sins, and keep the rest. 1 is but self-deluding : you must forsake all you have, or else you cannot be his disciples.(9) If you will not take God and heaven for your portion, and lay all below at the feet of Christ, but must needs also have your good things here, and have an earthly portion, and God and glory is not enough for you,—it is in vain to dream of salvation on these terms; for it will not be. If you seem ever so religious, if yet it be but outside righteousness, this is as certain a way to death, as open profaneness, though it be plausible.
X. If you will turn and live, do it resolvedly, and stand not still deliberating, as if it were a doubtful case. Stand not wavering, as if you were yet uncertain whe ther God or the flesh be the better master; or whether heaven or hell be the better end; or whether sin or holiness be the better way. But away with your former lusts, and presently, habitually, fixedly resolve: be not one day of one mind, and the next of another; but be at a point with all the world, and resolvedly give up yourselves and all you have to God. Now, while you are hearing or reading this, resolve. Before you sleep another night, resolve. Before you stir from the place, resolve. Before Satan have time to take you off, resolve. You never turn indeed till you do resolve; and that with a firm and unchangeable resolution.
And now I have done my part in this work, that you may turn at the call of God, and live. What will become of it, I cannot tell. I have cast the seed at God's command, but it is not in my power to give the
(9) Luke xiv. 26, 33.