« הקודםהמשך »
by faith. Jf Lee men live by sendare done it. But
Truly, sirs, I have led you even as far as I can; and what more to say to you, or what more to do for you, to procure your conversion, I do not know. If it had been in my power to have shown you heaven and hell itself, that you might better have known the matters that we speak of, I think I should have done it. But God will not have men live by sense in this life, but by faith. If I could but help you all to such a knowledge and apprehension of these invisible things, as the worst of you shall have as soon as you are dead, then I should make but little doubt of your conversion and salvation. Sure if you had but such a sight, the force of it would so work upon you, that you would all cry out that you are resolved to be new creatures. But though this be beyond my power, and though I cannot show you the great and wonderful things that every eye must shortly see; yet I come not to you without a glass of God's own making, and in that glass you may see them. There, if you have but an eye of faith, you may see that God you have so long offended, and that now so earnestly inviteth you to return: there you may see that crucified Christ, that hath opened you a way for repentance by his blood, and pleadeth that blood with you for the melting of your impenitent obstinate hearts. There you may see the odious face of sin, and the amiable face of holiness, which is the image of God. There you may see both heaven and hell, although they are invisible, and may know what will be, and that to all eternity, as well as what is.
And will not such a sight, in the glass of God's word, serve to move thee presently to give up the trade of sinning, and to resolve, before thou stir, for God? I am now come to the end of this part of my work; if the reading of it have brought thee to the end of thy ungodly careless life, it will be happy for thee, and I shall so far attain the end of my labour. I have purposely put this direction of the necessity of resolution in the last place, that I might leave upon thy spirit the reasons for resolution that here I have laid down.--And now I beseech thee, reader, whoever thou art, with all the and into a spiritual lively fruitful frame. He is forward to aggravate the sins of others, and oft-times severe enough in censuring them: but he is a very gentle censurer of himself, and a patient man with his own corruptions, and puts the best construction upon all that is his own. He hath much labour per haps in shaping his opinions, but little for the humbling and sanctifying his heart, by the power of the truth.
6. And as the difference lieth thus constantly in the heart, so it is usually manifested by the tongue. The sound convert is most desirous to discourse of those great and saving truths, which his very heart hath taken in, and which he hath found to be the seed of God for his regeneration, and the instruments of that holy and happy change that is made upon him: he feeleth most savour, and life, in these great and most necessary points. Read John xvij. 3. 1 Cor. xv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 1 Cor. ii. 2. Phil. iii. 8, 9, 10, 11 1 Tim. ii. 16. Acts, xxxvi, 22, 23; In these scriptures you may find what points they were that the greatest saints did study and live, upon. But the opir nionist is most forward to discourse of mere opinions, and to feed upon the air of notions, and controversies of lesser moment.
A serious Christian, even when he is necessitated to speak of lower controverted points, yet doth it in a spiritual manner, as one that more savoureth higher truths, and makes a holy and heavenly life his end, even in these lower matters; and deals about such controversies in a practical manner, and in order to the growth of holiness.
Lastly, true, converts are stedfast, but opinionists. are usually mutable and unconstant. The sound convert receiveth the greatest truths, and receives the goodness as well as the truth; and takes it not only into the head, but into the heart, and giveth it deep root ing: he closeth with God as his own felicity, and with Christ as his only refuge and redeemer, and with heaven as the sure everlasting glory, to which the
world is but a mole-hill or a dungeon. No wonder then if this man be stedfast, and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.. .
To which end I further desire you, 1. To consider, that it is a higher inatter that Christ came ivto the world for, than to change men's bare opinions; and it is a higher matter that the gospel is intended for, and that ministers are sent to you: for it is more than a corruption of men's opinions, that sin hath brought upon you; and therefore it is a deeper disease that must be cured. The work of Christ by his gospel, is no less than to fetch you off all that which flesh and blood accounts your happiness, and to unite you to hunself, and make you holy, as God is holy, and to give you a new, nature, and make you as the dwellers or citizens of heaven, while you walk on earth.-And these are greater matters than the changing of a party, or opinion. The Holy Spirit himself must dwell in you, and work in you, and employ your soul and life for God, that you may study him, and love him, and live to him here, and live with him for ever. Do but think well of the ends and meaning of the Gospel, and how much greater matters it drives at; and then you will see that there is no taking up with any opinionative religion.
And now I have given you directions in the most great and necessary business in the world: they are such as I received of God, and, faithfully practised, will put your salvation. past all hazard. But what they have done, or what they will do, I cannot tell; but must leave the issue to God and you. It's pity eternal glory should be lost for want of yielding to so holy, and sweet, and reasonable a course. It is lamentable to observe, what ignorant, base, unworthy, thoughts, the most have of the very office of the Holy Ghost, who is the sanctifier of all that God will save. The very name of regeneration and sanctification is not understood by some, and is but matter of derision
earnestness that I am able to use with thee, as ever thoa wouldst escape the fruits of all thy sin, as ever thou wouldst see the face of God with comfort, and have him thy reconciled Father in Christ;-as ever thou wouldst have a saving part in Christ, and have him stand thy friend in thy extremities;-as ever thou wouldst have hope in thv death, and stand on the right hand, and be justified at judgment;-as ever thou wouldst escape the day of vengeance prepared for the unconverted, and the endless misery that will fall upon all unsanctified souls, as sure as the heaven is over thy head-see that thou resolve and turn to God, and trifle with him no more. Away with thy old transgressions;-away with thy careless worldly life;-away with thy ungodly company; and set thyself presently to seek after thy salvacon with all thy heart, and mind, and might. I tell thee once more, that heaven and hell are not matters to be jested with; nor to be carelessly thought of, or · spoken, or regarded. The God of heaven stands over thee now while thou art reading all these words, and he seeth thy heart, whether thou art resolved to turn or not. Shall be see thee read such urgent reasons, and yet wilt thou not resolve? Shall he see thee read these earnest requests, and yet not resolve? What! not come home to thy God, to thy Father, to thy Saviour, to thyself, after so long and wilful sinning? What! pot to accept of mercy, now it is even thrust into thy hands; when thou hast veglected and abused mercy so long? O let not the just and jealous God stand over thee, and see thee guilty of such wickedness. If thou be a Christian, show thyself a Christian, and use thy belief, and come to God. If thou be a man, show thyself a man, and use thy reason, and come away to God. I beseech thee read over and over again the reasons that I have here offered thee, and judge whether a reasonable man should resist them, and delay an hour to come unto God. I that am now writing these lines of exhortation to thee, inust shortly meet thee at the bar of Christ. I do now adjure thee, and charge thee in the name of the living God, that thou do not thyself and me that wrong, as to
make me lose this labour with thee, and that thou put me not to come in as a witness against thee to thy con. fusion and condemnation. Resolve therefore presently in the strength of Christ, and strike an unchangeable covenant with him. Get thee to thy knees, and bewail with tears thy former life, and deliver up thyself wholly now to Christ; and never break this covenant more.
If thou lay by the book, and go away the same, and no persuasion will do thee any good, but unholy thou wilt still be, and sensual, and worldly; I call thy conscience to witness, that thou wast warned of the evil that is near thee, and conscience shall obey this call, and bear me witness whether thou wilt or not: and this book, which thou hast read, which I intended for thy conversion and salvation, shall be a witness against thee: though age or fire consume the leaves and lines of it, yet God and conscience shall bring it to thy memory, and thou shalt then be the more confounded to think what reasons and earnest persuasions thou didst reject, in so plain, so great, and necessary a case.
But if the Holy Ghost will now become thy tutor, and at once both put this book into thy hand, and his heavenly light into thy understanding, and his life into thy heart, and effectually persuade thee to resolve and turn, how happy wilt thou be to all eternity! Make no more words of it; but answer my request, as thon wouldst do if thou wert in a burning fire, and I entreated thee to come out. Thou hast long enough grieved Christ and his Spirit, and long enough grieved thy friends and teachers: resolve this hour, and rejoice then that thou hast grieved; and now grieve the devil, that thou hast hitherto rejoiced; and hereafter grieve the wicked, and thy own deceitful flesh, whose sinful desires thou hast hitherto followed: and if thou also grieve thyself a little while, by that moderate sorrow that thy sin hath made necessary for thee, it will be but a preparative to thy endless joys; and the day is promised, and coming apace, when Satan that thou turnest from shall trouble thee no more, and God that thou turnest to shall wipe away all tears from thy eyes. And