« הקודםהמשך »
privately, and in danger, have won many souls to thee,” it would have made their burden easy. But I tell the senseless and impenitent sinner, thou that des niedst God in thy heart, and that deniedst them thy conversion, which was the end of all their labours, has dealt much more cruelly with them than they that denied the Levites bread. I sortie
de Poor Sinners! I know that I am speaking all this to those that are dead in sin; but 'tis a death consisting with a natural life, wbich hath a capacity of spiritual life, or else I would no more speak to you than to a stone. And I know that you are blind to sin; but 'tis a blindness consisting with a reasonable faculty, which is capable of spiritual illumination; or else I would no more persuade you than I do a beast. And I know that you are in the fetters of your own-lusts; your wills, your love, your hearts, are turned away from God, and strongly bewitched with the dreams and dalliances with the flesh and world: but your wills are not forced to this captivity. Surely these wills may be cbanged by God's grace, when you clearly see sufficient reason to change them; else I would as soon preach (were I capable) to devils and damned souls. Your case is not yet desperate; O make it not desperate. There is just the same hope of your salvation as there is of your conversion and perseverance, and no more. Without it there is no hope, and with it you are safe, and have no cause to doubt and fear. Heaven may yet be yours, if you will. No thing but your own wills, refusing Christ and a holy life, can keep you out. And shalt thou do it? Shall hell be your own choice? And will you say, you will not be saved ? . . O think better what you do! God's terms are real sonable, his words and ways are good and eqrial; Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light; and his commands are not grievous to any, but so far as blindness and ar bad and backward heart makes them so. You have no true reason to be unwilling; God and conscience shall one day tell you, and all the world, that you have no reason for it. You may as wisely pretend reason to
cut your throats,' to torment yourselves, 'as plead rea,
u st meer as me that must so come unto our endless state, That thou wouldst but sometimes retire into thyself, and use the reason of a man, and look before thee whither thou art going; and look behind thee how thou hast lived, and what thou hast been doing in the world till now; and look within thee, what a case thy soul is in, and whether it be fit to enter upon eternity; and look above thee, what a heaven of glory thou dost neglect, and consider thou hast God to be thine everlasting Friend or Enemy, as thou chusest, and as thou livest, and thou art always in his sight; yea, and look below thee, and think where they are that die unconverted. And when thou hast soberly thought of all these things, then do as God and true Reason shall direct thee.-And is this an unreasonable request? I appeal to God, and to all wise men, and to thy own conscience, when it shall be awakened, if I speak against thee, or if all this be not for thy good: or if it be not true and sure, then regard not what I say: if I speak not that message which God hath commanded his ministers to speak, then let it be refused as contemptuously as thou wilt. But if I do but in Christ's name and stead beseech thee to be reconciled to God, 2 Cor. v. 20. refuse it at thy peril. And if God's beseeching thee shall not prevail against thy sloth, Just, thy appetite, against the desires of the flesh, against the dust and shadows of the world, re
-member it when with fruitless' cries and Bortot thote art beseeching him too late. Thishing him to loca
l e Jadra! I know, poor Sinner, that flesh' is brutish, and lust and appetite have no reason: but I know thou hast reason thyself, which was given thee to over-rule them, and that he ihat will not be a man, cannot be a saint, nor a happy man. I know thou" livest in a tempting and wicked world, where things and persons will be daily hindering thee; but I know that this is no more to a man that by faith sees heaven and hell before him, than a grain of sand is to a kingdom, or a blast of wind to one that is flying for his life. "O man ! that thot didst but know the difference between that which the devil and sin will give thee, if thou wilt sell thy sou and heaven, and that which God hath promised and sworn to give thee, if thou wilt heartily give up thyself to him! I know thou mayest possibly fall into company (at least among some sots and drunkards that will tell thee, "All this is but troublesome preciseness, and making more ado than needs.” But know withal what that man deserveth who will believe a fool before his Maker; (for he can be no better than a miserable fool, that will contradict and revile ilie word of God, even the word of grace that would save men's souls.) · And, alas, it is possible thou mayest hear some of the tribe of Levi (or rather of Cain) deriding this seri ous godliness, as mere hypocrisy, and fanaticism, and self-conceitedness; as if you must be no better than the devil's slaves, lest you be proud in thinking that you are better than they; that is, you must go with them to hell, lest in heaven ye be proud hypocrites, for think ing yourselves better than they.'
It may be they will tell you, that this talk of conversion is fitter for pagans and infidels to hear, than for Christians and Protestants, because such men's bis look or coat may make the poison be the easier taken down: I will entreat thee but (as before God) to aniswer the following questions, or to get them answer: ed, and then judge whether it be they or we that would
deceive thee: and whether as men use to talk against learning, that have none themselves, so such men prate against conversion and the Spirit of God, because they have no such thing themselves.
Quest. 1. I pray ask them, whether it be a Puritan or Fanatic opinion, that men must die? And, what all the pomp, wealth, and pleasure of the world, will signify to a departing soul? Ask them whether they will live on earth for ever, and their merry hours and lordly looks will have no end? And whether it be but the conceit of hypocrites and schismatics, that their carcase niust be rotting in a darksome grave ?
Quest. 2. Ask them, whether men have not an inmortal soul, and a longer life to live when this is ended? Luke xii. 4, 5.
Quest. 3. Ask them, whether reason requires not every man to think more seriously of the place, or state, where he must be for ever, than of that where he must be for a little while, and from whence he is posting day and night? And whether it be not wiser to lay up our treasure where we must stay, than where we must not stay, but daily look to be called away, and never more to be seen on earth?
Quest. 4. Ask them, whether God should not be loved with all your heart, and soul, and might? Matt. xxii. 37. and, whether it be not the mark of an ungodly miscreant to be a lover of pleasure more than God, 2 Tim. iii. 4. and a lover of this world above him, 1 John ii. 15. and whether we must not seek, first, God's kingdom and his righteousness, Matt. vi. 33. and labour most for the meat which never perisheth, John vi. 27. and strive to enter in at the strait gate, Luke xiii. 24, and give all diligence to make our calling and election sure? 2 Pet. i. 10.
Quest. 5. Ask them whether without holiness any shall see God? Heb. xii. 14. Matt. v. 8. Titus ii. 14. and, whether the carnal mind is not enmity to God, and to be carnally minded is not death, and to be spiritually minded is not life and peace? and whether, if you live afler the Hesh, you shall not die and be condemned:
· 3 X
he deson this set the
and whether they shall not live and be saved that walk after the Spirit ? and whether any man be Christ's that hath not the Spirit? Ron viii. 1-10.-bila · Quest. 6. Ask them, whether any man hath treasure in heaven, whose heart is not there? Matt. vi. 21 And whether this be not the difference between the wicked and the godly, that the first make their beldes their god, and mind earthly things, and are enemies to the cross of Christ, (though perhaps not in name) and the latter have their conversation in heaven, and, being risen with Christ, do set their affections on things ubove, and not on things that are on the earth, to which they are dead, and their life is hid (oront of sight) with Christ in God, till Christ shall appear, and then shall they appear (even openly to all the world) with him in glory? Phil. iii. 18, 19, 20. Col. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4. • Quest. 7. Ask them, whether it be credible or suit able to God's word or working, that he that will not give the fruits of the earth without their labour, nor feed and clothe them without themselves, will yet bring them to heaven without any care, desire, or labour of their own, when he hath bid them not care for the one, and called for the greatest diligence in the other? Matt. vi. 31, &c. Yea, ask them whether these be not the two first articles in all faith and religion': 1. That God is; 2. That he is the rewarder of all them that diligently seek him. ' ;. isn's 'W
Quest. 8. Ask them, yea, ask your eyes, your ears, your daily experience in the world, whether all or most that call themselves Christians, do in good earnest thus live to God in the Spirit, and mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts, and seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, love him above all, and lay up treasure and heart in heaven; or rather, whether most be not lovers of the world, and lovers of pleasure, more than God, and live not after the flesh, and mind vot most the things of the flesh? I inention not now the drunkards, the flesh-pleasing gentlemen, that live to pride, fulness, and idleness, and sport and play away their precious time; nor the filthy fornicator, pep the