« הקודםהמשך »
then, O sluggard, and shake off thine excuses. How long wilt thou slumber, and fold thy hands to sleep? Wilt thou lie down in the midst of the sea, or sleep on the top of the mast? There is no remedy, but thou must either turn or burn. There is an unchangeable necessity of the change of thy condition, except thou art resolved to abide the worst of it, and to try it out with the Almighty. If thou lovest thy life, O man, arise and come away!
Oh, how wilful will thy destruction be, if thou shouldst yet harden thyself in thy sinful state? But none of you can say but you have had fair warning. Yet methinks I cannot tell how to leave you so. It is not enough for me to have delivered my own soul. What! shall I go away without my errand? Will none of you arise and follow me? Have I been all this while speaking to the wind? Have I been charm ing the deaf adder? If you be men, and not senseless stocks, stand still and consider whither you are going: if you have the reason and understanding of men, dare not to run into the flames, and fall into hell with your eyes open, but bethink yourselves, and set to the work of repentance. What! men, and yet run into the pit, when the very beasts will not be forced in! What! endowed with reason, and yet dally with death and hell, and the vengeance of the Almighty! Will you not hasten your escape from eternal torments ? O show yourselves men, and let reason prevail with you: is it a reasonable thing for you to contend against the Lord your Maker? Or, to harden yourselves against his word, as though the strength of Israel would lie? Is it reasonable that an understanding creature should lose, yea, live quite against the very end of his being, and be as a broken pitcher, only fit for the dunghill? Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, and let the creatures without sense be judges if this be reason, that man, whom God hath nourished and brought up, should rebel against him! Judge in your own selves; is it a reasonable understanding for briars and thorns to set theniselves in battle against
the devouring fire ? Isa. xxvii. 4.; or for the potsherd of the earth to strive with its Maker ?
What shall I say? I could spend myself in this argument. Othat you would but hearken to me! And that you would presently set upon a new course! Will you not be made clean? When shall it once be? Reader, shall I prevail with thee for one? Wilt thou sit down and consider, whether it be not best to turn. Come and let us reason together: is it good for thee to be here? Wilt thou sit still till the time come upon thee? Is it good for thee to try whether God will be so good as his word, and to harden thyself in a conceit that all is well with thee, while thou remainest unsanctified?
O distracted sinners! What will their end be? What will they do in the day of visitation? Whither will they flee for help? Where will they leave their glory? Isa. x. 3. How powerfully hath sin bewitched them! How effectually hath the god of this world blinded them! How strong is the delusion! how uncircumcised their ears! how obdurate their hearts ! Satan bath them at his beck. But how long may I call, and get no answer? Though I tell them there is death in the cup, yet they will take it up; though I tell them 'tis the broad way, and endeth in destruction, yet they will go on in it; I warn them, yet cannot win them. Sometimes I think the mercies of God will melt them, and his winning invitations will overcome them; but I find them as they were: sometimes that the terror of the Lord will persuade them; yet neither will this do it. I am to them as the lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, yet I cannot get them to come under Christ's yoke. What shall I do for the daughter of my people ? O Lord God, help! Alas, shall I leave them thus! If they will not hear me, yet do thou hear me. O that they may yet live in thy sight! Lord save them, or else they perish. My heart would melt to see their houses on fire about their ears, when they were fast asleep in their beds; and shall not my soul be moved within me, to see
lovely song of one me under Christ
them falling into endless perdition! Lord, have compassion, and save them out of the burning; put forth thy divine power, and the work will be done : but as for me, I cannot prevail.
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Help, O all-searching Light, and let thy discerning eye discover the rotten foundation of the selfdeceiver: and lead me, O Lord God, as thou didst the prophet, into the chambers of Imagery, and dig through the wall of sinners' hearts, and discover the hidden abominations that are lurking out of sight. O send thy angel before me, as thou didst before Peter, and make even the iron gates to fly open of their own accord. And as Jonathan no sooner tasted the honey but his eyes were enlightened; so grant, O Lord, tbat when the poor deceived souls shall cast their eyes upon these lines, their minds may be illuminated, and their consciences awakened, that they may see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and thou mayest heal them!
This must be premised, that 'tis certain men may have a confident persuasion that their hearts and states are good, and yet be unsound. Yea, they may be confident they are rich, and increased in grace. There is a generation that are poor in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness, Prov. xxx. 12. So that they are miserably deceived that take a strong confidence for a sufficient evidence. They that hare no better proof than a strong persuasion that they are converted, are certainly strangers to conversion.
But some of the unconverted carry their marks in their forehead more openly; and some in their hands more covertly. The apostle reckons up some upon whom he writes the sentence of death; as in these dreadful catalogues, which I beseech you to attend to with all diligence, Eph. v. 5, 6. For this you know
that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covelous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Rev. xxi. 8. But the fearful and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God; see Gal. v. 19, 20. Woe to them that have their name written in these rolls; such may know, as certainly as if God had told them from heaven, that they are under an impossibility of being saved in this 'condition.
These (past all dispute) are unconverted; they carry their marks in their foreheads.
1. The Unclean. These are ever reckoned among the goats, and have their names in all the before-mentioned catalogues.
2. The Covetous. These are ever branded for idolaters, and the doors of the kingdom are shut against them by name.
3. Drunkards. Not only such as drink away their reason, but such as are strong for strong drink. The Lord fills his mouth with woes against these, and declares them to have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
4. Liars. The Lord that cannot lie, has told them, that there is no place for them in his kingdom.
5. Swearers. The end of these, without deep and speedy repentance, is swift destruction.
6. Railers and Backbiters, that take up a reproach against their neighbour, or wound him behind his back.
7. Thieves, Extortioners, Oppressors, that over-reach their brethren when they have them at an advantage: these must know that God is the avenger of all such, 1 Thess. iv. 6. Hear, O ye false, and purloining, and wasteful servants; hear, Oye deceitful tradesmen, hear your sentence: God will certainly hold his door against you, and turn your treasures of uprighteousness into the treasures of wrath, and make your illgotten silver and gold to torment you like burning metal in your bowels.
8. All that live in the neglect of God's worship, that hear not his word, that call not on his name, that restrain prayer before God, that mind not their own or their families' souls.
Sinner, consider diligently whether thou art not to be found in one of these ranks: for if this be thy case, thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity; for all these carry their marks in their foreheads, and are undoubtedly the sons of death.
And if so, the Lord pity our poor congregations. O how small a number will be left, when these are out! Alas, on how many doors, on how many faces, must we write, Lord, have mercy upon us! Sirs, what shift do you make to keep up your confidence of your good state, when God from heaven declares against you, and pronounces you in a state of damnationBeloved, God hath written it as with a sun-beam in the book by which you must be judged, that none such (except renewed by converting grace) shall escape the damnation of hell.
And now I imagine many will begin to bless themselves, and think all is well, because they cannot be spotted with gross evils: but I must tell you, that there are another sort of unsanctified persons that carry not their marks in their foreheads, but more secretly in their hands; these frequently deceive themselves and others, and pass for good Christians. Many pass undiscovered till death and judgment bring all to light. Brethren, I beseech you deeply to lay to heart this awakening consideration, “ That multitudes miscarry