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if the reading of this book may be but a means of so blessed an end, as God shall have the glory, so when Christ cometh to be glorified in his saints, and adinired in all them that do believe, (2 Thes. i. 10.) both thou and I shall then partake of the communication of his glory; if so be that I be sincere in writing, and thou and I sincere in obeying the doctrine of this book. Amen.
TO THE TRUE
“ WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED."
I. Reflections on the Nature and Depth of penitential Sorrow. II. Directions proper for a half-awakened Sinner, who desires to be
truly convinced of his Guilt and Danger. III. Cautions against many false Ways of Healing a Conscience
wounded by Sin. IV. The evangelical Method of a sound Cure. V. A Scriptural Testimony of God's Children concerning the
Excellency of this Method. VI. Scriptural Invitations and Exhortations, to encourage a desponding Penitent to try this never-failing Method.
BY THE REV. JOHN FLETCHER.
“ Is there no Balm in Gilead? Is there no Physician there? Why then is not
the health of the daughter of my people recovered 20 Jer. viii. 22.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY NUTTALL, FISHER, AND DIXON,
LEAVING the thoughtless and the gay, who too often regard an appeal to their reason as little as they do the warnings of conscience, let me address myself to thee, serious and well-disposed Reader, and endeavour to show thee the way to the kingdom of heaven, by testifying to thee repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thou art happily weary of feeding upon the husks of earthly vanities. I have a right therefore, as a steward of the inysteries of God, to bring out of the divine treasury the pearls of evangelical truth: and I gladly cast them before thee, persuaded, that far from awakening thy anger, they will excite thy desires, and aniinate thy languid hopes.
Instead of ridiculing or dreading a heart-felt conviction of thy lost estate, thou now seest it is a desirable privilege, an invaluable blessing. Ready to mourn because thou canst not mourn, thou complainest, that thou hast only a confused view of thy total depravity. Thou wantest the feelings of the royal penitent, when he said, “ Behold, I was shapen in iniquity,” &c.—“ I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me;"—but conscious thou canst not raise them in thy heart by natural powers, thou desirest some scriptural directions suitable to thy case. Give me leave to introduce them by a few.
I. PRELIMINARY REFLECTIONS on the Nature and Depth of penitential Sorrow.-Thou knowest that except thou truly repentest, thou shalt surely perish, and that there is no true repentance, where there is not true sorrow for sin. “I rejoice (says St. Paul to the Corinthians) that ye were made sorry after a godly manner: for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the
world worketh death.” Hence it appears, that there are two sorts of sorrow springing from opposite sources, God and the world; the one a godly sorrow, and the other the sorrow of the world. Learn to distinguish them by their various causes and effects, so shalt thou avoid the danger of mistaking one for the other.
The sorrow of the world, which many cover with the cloak of religion, arises from fear of contempt, dread of poverty, secret jealousy, revenge dissatisfied, love disappointed, baffled schemes, losses in business, unkindness of friends, provocation of enemies, or the death of some idolized relative. Nay, this sorrow may sometimes spring from a mixture of self-righteous pride and slavish fear. Some cannot bear to be robbed of their fond hopes of meriting heaven by their imaginary good works: they lose all patience, when they see their best righteousness brought to light, and exposed as filthy rags: they are cut to the heart when they hear, that their apparent good deeds deserve punishment as well as their black enormities: or, like condemned malefactors, they dread the consequences of their crimes, while they feel little or no horror for the crinies themselves.
Exceedingly fatal are the effects of this sorrow, in the person whom it overcomes: their indignant hearts, unable to bear either disappointment, contradiction, or condemnation, rise against second causes, or against the decrees of Providence; fret at the strictness of the law, or holiness of the Lawgiver; and pine away with uninterrupted discontent. Heuce, spurning at advice, direction, and consolation, they wring their hands, or gnaw their tongues with anguish; impatience works them up into stupid sullenness, or noisy murmuring: they complain, that their punishment is greater than they can bear; and, imagining they are more severely dealt with than others, they hastily conclude, “ Behold, this evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for him any longer?” Thus black despair seizes upon their spirits: and, if grace does not interpose, they either live on to fill up the measure of their
of thned is well their o