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converfion and falvation fhall follow thefe acts; yet hope and probability are engagements enough. Hope fets all the world on work, without affurance. The ploughman ploughs in hops, and the merchant ventures in hope. Do but as much for your fouls, as thefe do for their bodies.
§IX. Temptations and difcouragements in the way of converfion.
UT here I expect to be encountered by all the policy and power of hell. Satan, and your own lufts, are in confederacy, to turn away your minds from fuch counsel and perfuafions as thefe. They will tell you, this is no proper feafon to mind your converfion; it is either too foon, or too late; You have not yet had pleasure enough in fin, or fo much as hath put you beyond all hopes of mercy: That religion is a melancholy thing, and if once you look that way, you will never have a merry day, or hour more; with a thousand fuch damps and difcouragements.
But pray, gentlemen, do fo much, at leaft for your fouls, before you turn away your ear from the inftructions of life, as to hear thefe matters examined: If they are not worth that, they are worth nothing.
I will fuppofe you in the flower and vigour of your youth, and this dangerous feafon now nicked with a more dangerous temptation; that it is too foon to mind fuch ferious matters now: You have not yet had your full pleafure out of fin.
Need I to fpend a word, to refute and baffle fuch a tempta. tion as this? I doubt not, but you yourselves can easily do it. Ask yourselves, Sirs, if fentence of death were paffed upon you by men, (as it is by God, Johniii. 18." He that believeth "not, is condemned already,") would you think a pardon could come too foon? Be affured, every bit of bread you eat, is the bread of the condemned; you are in danger of hell every day, and hour: There wants nothing but a fword, a bullet, a fhipwreck, or difeafe, (of which multitudes wait on you every day) to put you beyond mercy, and all hopes of mercy. And can you get too foon (think you) out of this danger and mifery? O why do you linger any longer? The danger is too great and imminent, to admit one hour's longer delay.
And it is as ftrange and ftrong a delusion on the other fide, to fancy it is now too late: The vanity and groundlessnefs of this, hath been evinced in the fecond fection, to which I refer you for full fatisfaction.
And for the lofs of your pleasures, by converfion to God,
that is the thinnest and filliest pretence of all the reft: That is the fame thing, as to imagine it is to a thirsty man's loss, to leave the puddle waters of a broken ciftern, to enjoy the cryftal ftreams of a flowing fountain; for the pleasures of an alehouse, playhouse, or whorehouse, to be fweeter than the light of God's countenance, the comforts of his pardon, or the lively hopes of glory with him in heaven; of which you read, 1 Pet. i. 8.
Poor men! O that you did but once know what the life of holiness, and dedication to God is! what the feals, earneft, and first-fruits of his Spirit are! How willingly and joyfully would you trample all the fordid pleasures of fin under your feet, to enjoy them!
JX. Motives and confiderations perfuading to converfion.
His short discourse shall wind up itself in motives and confiderations, to prevail with you, not only to make the first step out of profanenefs to civility; but the other neceffary and happy ftep too; for the Lord's fake, gentlemen, that bleffed step beyond mere civility, to ferious godliness.
O that I knew what words to chufe, and what arguments to urge, that might poffibly prevail with you! My witness is in heaven, I would do any thing within my power, to procure your temporal and eternal happiness. I beg you, in the bowels of Chrift Jefus, as if I were upon my bended knees before your feet, turn not away your eye nor ear from thefe difcourfes: Ponder and confider, once and again, what hath been rationally debated in the firft part, about your reformation, and what hath, and shall be offered, in this fecond part.
0 my God thou that haft counted me faithful, and put me into the miniftry; thou that haft inclined my heart to make this attempt, and encouraged me with hope, that it 'fhall not be in vain to all them that read it, if it must be so to fome; I befeech thee, lay the hand of thy Spirit upon the heart and hand of thy fervant; strengthen and guide him in ⚫ drawing the bow of the gofpel, and directing the arrows, that they may ftrike the mark he aims at, even the conviction and converfion of lewd and diffolute finners. Command these confiderations to stay and fettle in their hearts, till they bring them fully over to thyfelf in Chrift.'
Confideration 1. And firft, O that you would confider how the whole of your life past hath beeen caft away in vain, as to the great-end and bufinefs you came into the world for. You
have breathed many years, but not lived one day to God. Your \confciences could never yet prevail with you to get out of the noife and hurry of the world, and go along with it into fome private retiring-place, to debate the ftate of your fouls, and think clofe (but for one hour) on such awful subjects as God, foul, Chrift, and eternity, heaven, hell, death, and judgment. Do you think, gentlemen, that you came into this world to do nothing else but to eat and drink, fport and play, fleep and die? Ask yourfelves, I beseech you, whether the life you have hitherto lived, has looked to your own eyes like an earnest flight from hell, and a ferious pursuit of heaven and falvati. on? How much nearer are you got to Chrift now, than you were when in your cradles? The fweeteft, and fittest part of your life, is paffed away in vanity, and there is no calling one day, or hour of it, back again.
Confideration 2. Confider, gentlemen, for Chrift Jefus fake, you have yet an opportunity to be eternally happy, if you will light and neglect opportunities of falvation no longer; the door of mercy is not yet finally fhut up: The Lord Jesus yet waits to be gracious to you. Such is his aftonishing grace and mercy, he will pardon and pafs by all that you have done against him, if now, after all, you will but come unto him, that you may have life. Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die? Your wearing, and blafpheming, your drunkenness, uncleannefs, and enmity at godlinefs, fhall never be mentioned, you will yet repent and return. Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. "If the wicked will turn from all his fins that he hath committed, and keep all my ftatutes, and do that which is lawful and "right; he fhall furely live, he shall not die. All his tranfgreffions that he hath committed, they shall not be mention"ed unto him."
If you say, these are hard and impoffible terms to nature, it is true, they are fo, and God's end in urging them here upon you, is to convince you of your natural impotence, and drive you to Chrift; that by union with him, the righteoufnefs of the law might be fulfilled in you.
Confideration 3. Let it be thoroughly confidered, it is no less than falvation, and your own falvation too, which depends upon your converfion. How diligent was Chrift in purchafing falvation how negligent and remifs are we in applying it! O what compofitions of floth and stupidity are unconverted finners! how do they fit with folded arms, as if it were eafy to perish? Is this your running and ftriving to obtain the palms and crowns of immortal glory? Work cut (faith the a
poftle, Phil. ii. 12, 13.) your own falvation with fear and trembling. It is for falvation, and nothing lefs, you are here preffed to ftrive: And what care, pains, or folicitude of ours, can be equal and proportionate to fo great a thing as falvation? If every thought of the heart were refcued from all other concerns, and the mind ftand continually fixed with utmost intention upon this fubject, surely fuch a subject deserves it all, and much more.
But when you confider it is not another's, but your own falvation you are ftriving for; how powerful fhould the prin ciple of self-prefervation awaken and invigorate your utmost endeavours after it! The law of charity, and bowels of mercy, would compel us to do much to fave the body, and much more the foul of another: And will they move us to do nothing for our falvation?
Say not, if I fhould be careless and neglective, yet God is good, and gracious; if this feafon be neglected, there are more to come: Alas! that is more than you know. It is poffible your eternal happiness may depend upon the improvement of this present opportunity; there is much of time in a fhort opportunity.
Confideration 4. Do you think your hearts would be in fuch a dead, careless, and unconcerned frame, about this great and awful matter of your conversion and falvation; if those things were now before your eyes, which certainly and shortly must be before them!
How rational and neceffary is it, for you now to suppose thofe very things as prefent before you, which you know to be near you, and a few days or hours will make prefent? Here let me make a few fuppofitions, fo rational, because certainly future and near, that no wife man will, or dare to flight them, as fictions or chimera's.
Suppofition 1. Suppose yourselves now upon your death-beds, your hearts and breaths failing, your eyes and heart-strings breaking, all earthly comforts failing, and fhrinking from you; these things you know, are unavoidable, and muft fhortly befal you, Eccl. viii. 8. fuppofe alfo, in these your last extremities, your confciences fhould awake (as probably they will, there being now no more charms of pleasure, and finful companions, to divert or ftupify them) what a cafe will you find yourfelves in! what a cold fweat will then lie upon your pant. ing bofoms what a pale horror will appear in your countenances? Will you not then with, O that the time I have spent in vanity had been spent in the duties of ferious piety! O that
I had been as careful of my foul, as I was of my body! What are the pains of mortification, which I was fo afraid of, to the pains of damnation, which I begin to fcent, and apprehend! I thought it hard to pray, mourn, and deny myself; but I fhall find it harder to grapple with the wrath of an incensed God to all eternity.
Suppofition 2. Suppose yourselves now to be at the judgmentfeat of God, where you know you must be immediately after death; or, that you did behold the procefs, and awful folemnity of the general judgment of the great day! both which appearances are indifputably fure, and certain, Heb. ix. 27. 2 Cor. v. 10. Suppose you faw all Adam's pofterity there affembled, and convened, even multitudes, multitudes which no man can number; all these feparated into two grand divifions; Chrift, the fupreme and final Judge, upon the judg ment-feat; the Chriftless, and unregenerate world, quivering at the bar; the laft fentence pronouncing on them; the executioners standing ready to take them away: Will you not then (think you) be ready to tear yourselves with indignation, for this your fupine and fottifh careleffnefs? A voice from the throne, like the voice of a trumpet, founds a loud alarm to all careless, negligent, and trifling finners: And this is the voice, if you will not be in the fame cafe with the miserable, condemned world. Put to it heartily, then, in the ufe of all means with God and men, for converting and regenerating grace now, which is the only thing that differences your state from thofe miserable wretches then.
Suppofition 3. Suppose God did but give you a forefight, or foretaste in the terrors of your consciences, of that damnation you have jested at, and fo often imprecated upon yourselves: Did you but lie one night in that plight poor Spira, and maothers befide him have done, with the terrors of the Lord upon your fpirits, under horror, and remorfe of confcience, which are the first niblings and bitings of that worm which fball never die :
-Tum pallida mens eft
Criminibus, tacita fudant praecordia culpa. *
Palenefs and horror, fear and trembling, upon the outward and inward man, whilst God is making the immediate impreffions of his wrath upon the conscience; feeming to want fome one to let out that miferable, wretched foul, that is weary to
* The mind now confcious of its guilt,