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ther man ? for he expects to be dealt with, according to reason and the right of the case. There are fome men that are so governed by this rule that a man may know how they will act in any case; but those arbitrary men are men that live in a humour or passion, and no man knows where to have them, or what they will do.
The Conversion of a SINNER.
EZEK. xviii. 27. When the wicked man turneth away from his wicked
ness that he hath committed, and doth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
HE foregoing truth I have declared with great assurance unto you, and I am confident
nothing in God's creation can stand up in opposition to this noble and generous notion. And could I but fasten this upon the world, I should mend the world : for reformation must begin from within, from the better information of mens minds, before ever their actions will be well directed and governed. But here some one may rise up and say, may
I not please my own mind ?
Yes, thou may'st please thyself in materia libera ; that is, in matters of thy own right; where no boVOLI,
dy else hath any demand of right. Where the matter is wholly free and indifferent, as whether a man will ride or go on foot : in which, and a thousand other things of like nature, he doth no body any injury. Or,
Where it is only a man's own right, and no other man hath
him, there a man may please his own mind, without any offence to God, or injury to men. But otherwise, if I have not the sole right, but another hath a demand, then this of pleasing a man's self, or doing according to his own mind, must be excluded, and shut out of doors. I say, where the reason of the thing is contrary, or others have a demand of right, there a man's own mind is no warrant. Therefore this is that I resolve upon, where-ever a man hath autho. rity, or a lawful use, I would always have him have reason go along with the use of his authority; and then he will have a great satisfaction that doth command; and others will easily and readily obey. For a man loves to see reason for what he doth and then a man's commands are justified, when reason runs along with his will and pleasure. And he that obeys, will find it mighty eafy to obey reason ; but it is horribly troublesome to do without reason, and still worse to do against it. To obey without reafon, is to be led like beasts, and the nature of man will be impatient under it: for this is that which all men call for, do me reason, do me right, and when this is done men are satisfied. And this no man hould deny ; for God himself hath given reason for the rule of action and law of right. And ’tis
the very felf-fame thing for a man to observe God and fulfil his will, and to do that which reason doth require. For right is determined by its agreeableness with the reason of things ; and things are driven by force and violence, that are not done with reason: and therefore will return back again, as soon as that force is taken off. As if by power you bend a stick, it will return to its straightness, as foon as that force istaken off. If you draw a bow by Itrength never so much, it will return to its former latitude, when the hand is taken off. Things will not hold long, if under force and violence but if they be according to the right of the case, and according to reason, they will hold when they are done. And this is that which God expects, that a wicked man should turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right; by which he hall fave his foul alive. Which brings me
V. To the beneficial part of the words, the happiness that follows upon renovation, repentance, and turning to God. He that doth so, shall fave his foul alive. Where you have the principal part put for the whole : not that the body shall be neglected ; for God that takes care of oxen, will take care of it also. He shall save his soul alive ; not as if we were not to look
the soul as immortal : but this is the account I give of that. Misery is worse than death : to live, is to be well and in good health. I am fully satisfied, that it is better not to be 'at all than to be miserable ; and for this I will take our Saviour's warrant Mat. xxvi. 24. where he faith, that it had been good for that man if he had not
been hand repen
been born, that thould betray the son of God. And the apostle tells us, of the woman that liveth in wantonness, that the is dead even whilft she liveth. If any man be under guilt, he is dead while alive. Whosoever doth amiss, doth abuse himself, and wrong
his own soul : and he that doth continue in ill doing, doth take a course finally to undo himself. It is the case of us men, even of us, sometimes in life to have done amifs, and to have perverted our way. But thanks be to God, through the grace of the gospel, there is a way of recovery : repentance is a plank after shipwreck, whereby a man may save himself ; we are therefore not to despair ; but to turn from our wickedness; and we have God's declaration and promise that we shall save our souls alive. 'Tis a great word, but God hath spoken it, and shall not he make it good ? He mall save his foul alive, Ezek. xviii. 27. It is God that hath [poken it, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, who hath power to kill and to make alive. In the five books of Moses you have often these words that soul shall be cut off from among his people : that is the punishment shall be inflicted by the hand of God himself. And therefore it is said to be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. This sometimes, yea, very often, is the case of thosewhich fin so secretly, that they escape the cognizance of men. But the more are such men in danger of falling by the hand of God ; if by the secretness of the fact, the judgment of man cannot lay hold of it. For this is most certain, that none shall finally prevail.in wickedness : though hand join in hand, yet the wicked shall not go unpunished, Prov xi. 21. And where the hand of the magistrate, either because of power or secrecy, cannot reach, God himself will judge in those cases ; and he will proceed according as things are. Though before men not to be proved, and not to be, are the same thing yet God searcheth the heart, and he cannot be deceived. God hath given us double security for our lives, and we have just expectation from both : the first is from innocence, for God made us in his own image. But because we have failed, here is a lecond provision that God hath made by the motion of repentance, and this is God's after-grant. The first was the state of God's creation : the next was that of restoration, and recovery by repentance, which is declared by the gospel. So that now having lost our innocence, let us look after salvation by the motion of repentance, which through God's grace is sufficient, and will be effectual' to prevent punishment : which is the true explication of remiffion of sins. For if sin be committed, no power can make that not to have been done. Nor, secondly, if a thing hath been done amiss, can it be made not to be worthy of punishment. But the forgiveness of fin doth prevent the deserved punishment of fin. Therefore, since we have all of us lost the snow-like whiteness of innocence, which was the beauty of our creation : let us now look after that whiteness which is by blood. For fo you have the expression in the Revelations : that they were washed white in the blood of the lamb, Rev. vii. 14. The faith of the Lord Jesus Christ conjoined with our R3