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abate your fears and troubles! Suppose two men go to visit two several neighbors that have the plague, and one of them saith, It is the plague that is on you; you are but a dead man. The other saith to the other sick person, 'I is the plague that you have ; but here is our physician at the next door that hath a receipt that will cure it as infallibly and as easily as if it were but the prick of a pin, he hath cured thousands, and never failed one that took his receipt, but if you will not send to him, and trust him, and take his receipt, there is no hopes of you.' Telline now whether the first of these sick persons be not like to be more troubled than the other? And whether it will not remove almost all the fears and troubles of the latter, to hear of a certain remedy as soon as he heareth of the disease? Though some trouble he must needs bave to think that he hath a disease in itself so desperate or loathsome. Nay, let me tell you, so the cure be but well done, the less terrors and despairing fear you were put upon, the more credit is it to your physician and his apothecary, Christ and the preacher, or instrument, that did the work; and therefore you should rather praise your physician, than question the cure.

Doubt. 3. But it is common with all the world to consent to the religion that they are bred up in, and somewhat affected with it, and to make conscience of obeying the precepts of it. So do the Jews in theirs; the Mahometans in theirs. And I fear it is no other work on my soul but the mere force of education, that maketh me religious, and that I had never that great renewing work of the Spirit upon my soul; and so that all my religion is but mere opinion, or notions in my brain.'

Answ. 1. All the religions in the world, besides the Christian religion, have either much error and wickedness mixed with some truth of God, or they contain some lesser parcel of that truth alone (as the Jews;) only the Christian religion hath that whole truth which is saving. Now so much of God's truth as there is in any of these religions, so much it may work good effects upon their souls; as the knowledge of the Godhead, and that God is holy, good, just, merciful, and that he sheweth them much undeserved mercy in his daily providences, &c. But mark these two things, (1.) That all persons of false religions do more easily and greedily embrace the false part of their religion than the true; and that they are zealous for, and practice with all their might, because their natural corruption doth befriend it, and is as combustible fuel for the fire of hell to catch in; but that truth of God which is mixed with their error, if it be practical, they fight against it, and abhor it while they hold it, because it crosseth their lusts, insomuch that it is usually but some few of the more convinced and civil that God in providence maketh the main instrument of continuing those truths of his in that part of the wicked world. For we find that even among Pagans, the profaner and more sensual sort did deride the better sort, as our profane Christians do the godly whom they called Puritans. (2.) Note, That the truth of God which in these false religions is still acknowledged, is so small a part, and so oppressed by errors, that it is not sufficient to their salvation (that is, to give them any sound hope,) nor is it sufficient to make such clear, and deep, and powerful impressions in their minds, as may make them holy or truly heavenly, or may overcome in them the interest of the world and the flesh.

This being so, you may see great reason why a Turk or a heathen may be zealous for his religion without God's Spirit, or any true sanctification, when yet you cannot be so truly zealous for yours without it. Indeed the speculative part of our religion, separated from the practical, or from the hard and self-denying part of the practical, many a wicked man may be zealous for; as to maintain the Godhead, or that God is merciful, &c. Or to maintain against the Jews that Jesus is the Christ; or against the Turks, that he is the only Redeemer and teacher of the church; or against the Papists, that all the Christians in the world are Christ's church as well as the Romans; and against the Socinians and Arians that Christ is God, &c. But this is but a small part of our religion ; nor doth this, or any heathenish zeal, sanctify the heart, or truly mortify the flesh, or overcome the world. They may contemn life, and cast it away for their pride and vain-glory; but not for the hopes of a holy and blessed life with God. This is but the prevalency of one corruption against another, or rather of vice against nature. There is a common grace of God that goeth along with common truths, and according to the measure of their obedience to the truth, such was


the change it wrought; which was done by common truths, and common grace together, but not by their false mixtures at all. But God hath annexed bis special grace only to the special truths of the Gospel or Christian religion. If therefore God do by common grace, work a great change on a heathen, by the means of common truths, and do by his special grace work a greater and special change on you, by the means of the special truths of the Gospel, have you any reason hereupon to suspect your condition? Or should you not rather both admire that providence and common grace which is manisested without the church, and humbly, rejoicingly, and thankfully embrace that special saving grace, which is manifested to yourself above them?

2. And for that which you speak of education, you have as much cause to doubt of your conversion, because it was wrought by public preaching, as because it was wrought by education. For, 1. Both are by the Gospel : for it is the Gospel that your parents taught you, as well as which the preacher teacheth you. 2. I have shewed you, that if parents did not shamefully neglect their duties, the word publicly preached would not be the ordinary instrument of regeneration to the children of true Christians, but would only build them up, and direct them in the faith, and in obedience. The proof is very plain : If we should speak nothing of the interest of our infants in the covenant grace, upon the conditional force of their parents' faith, nor of their baptism; yet, Deut. vi. Ephes. vi. and oft in the Proverbs, you may find, that it is God's strict command, that parents should teach God's word to their children, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; yea, with a prediction or half promise, that if we « train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he shall not depart from it;" Prov. xxii. 6. Now it is certain that God will usually bless that which he appointeth to be the usual means, if it be rightly used. For he hath appointed no means to be used in vain.

I hope therefore by this time you see, that instead of being troubled, that the work was done on your soul by the means of education : i. You had more reason to be troubled if it had been done first by the public preaching of the word ; for it should grieve you at the heart to think, 1. That you lived in an unregenerate state so long

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ard spent your childhood in vanity and sin, and thought not seriously on God and your salvation, for so many years together. 2. And that you or your parent's sin should provoke God so long to withdraw his Spirit and deny you his grace. ii. You may see also what inconceivable thanks you owe to God, who made education the means of your early change: J. In that he prevented so many and grievous sins which else you would have been guilty of. (And you may read in David's and Manasseh's case, that even pardoned sins have ofitimes very sad effects left behind them.) 2. That you have enjoyed God's Spirit and love so much longer than else you would have done. 3. That iniquity took not so deep rooting in you, as by custom it would have done. 4. That the devil cannot glory of that service which you did him, as else he might ; and that the church is not so much the worse, as else it might have been by the mischief you would have done ; and that

; you need not all your days look back with so much trouble, as else you must, upon the effects of your ill doing ; nor with Paul, to think of one Stephen; yea, many saints, in whose blood you first embrued your hands; and to cry out, I was born out of due time. I am not worthy to be called a Christian, because I persecuted the church of God. I was mad against them, and persecuted them into several cities. I was sometimes foolish, disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures. Would you rather that God had permitted you to do this? 5. And methinks it should be a comfort to you, that your own father was the instrument of your spiritual good ; that he that was the means of your generation, was the means of your regeneration, both because it will be a double comfort to your parents, and because it will endear and engage you to them in a double bond. For my part, I know not what God did secretly in my heart, before I had the use of memory and reason; but the first good that ever I felt on my soul, was from the counsels and teachings of my own father in my childhood ; and I take it now for a double mercy, being more glad that he was the instrument to do me good, than if it had been the best preacher in the world. How foul an oversight is it then, that you should be troubled at one of the choicest mercies of your life, yea, that your life

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was capable of, and for which you owe to God such abundant thanks!

Doubt. 4. But my great fear is, that the life of grace is not yet within me, because I am so void of spiritual sense and feeling. Methinks I am in spiritual things as dead as a block, and my heart as hard as a rock, or the nether millstone. Grace is a principle of new life, and life is a principle of sense and motion ; it causeth vigor and activity. Such should I have in duty, if I had the life

But I feel the great curse of a dead heart within me. God seems to withdraw his quickening Spirit, and to forsake me; and to give me up to the hardness of my heart. If I were in covenant with him, I should feel the blessing of the covenant within me; the hard heart would be taken out of my body, and a beart of flesh, a soft heart would be given to me.

But I cannot weep one tear for my sins. I can think on the blood of Christ, and of my bloody sins that caused it, and all will not wring one tear from mine eyes; and therefore, I fear, that my soul is yet destitute of the life of grace.

Answ. 1. A soft heart consisteth in two things. (1.) That the will be persuadable, tractable, and yielding to God, and pliable to his will. (2.) That the affections or passions be somewhat moved herewithal about spiritual things. Some degree more or less of the latter, doth concur with the former ; but I have told you, that it is the former, wherein the heart and life of grace doth lie, and that the latter is very various, and uncertain to try by. Many do inuch overlook the Scripture meaning of the word bardheartedness. Mark it up and down concerning the Israelites, who are so oft charged by Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets, to be hardhearted, or to harden their hearts, or stiffen their necks; and you will find that the most usual meaning of the Holy Ghost is this, They were an intractable, disobedient, obstinate people ; or as the Greek word in the New Testament signifieth, which we often translate unbelieving, they were an unpersuadable people ; no saying would serve them. They set light by God's commands, promises, and severest threatenings, and judgments themselves; nothing would move them to forsake their sins, and obey the voice of God. You shall find that hardness of heart is seldom put for

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