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all this experience, all these judgments and mer- | the church, when they have obstinately recies of God, the people of this nation should jected all our admonitions, they rage at us as have joined together, as one man, to turn to the if we were their enemies, and their hearts are Lord ; and should have come to their godly filled with malice against us, and they will sooner teachers, lamented all their former sins, and de- set themselves against the Lord, his laws, sired them to join with them in public humi-church, and ministers, than against their deadly liation to confess them openly, and beg pardon sins. of them from the Lord, and should have This is the doleful case of Britain ; we have craved their instruction for the time to come, magistrates that countenance the ways of godliand be glad to be ruled by the Spirit within, andness, and a happy opportunity for unity and rethe ministers of Christ without, according to the formation is before us; and faithful ministers word of God. One would think, that after such long to see the right ordering of the church and reason and scripture evidence as they hear; and of the ordinances of God: but the power of sin after all these means and mercies, there should in our people doth frustrate almost all. No not be an ungodly person left among us, nor a where almost can a faithful minister set up the worldling, a drunkard, a hater of reformation, unquestionable discipline of Christ, or put back or an enemy to holiness, be found in all our the most scandalous impenitent sinners from the towns, or countries.
communion of the church, and participation of If we be not all agreed about some ceremon- the sacrament, but the most of the people rail at ies or forms of government, one would think them and revile thein: as if these ignorant carethat, before this, we should have been all agreed less souls were wiser than their teachers, or than to live a holy and heavenly life, in obedience to God himself; and fitter to rule the church than God, his word and ministers, and in love and they. Thus in the day of our visitation, when peace with one another. But alas ! how far are God calls upon us to reform his church, though our people from this course? Most of them, in magistrates seem willing, and faithful ministers most places, do set their hearts on earthly things, are willing, yet are the multitude of the people and seek not first the kingdom of God, and the still unwilling ; and sin hath so blinded them, righteousness thereof, but look at holiness as a and hardened their hearts, that even in these needless thing; their families are prayerless, or days of light and grace, they are the obstinate else a few heartless, lifeless words, must serve enemies of light and grace, and will not be instead of hearty, fervent, daily prayer; their brought by the calls of God, to see their folly, children are not taught the knowledge of Christ, and know what is for their good. O that and the covenant of grace, nor brought up in the people of England .knew, at least in this the nurture of the Lord, though they falsely pro- their day, the things that belong unto their mised this in their baptism. They instruct not peace, before they are hid from their eyes.' their servants in the matters of salvation ; but O foolish and miserable souls! Who hath beso their work be done, they care not. There witched your minds into such madness, and your are more oaths, curses, and railing speeches in hearts into such deadness, that you should be such their families, than gracious words that tend to mortal enemies to yourselves, and go on so obstiedification. How few are the families that fear nately towards damnation, that neither the word the Lord, and inquire after his word and minis- of God, nor the persuasions of men, can change ters, how they should liv and what they should your minds, or hold your hands, or stop you till do; and are willing to be taught and ruled, and you are past remedy! Well, sinner! This life that heartily look after everlasting life! And will not last always; this patience will not wait those few that God hath made so happy, are upon you still. Do not think that you shall commonly the bye-word of their neighbours: abuse your maker and redeemer, serve his enewhen we see some live in drunkenness, and some mies, debase your souls, trouble the world, wrong in pride and worldliness, and most of them have the church, reproach the godly, grieve your little care of their salvation, though the cause teachers, hinder reformation, and all this upon be gross, and past all controversy, yet will they free cost. You know not yet what this must hardly be convinced of their misery, and more
you must shortly know, when the hardly recovered and reformed; but when we righteous God shall take you in hand, who will have done all that we are able to save them bandle you in another manner than the sharpest from their sins, we leave them, most of them, as magistrates, or the plainest dealing pastors did, we find them. And if, according to the law of unless you prevent the everlasting torments by a God, we cast them out of the communion of sound conversion, and a speedy obeying the call of God. He that hath an ear to hear, let him will not be beholding to thee for the life and hear,' while mercy hath a voice to call.
mercies of another day? If so, then thou art One common objection, which I have after a blind atheist. But if thou thinkest he cares for touched, but with too much brevity, I find ad- thy body, canst thou think he cares not more for heres close to the hearts of many ungodly men. thy soul ? If he must regard to furnish thee They think that God doth not so much care with mercies, he will surely have a regard whewhat men think, or say or do, as we persuade ther thou love and live to him that gave them. them; and therefore they care so little them- 4. Dost thou believe that God is the governor of selves. For the convincing of such atheistical the world, or not? If not, then there can be no men as these, I shall propound the following rightful government ; for as no magistrate can questions :
have a power, but from the sovereign, so no 1. Dost thou think God cares whether thou sovereign can have power but from God, nor be a man or not? If not, who made thee, and be a lawful governor, but under him : and then preserved thee? If he do, then surely he cares all the world would be turned into confusion. whether thou behave thyself as a man. No man But if thou must needs confess that God is the is so foolish as to make any instrument, build an governor of the world, what an unwise, unrighthouse, or a ship, and not care, when he hath eous governor wouldst thou make him, if thou done, whether it be good for the use he made it. thinkest that he regards not the hearts and Do not, for shame then, impute such folly to the ways of those whom he doth govern? This still God of wisdom, as if he made so noble a crea- is but 10 deny him to be God. ture as man, and endowed him with such noble 5. If God do not care so much what is in our faculties, all for nothing, caring not what be- hearts, or what we do, why then should he make comes of him when he hath done. Why should a law for our hearts, words, and ways ? Would God give thee a mind that can know him, and he command us that which he doth not care for ? a heart that can love him, when he cares not Would he so strictly forbid sin, if he were indifwhether thou know him, love him, or not? Do ferent whither we sin or not?
Would he proyou not see, that in the course of nature every mise eternal life to the holy and obedient, if he thing is fitted to its use ? The beasts know not cared not whether we be holy and ebedient, or God, nor are capable of loving him, because they not? Would he threaten hell to all that are unwere made for no such use; but thy capacity godly, if he cared not whether we are godly or shows that thou wast made for God, and for a not? Darest thou say, that the almighty, holy life to come.
God designs to rule the world by a lie, and to 2. Dost thou think that God is every where deceive men into obedience? Yea, the very law present, infinite, and all-sufficient ? If not, of nature itself doth contain not only precepts thou dost not believe that he is God, and it is of our duty, but the hopes and fears of the life unreasonable to imagine that God hath made a to come, without which the world could not be world that is greater, and more extensive or com- governed; and certainly they are no deceits prehensive than himself! For none can commu- by which an infinite wisdom, power, and goodnicate more than he hath. But if thou art forced ness, governs the world. to confess that God is every where, and as suf- 6. If God did not much regard our bearts and ficient for every single man, as if he had never lives, why doth he make all the world to be our another creature to regard, thou must needs con- servants? Doth he give us the sun, the moon, fess then that he is not careless of the hearts and the stars, the earth, and all the creatures, to attend ways of the sons of men : for they are things us and serve us with their lives and virtues, and that are still before his eyes. Base and blas- yet doth he not care for our hearts or service? phemous thoughts of God, as if he were limited, this is as foolish as to say, that he hath made all absent or insufficient, are what make men think the world in vain, and cares not for it, now he him so regardless of their hearts and ways. hath made it.
3. Dost thou think that God cares what be- 7. If he cared not for the frame of our hearts comes of thy body,—whether thou be sick or and lives, he would not have sent his Son to rewell; whether thou live or die ? If not, then deem us, and to cleanse us from iniquity, and how camest thou by thy life, health, and mer- sanctify us a 'peculiar people to himself. Surely cies? If they came from any other fountain, the price that was paid for sinners, and the wontell us from whence: is it not to God that thou derful design of God in our redemption, shows prayest for thy life and health? Darest thou that he makes not light of sin, and that he is wonsay to him, I will not depend upon thee ? Il derfully in love with holiness.
8. If God doth not regard our hearts and lives, and partial, you would know that one sin against he would not have made it the office of his minis- God deserves more punishment than ten thouters to call us daily to repentance and an holy sand thousand times as much against such silly life; nor commanded them to make such a stir things as you. Do you make no matter of differwith sinners to win them unto God; he would ence between a bad servant and a good one ; an not have appointed all his ordinances, public and obedient and a disobedient child; a son that will private, also to this end. Doth God command lay down his life for you, and a son that longs all this ado for a thing he regards not ? for your death, that he may have your land ;
9. Nor would he punish the world with hell between a faithful friend, and a deadly enemy? hereafter, or so many dreadful judgments here, If you do not, you are not men, but something as thousands feel, if he cared not what they think else in human shape. If you do, then you are or do. Methinks, men that are so often groan somewhat worse than men, if yet you'would have ing under his rod, should feel that he looks after the blessed God to make no great difference betheir hearts and ways.
tween those that love him above all the world, 10. And how can the Holy Ghost be our and those that regard him not ; between the holy sanctifier, if God be so indifferent, whether we and unholy soul. be clean or unclean ? Dare you think that the Second, I would ask you, whether you would Holy Ghost doth take upon him a needless have the rulers of the world to take care what work?
men say or do, or would you not ? If not, then 11. Methinks you might perceive, even in the you would have all the world turned loose, and malice of the tempter, that God is holy, and you would have every man that is poorer than hateth iniquity; and his word is true, that tells you, have leave to rob you: and every man that us of the eternal punishment of sin. The hates you, have leave to beat, or kill you; and scripture tells us of the angels' fall, and that every man that likes your house, or lands, or many of them are become devils by their sin, goods, or cattle, to have leave to take them from and are malicious enemies of man's salvation. you ; and every man defile your wives or daughAnd do you not easily perceive it to be true ? | ters, that hath a mind to it? And so we should How came they else to be such importunate see, whither it is that infidelity leads men. But tempters of men, which we feel, alas, by too if you like not this, then you are most unreasonmuch experience ? Or if this evidence be not able, if you would have magistrates to be repalpable enough to convince the infidel, how gardful of men's actions, and not God. If magiscome they' to make so many bargains with de- trates must hang men for wronging you, and the ceivers, to draw them from God and salvation, eternal majesty must not punish them for wrongas they have done ?
ing him, and breaking his laws, which is infinitely - 12. Lastly, if yet you think that God, the a great matter. As if you would have a consovereign ruler of the world, who is every stable punish men, and the king or judge to where present," and preserves all, cares so little have no regard of it. For kings are under God, what. men are, or what they do, whether they as constables are under kings, and a thousand-fold are holy or unholy, obedient or disobedient to lower. his laws, then methinks that you yourselves, and The truth is, wicked men are fallen so far all the rest of your fellow-creatures, should little from God to themselves, that they are as gods care.
to themselves in their own esteem, and besides Two 'other questions therefore I must pro- themselves they know no God; and therefore pound to you.
any wrong that is done against them, or any First, do not you care what men say of you, or good that is done for them, they would have redo to you? Are you contented that men slander garded: but the wrong and disobedience that is you, or abuse you, or set your houses or towns against God they would have nothing made of on fire, or destroy your cattle, or wives, or chil- it. And they have such narrow, blasphemous dren, and imprison, wound, or kill yourselves ? thoughts of God, as if he were a finite creature If you will make a great matter what men say or like themselves, that can be but in one place at do against you, can you be so mad, (for it is no once, that makes them so blaspheme his provibetter) as to think that the omnipotent, holy dence, and think he minds no good or evil, and God, should little regard what is said, or done will not regard the godly, or punish the ungodly, against himself, and against his servants, and that but were like the idols of the heathen, that have by such silly worms as men, who are his work- eyes and see not, ears and hear not, and hands manship? Did not selfishness make you blind I without an executive power. But when the memorial book of God is opened, which is written decreed to save any but the sanctified, nor to for them that fear the Lord, and think upon his damn any but the unsanctified. God doth as name; and when the Lord shall say of them, truly decree from everlasting, whether your
land • These are mine,' as he is making up his jewels, this year shall be barren, or fruitful, and just how and spares them, as a man spares his son that long you shall live in the world, as he hath deserves him, then shall these infidels return to creed whether you shall be saved or not. And their senses and the righteous shall return from yet you would think that man but a fool, that their fears and sufferings, and shall discern be- would forbear ploughing and sowing and say, If tween the righteous and the wicked, between God have decreed that my ground shall bear corn, those that serve God, and those that serve him it will bear whether I plough and sow or not. If not.
God have decreed that I shall live, I shall live wheAnother objection I find most common in the ther I eat or not; but if he have not, it is not eating mouths of the ungodly, especially of late years: will keep me alive. Do you know how to answer they say, We can do nothing without God; we such a man, or do you not? If you do, then you cannot have grace, if God will not give it us; know huw to answer yourselves: for the case is and if he will, we shall quickly turn; if he have alike: God's decree is as peremptory about your not predestinated us, and will not turn us, how bodies as your souls ; if you do not then try first can we turn ourselves, or be saved. It is not in these conclusions upon your bodies, before you him that wills, or in him that runs : and thus venture to try them on your souls: see first whether they think they are excused.
God will keep you alive without food or raiment, I have answered this formerly, and in this and whether he will give you corn without tilbook ; but now let me now say this much. 1. lage and labour, and whether he will bring you Though you cannot cure yourselves, you can to your journey's end without your travel or carhurt and poison yourselves; it is God that must riage: and if you speed well in this, then try sanctify your hearts ; but who corrupted them ? whether he will bring you to heaven without Will you wilfully take poison, because you can- your diligent use of means and sit down and say, not cure yourselves ? Methinks you should the We cannot sanctify ourselves. more forbear it: you should the more take heed And for the point of free will, which you harp of sinning, if you cannot mend what sin doth so long upon ; divines are not so much disagreed mar. 2. Though you cannot be converted with about it as you imagine. Augustin as well as out the special grace of God, yet you must know Pelagius, Calvin as well as Arminius, the Dothat God gives his grace in the use of his holy minicans as well as the Jesuits, all generally means which he hath appointed to that end; and maintain, that man hath free-will; the Orthodox common grace may enable you to forbear your say, that free-will is corrupted and disposed tu gross sinning, as to the outward act, and to use evil. Epiphanius condemned Origen for saying, those means. Can you truly say,
that you do that man had lost the image of God, and makes as much as you are able to do? Are you not it a point of heresy. And yet one may truly say, able to go by an ale-house door, or to shut your that man hath lost God's image; and another mouths and keep out the drink? Or to forbear may truly say, that he hath not lost it.. For the company that hardens you to sin? Are there is a two-fold image of God on man: the you not able to go to hear the word, and think one is natural, and that is our reason and freeof what you heard when you come home? And will, and this is not lost, the other is qualitative to consider with yourselves of your own condi- and ethical, and this is our holiness, and this is tion, and of everlasting things? Are you not lost, and by grace restored. No man of judgable to read good books from day to day, at least ment denies that a man hath a will that is naon the Lord's day, and to converse with those turally free ; it is free from violence, and it is a that fear the Lord ? You cannot say that you self-determining principle; but it is not free have done what you are able. 3. Therefore from evil dispositions. It is habitually averse you must know that you can forfeit the grace to God and holiness, and inclined to earthly, and help of God, by your wilful sinning or neg- fleshly things. It is enslaved by a sinful bias. ligence, though you cannot, without grace, turn This no man, methinks, that is a Christian, to God. If you will not do what you can, it is should deny; and of the aged, I see not how just with God to deny you that grace by which an infidel can deny it. Alas, we easily confess you might do more. 4. And for God's decrees, to you, that you have not the spiritual, moral you must know that they separate not the end | free-will, which is but your right inclinations. I and means, but bind them together. God never had no need to write such books as these, to per
suade you to be willing in a case on which your Inquire of God, as a man that is willing to own salvation lies. To the grief of our souls, know the truth, and not be a wilful deceiver of we perceive after all our preachings and persua- your own soul. Search the holy scriptures daily, sions, that the ungodly have not this spiritual and see whether these things be so or not: try free-will. But this is nothing but your willing- impartially whether it be safer to trust heaven or ness itself, and inclination to be willing ; and earth; and whether it be better to follow God therefore the want of it is so far from excusing or man, the Spirit or the flesh; and better to live you, that the more you want it, that is, the more in holiness or sin. Whether an unsanctified you are wilful in sin, the worse you are, and the state be safe for you to abide in one day longer; sorer will be your punishment. Our preachings and when you have found out which is best, reand persuasions, your hearing and considering, solve accordingly, and make your choice without are the appointed means to get this moral power any more ado. If you will be true to your own of freedom, that is, to make you truly willing. souls, and do not love everlasting torments, I be
I have but three requests to you, and I have seech you, as from the Lord, that you will but done. First, That you will seriously read over take this reasonable advice. O what happy towns this small treatise ; and if you have such that and countries, and what a happy nation might need it in your families, that you read it over we have, if we could but persuade our neighbours and over to them : if those that fear God, would to agree to such a necessary motion! What go now and then to their ignorant neighbours, joyful men would all faithful ministers be, if they and read this or some other book to them of this could but see their people truly heavenly and subject, they might be a means of winning souls. holy! This would be the unity, the peace, the If we cannot entreat so small a labour of men safety, the glory of our churches, the happiness for their own salvation, as to read such short in- of our neighbours, and the comfort of our souls. structions as these, they greatly abuse themselves, Then how comfortably should we preach pardon and will most justly perish. Secondly, When and peace to you, and deliver the sacraments, you have read over this book, I would entreat which are the seals of peace, to you! With you to go alone, and ponder a little what you what love and joy might we live among you! have read, and bethink you, as in the sight of At your death bed, how boldly might we comGod, whether it be not true, and do not nearly fort and encourage your departing souls! At touch your souls, and whether it be not time for your burial, how comfortably might we leave you you to consider your ways: and also intreat that in the grave, in expectation to meet your souls you will fall upon your knees and beseech the in heaven, and to see your bodies raised to that Lord that he will open your eyes to understand glory. the truth, and turn your hearts to the love of But if still the most of you will go on in a God, and beg of him all that saving grace, that careless, ignorant, fleshly, worldly, or unholy you have so long neglected, and follow it on from life; and all our desires and labours cannot so day to day, till your hearts be changed. And far prevail, as to keep you from the wilful damnwithal, that you will go to your pastors that are ing of yourselves, we must then imitate our Lord, 'set over you, to take care of the health and who delights himself in those few that are his safety of your souls, as physicians do for the jewels, and the little flock that shall receive the health of your bodies, and desire them to direct kingdom, when the most shall reap the misery you what course to take, and acquaint them which they sowed. In nature excellent things with your spiritual estate, that you may have the are few. The world hath not many suns nor - benefit of their advice and ministerial help. Or moons; it is but a little of the earth that is gold or if you have not a faithful pastor at home, make silver; princes and nobles are but a small part use of some other in so great a need. Thirdly, of the sons of men. And it is no great number When by reading, consideration, prayer and that are learned, judicious or wise, in this ministerial advice, you are once acquainted with world. And therefore if the gate being strait, your sin and misery, with your duty and remedy, and the way narrow, there be but few that find delay not, but presently forsake your sinful com- salvation; yet God will have his glory and pleapany and courses, turn unto God, obeying his sure in those few. And when Christ shall come call, and as you love your souls, take heed that with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking you go not on against so loud a call of God, and vengeance on them that know not God, and obey against your own knowledge and conscience, lest not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, bis it go worse with you in the day of judgment coming will be glorified in his saints, and adthan with Sodom and Gomorrah.
mired in all true believers.'