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pleasant to you to be rid of your sin, than now very wilfulness is become an impotency, and it is to keep it; and you will then say, that you what they would not do, they say they cannot. knew not what a comfortable life was till now, The worldling is so taken up with earthly things and that it was never well with you till God that he hath neither heart, nor mind, nor time, and holiness were your delight:
for heavenly; but as in Pharoah's dream the lean Quest. But how comes it to pass, that men kine did eat up the fat ones, so this lean and should be so unreasonable in the matters of sal- barren earth eats up all the thoughts of heaven. vation? They have wisdom enough in other 5. Some are so carried away by the stream of matters ; what makes them so loth to be con- evil company, that they are possessed with hard verted, that there should need so many words in thoughts of a godly life, by hearing them speak so plain a case, and all will not do, but the most against it: or at least they think they may venwill live and die unconverted ?
ture to do as they see most do, and so they hold Ans. To name them only in few words, the on in their sinful ways; and when one is cut off causes are these :
and cast into hell, and another snatched away 1. Men are naturally in love with earth and from among them, to the same condemnation, it flesh, they are born sinners, and their nature hath doth not much daunt them, because they see not an enmity to God and godliness, as the nature whither they are gone. Poor sinners! They of a serpent bath to a man: and when all that hold on in their ungodliness for all this; for they we can say, goes against the habitual inclinations little know that their companions are now lamentof their natures, no marvel if it little prevail. ing it in torments. In Luke xvi. the rich man
2. They are in darkness, and know not the in hell would willingly have had one to warn his very things that they hear. Like a man that five brethren, lest they should come to that place was born blind, and hears a high commendation of torment. He knew their minds and lives, and of the light; but what will hearing do, unless he knew that they were hastening thither, and little sees it? They know not what God is, nor what dreamed that he was there, yea, and little would is the power of the cross of Christ, nor what the have believed one that should have told him so. spirit of holiness is, nor what it is to live in love I remember a passage a gentleman told me he by faith: they know not the certainty, suit- saw upon a bridge over Severn. A man was ableness, and excellency of the heavenly inheri- driving a flock of fat lambs, and something meettance. They know not what conversion, and a ing them and hindering their passage, one of the holy mind and conversation is, even when they lambs leaped upon the wall of the bridge, and his hear of it. They are in a mist of ignorance, they legs slipping from under him, he fell into the are lost and bewildered in sin, like a man that stream, and the rest seeing him, did one after hath lost himself in the night, and knows not another leap over the bridge into the stream, and where he is, nor how to come to himself again, were all, or almost all, drowned. Those that cill the day light recover him.
were behind, did little know what was become of 3. They are wilfully confident, that they need them that were gone before, but thought that no conversion, but some partial amendment; that they might venture to follow their companions ; they are in the way to heaven already, and are but as soon as ever they were over the wall, and converted, when they are not. If you meet a falling headlong, the case was altered. Even so man that is quite out of his way, you may long it is with unconverted carnal men. One dies enough call on him to turn back again, if he will by them, and drops into hell, and another follows not believe you that he is out of the way. the same way; and yet they will go after them,
4. They are become slaves to their flesh, and because they think not whither they are going. drowned in the world to make provision for it. Oh, but when death has once opened their eyes, Their lusts, passions, and appetites, have dis- and they see what is on the other side of the tracted them, and got such an hand over them, wall, even in another world, then what would that they cannot tell how to deny them, or how they give to be where they were! to mind any thing else : so that the drunkard 6. Moreover, they have a subtile, malicious saith, I love a cup of good drink and cannot enemy that is unseen of them, and plays his forbear it; the glutton saith, I love good cheer game in the dark; and it is his principal busiand I cannot forbear; the fornicator saith, Iness to hinder their conversion ; and therefore love to have my lusts fulfilled, and I cannot for- to keep them where they are, by persuading them bear; and the gamester loves to have his sports, not to believe the scriptures, or not to trouble and he cannot forbear. So that they are even their minds with these matters, or by persuading become captivated slaves to their flesh, and their them to think ill of a godly life; or to think that it is more ado than needs, and that they condition you will but accept it, and return. He may be saved without conversion, and without hath on this reasonable condition offered you the all this stir ; and that God is so merciful, that free pardon of all your sins: he hath written this he will not damn any such as they, or at least, in his word, and sealed it by his Spirit, and that they may stay a little longer, and take their sent it to you by his ministers ; they have made pleasure, follow the world yet a little longer, the offer to you a hundred, and a hundred times, then let it go, and repent hereafter, and by and called you to accept it, and turn to God. such juggling, deluding cheats as these the They have in his name intreated you, readevil keeps most in his captivity, and leads them soned the case with you, and answered all to misery.
your frivolous objections. He hath long waited These, and such like impediments as these, on you, staid your leisure, and suffered you do keep so many thousands unconverted, when i to abuse him to his face. He hath mercifully God hath done so much, Christ hath suffered so sustained you in the midst of your sins: he much, and ministers have said so much for their hath compassed you about with all sorts of conversion ; when their reasons are silenced, and mercies. He hath also intermixed afflictions, they are not able to answer the Lord that calls to mind you of your folly, and call you to reafter them, · Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?' flection: his Spirit hath been often striving with Yet all comes to nothing with the greatest part your hearts, and saying there, • Turn, sinner, of them; and they leave us no more to do after turn to him that calleth thee: whither art thou all, but to sit down and lament their wilful misery. going ; what art thou doing ; dost thou know
I have now showed you the reasonableness of what will be the end ; how long wilt thou hate God's commands, and the unreasonableness of thy friends, and love thine enemies; when wilt wicked men's disobedience. If nothing will thou let go all, and turn, and deliver up thyself serve but men will yet refuse to turn, we are to God, and give thy Redeemer the possession next to consider who is to blame if they be of thy soul ; when shall it once be?' damned. And this brings me to the last doc- These pleadings have been used with thee ; trine ; which is,
when thou hast delayed, thou hast been urged Doct. VII. That if after all this, men will to make haste, and God hath called to thee. not turn, it is not owing to God that they are · To-day, while it is called to-day, harden not condemned, but of themselves, even their own thy heart ; why not now without any more dewilfulness. They die because they will die, that lay? Life hath been set before you ; the joys is, because they will not turn.
of heaven have been opened to you in the gosIf you will go to hell, what remedy? God pel: the certainty of them have been manifested ; here acquits himself of your blood; it shall not the certainty of the everlasting torinents of the lie on him if you be lost. A negligent minister damned have been declared to you; unless you may draw it upon him ; and those that encour- would have had a sight of heaven and hell, what age you, or hinder you not in sin, may draw it could you desire more ? Christ hath been, as upon them; but be sure of it, it shall not lie it were, set forth crucified before your eyes. upon God. Saith the Lord concerning his un
You have been a hundred times told, that you profitable vineyard, “ Judge, I pray you, between are but lost men, till you come unto him; as me and my vineyard; what could have been oft as you have been told of the evil of sin, of done more to my vineyard, that I have not done the vanity of sin, the world, and all the pleasures to it?' When he had planted it in a fruitful soil, and wealth it can afford; of the shortness and and fenced it, and gathered out the stones, and uncertainty of your lives, and the endless duplanted it with the choicest vines,' what should ration of the joy or torment of the life to come. he have done more to it? He hath made you All this, and more than this, have you been men, and endued you with reason ; he bath fur- told, and told again ; even till you were weary nished you with external necessaries, all crea- of hearing it, till you could make the lighter of tures are at your service : he hath given you a it, because you had so often heard it; like the righteous perfect law; when you had broken it, smith's dog, that is brought by custom to sleep and undone yourselves, he bad pity on you, and under the noise of the hammers, when the sparks sent his Son, by a miracle of condescending mercy, do fly about his ears; and though all this have to die for you, and be a sacrifice for your sins, not converted you, yet you are alive, and might and he was in Christ reconciling the world to have mercy, to this day, if you had but hearts himself.' The Lord Jesus hath made you a free to entertain it. Now let reason itself be judge, offer of himself, and eternal life with him, on the whether it be owing to God or you, if after all this you will be unconverted, and be damned? | for ever!_0 that they were wise, that they If you die now it is because you will die. What understood this; and that they would consider should be said more to you? Or what course their latter end.' He would have been your should be taken, that is more likely to prevail ? God, and done all for you that your souls could Are you able to say and make it good, 'we well desire; but you loved the world and your would willingly have been converted and be- flesh above him ; and therefore you would not come new creatures, but we could not; we would hearken to him; though you complimented with have changed our company. our thoughts, and him, and gave him high titles, yet when he came our discourse, but we could not.' Why could to the closing, you would have none of him. you not if you would ? What hindered you No marvel then if "he give you up to your own but the wickedness of your hearts? Who forced heart's lusts, and you walked in your own counyou to sin; or who did hold you back from sels.' He condescends to reason, and pleads duty? Had you not the same teaching, and the case with you, and asks you what is there time and liberty to be godly as your godly in me, or my service, that you should be so much neighbours had? Why then could you not have against me? What harm have I done thee, sinbeen godly as well as they? Were the church ner? Have I deserved this unkind dealing at doors shut against you, or did you not keep thy hands ? Many mercies have I showed thee; away yourselves, or sit and sleep, or hear as if for which of them dost thou despise me? Is it you did not hear? Did God put in any excep. I, or is it Satan, that is thy enemy? Is it I, or tions against you in his word, when he invited is it thy carnal self, that would undo thee? Is sinners to return, and when he promised mercy it a holy life, or a life of sin, that thou hast cause to those that do return? Did he say, 'I will to fly from? If thou be undone, thou procur. pardon all that repent except thee?' Did he est this to thyself, by forsaking me the Lord shut you out from the liberty of his holy wor- that would have saved thee.-Doth not thine ship, or did he forbid you to pray to him any own wickedness correct thee, and thy sin remore than others? You know he did not. God prove thee; thou mayest see that it is an evil did not drive you away from him, but you for- and bitter thing, that thou hast forsaken me.sook him, and ran away yourselves. When he What iniquity have ye found in me, that ye have called you to him, you would not come. If God followed after vanity, and forsaken me.' He had excepted you out of the general promise calls out, as it were, to the brutes to hear the and offer of mercy, or had said to you, 'Stand controversy he hath against you. “Hear, Oye off, I will have nothing to do with such as you; mountains, the Lord's controversy, and ye strong pray not to me, for I will not hear you. If you foundations of the earth: for the Lord hath a repent never so much, and cry for mercy never controversy with his people, and he will plead so much, I will not regard you. If God had with Israel. O my people, what have I done to left you nothing to trust to but desperation, then thee, and wherein have I wearied thee; testify you had had a fair excuse. You might have said, against me, for I brought thee out of Egypt, and • To what end should I repent and turn, when it redeemed thee, &c. Hear, O heavens, and give will do no good ?' But this was not your case. ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken. I have You might have had Christ to be your Lord and nourished and brought up children, and they Saviour, your head and husband, as well as have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his others, and you would not; because that ye felt owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel not yourselves sick enough for the physician; doth not know, my people doth not consider: and because you could not spare your disease; ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a in your hearts ye said as those rebels, “We will seed of evildoers ! &c.—Do you thus requite the not have this man to reign over us.' Christ Lord, O foolish people and unwise ? Is not he “would have gathered you under the wings of thy Father that bought thee, made thee, and eshis salvation, and you would not.'
tablished thee?' When he saw that you forsook What desires of your welfare did the Lord him even for nothing, and turned away from your express in his holy word? With what compas- Lord and life, to hunt after the chaff of the world, sion did he stand over you and say, O that my he told you of your folly, and called you to a more people had hearkened unto me, and that they profitable employment, wherefore do you spend had walked in my way.-0 that there were such your money for that which is not bread, and a heart in this people, that they would fear me, your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearand keep all my commandments always, that it ken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is might be well with them, and with their children good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness
-Incline your ear and come unto me; hear and slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall deyour soul shall live, and I will make an everlas- stroy them : but whoso hearkeneth to me, shall ting covenant with you, even the sure mercies dwell safely, and shall be quiet from the fear of of David.-Seek ye the Lord while he may be evil. I thought best to recite the whole text found, call ye upon him, while he is near.–Let at large to you, because it doth show the cause the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous and destruction of the wicked. It is not beman his thoughts, and let him return unto the cause God would not teach them, but because Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to they would not learn. It is not because God our God, for he will abundantly pardon.' would not call them, but because they would not
And when you would not hear, what com- turn at his reproof. Their wilfulness is their plaints have you put him to, charging it on you, ruin. as your wilfulness and stubbornness! • Be aston- From what hath been said, you may farther ished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid : learn these following things : for my people have committed two evils ; they 1. From hence you may see, not only what have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters ; blasphemy and impiety it is, to lay the blame of and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, men's destruction upon God; but also bow unthat can hold no water.' Many a time hath fit these wicked men are to bring in such a charge Christ proclaimed that free invitation to you, against their Maker. They cry out upon God, • let him that is athirst come: and whosoever and say he gives them no grace, and his threatwill, let him take the water of life freely. But enings are severe, and God forbid that all should you put him to complain after all his offers ; be damned that be not converted and sanctified, they will not come to me that they may have and they think it hard measure, that a short sin life. He hath invited you to feast with him in the should have an endless suffering ; and if they kingdom of his grace ; and you have had excuses be damned, they say they cannot help it. When from your grounds, your cattle, your worldly in the mean time they are busy about their own business, and when you would not come, you destruction, even working the overthrow of their have said you could not, and provoked him to own souls, and will not be persuaded to hold resolve that you should never taste of his sup- their hand. They think God were cruel if he per,' and who is to blame but yourselves ? And should damn them, and yet they are cruel to them. what can you say is the chief cause of your dam- selves, and they will run into the fire of hell, nation, but your own wills ? You would be when God hath told them it is a little before damned. The whole case is laid open by Jesus them, and neither intreaties nor threatenings, Christ himself in Prov. i. 20—23. Wisdom nor any thing that can be said, will stop them. crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the We see them almost undone ; their careless, streets, she crieth in the chief place of the worldly, fleshly lives do tell us, that they are in concourse, How long, ye simple ones, will ye the power of the devil ; we know, if they die love simplicity, and ye scorners delight in their before they are converted, all the world cannot scorning, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn ye save them; and knowing the uncertainty of their at my reproof; behold I will pour out my Spirit lives, we are afraid every day lest they drop into upon you; I will make known my words unto the fire. And therefore we intreat them to pity you. Because I have called and ye refused, I have their own souls, and not to undo themselves when stretched out my hands, and no man regarded, mercy is at hand, and they will not hear us. We but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and intreat them to cast away their sin, and come to would have none of my reproofs : I also will Christ without delay, and to have some mercy laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your on themselves: but they will have none. And fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desola- yet they think that God must be cruel if he contion, and your destruction cometh as a whirl- demn them. O wilful wretched sinners! It is wind; when distress and anguish cometh upou not God that is so cruel to yon; it is you that you, then shall they call upon me, but I will not are cruel to yourselves. You are told you must answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall turn or burn, and yet you turn not. not find me. For that they hated knowledge, told, that if you will needs keep your sins, you and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They shall keep the curse of God with them; and yet would none of my counsels, they despised all my you will keep them. You are told, that there is reproof; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of no way to happiness but by holiness, and yet you their own way, and be filled with their own de- will not be holy. What would you have God vices. For the turning away of the simple shall say more to you ; what would you have him do
with his mercy ; he offered it to you, and you they will not be persuaded. If we should die will not have it. You are in the toils of sin and for it, we cannot get them so much as now and misery, and he would give you his hand to help then to consider with themselves of the matter you out, and you refuse his help; he would and to turn. And yet they can say, 'I hope cleanse
you of your sins, and you had rather keep God will be merciful.' Did you never consider them. You love your lusts, and love your glut- what he saith, “it is a people of no understanding, tony, and sports, and drunkenness, and will not therefore he that made them will not have mercy let them go ; and would you have him bring you on them ; and he that formed them will show to heaven whether you will or not? Or would them no favour. If another man will not clothe you have him to bring you and your sins to hea- you when you are naked, and feed you when you ven together? Why, that is an impossibility : are hungry, you will say he is unmerciful ; if he you may as well expect he should turn the sun should cast you into prison, or beat or torment into darkness. What! an unsanctified, fleshly you, you would say he is unmerciful. And yet heart be in heaven! It cannot be. “There enter- you would do a thousand times more against eth nothing that is unclean.-For what com- yourselves, even cast away both soul and body munication hath light with darkness, or Christ for ever, and never complain of your own unwith Belial ?-All the day long hath he stretched mercifulness. Yea, and God that waited upon out his hands to a disobedient and gainsaying you all the while with his mercy, must be taken people.
to be unmerciful, if he punish you after all this. What will ye do now? Will you cry to God Unless the holy God of heaven will give these for mercy? Why, God calleth upon you to have hardened men leave to trample upon his Son's mercy upon yourselves, and you will not; minis- blood, and with the Jews, as it were again to ters see the poisoned cup in the drunkard's hand, spit in his face, do despite to the Spirit of and tell him there is poison in it, and desire him grace, make a jest of sin, a mock at holiness, to have mercy on his soul, and forbear, and he and more disesteem saving mercy than the will not hear us; drink it he must and will, he filth of their fleshly pleasure; and unless, after loves it, and therefore though hell comes next, all this, he will save them by the mercy which he saith he cannot help it. What should one they cast away, and would have none of, God say to such men as these? We tell the ungodly, himself must be called unmerciful by them; careless worldlings, 'it is not such a life that will but he will be justified when he judgeth ; and serve the turn, or ever bring you to heaven. If he will not stand or fall at the bar of a sinful a bear were at your back, you would mend your pace; and when the curse of God is at your back, I know there are many particular cavils that and Satan and hell are at your back, you will not are brought by them against the Lord, but I shall stir, but ask, what needs all this ado? Is an im- not here stay to answer them particularly, having mortal soul of no more worth ? O have mercy done it already in my Treatise of Judgment, to upon yourselves! But they will have no mercy which I shall refer them. Had the disputing on themselves, nor once regard us. We tell them part of the world been as careful to avoid sin the end will be bitter. Who can dwell with the and destruction, as they have been busy in everlasting fire? Yet they will have no mercy searching after the cause of them, and forward upon themselves. Yet will these shameful trans- indirectly to impute it to God, they might have gressors say, that God is more merciful than to exercised their judgment more profitably, and condemn them, when it is themselves that have less wronged God, and sped better themcruelly and unmercifully run upon condemnation? selves. When so vile a monster as sin is within And if we should go to them and intreat them, us, and so heavy a thing as punishment is on us, we cannot stop them; if we should fall down on and so dreadful a thing as hell is before us, one our knees to them, we cannot stop them; but to would think it should be an easy question who hell they will, and yet will not believe that they is in the fault, and whether God or man be the are going thither. If we beg of them for the principal or culpable cause ? Some men are such sake of God that made them, and preserves favourable judges of themselves, that they are them; for the sake of Christ that died for them; more prone to accuse infinite perfection and for the sake of their own poor soul, to pity them- goodness itself, than their own hearts; and imiselves, and go no farther in the way to hell, but tate their first parents who said, “the serpent come to Christ while his arms are open, and enter tempted me, and the woman that thou gavest me, into the state of life, while the door stands open, gave unto me, and I did eat,' secretly implying and now take mercy while mercy may be had, I that God was the cause. So, say they, 'the un