« PreviousContinue »
derstanding that thou gavest me, was unable to that it hath not a virtuous moral freedom. But discern; the will that thou gavest me, was unable that it is the wickedness of it which deserves the to make a better choice; the objects which thou punishment. I
pray you let us not befool didst set before me, did entice me; the tempta- ourselves with opinions. Let the case be your tion which thou didst permit to assault me, pre-own. If you had arr enemy so malicious, that vailed against me.' And some are so loth to he falls upon you and beats you every time he think that God can make a self-determining meets you, and takes away the lives of your creature, that they dare not deny him that which children, will you excuse him, because he saith, they take to be his prerogative, to be the deter- I have not free-will, it is my nature, I cannot miner of the will in every sin, as the first efficient choose, unless God give me grace ? If you have immediate physical cause. And many could be a servant that robs you, will you take such content to acquit God from so much causing of an answer from him ? Might not every thief and evil, if they could but reconcile it with his being murderer that is hanged at the assizes give such the chief cause of good: as if truths would be an answer, I have not free-will, I cannot change no longer truths, than we are able to see them in my own heart: what can I do without God's their perfect order and coherence. Because our grace ? Shall they therefore be acquitted ? If shallow understandings cannot set them right not, why then should you think to be acquitted for together, nor assign each truth its proper place, a course of sin against the Lord ? we presume to conclude, that some must be cast 2. From hence also you may observe these away. This is the fruit of proud self-conceit, three things together. First, What a subtle when men receive not God's truth as a child his tempter Satan is. Second What a deceitful lesson, in a holy submission to the holy omni- thing sin is. Third, What a foolish creature science of our teacher, but as censurers that are corrupted man is. A subtle tempter indeed, that too wise to learn.
can persuade the greatest part of the world to go Object. But we cannot convert ourselves till wilfully into everlasting fire, when they have so God convert us; we can do nothing without his many warnings and dissuasives as they have! grace. It is not in him that willeth, nor in him A deceitful thing is sin indeed, that can bewitch that runneth, but in God that showeth mercy. so many thousands to part with everlasting life,
Ans. l. God hath two degrees of mercy to for a thing so base and utterly unworthy: a foolish show: the mercy of conversion first; and the creature is man indeed, that will be so cheated of mercy of salvation last : the latter he will give to his salvation for nothing, yea, for a known none but those that will and run, and hath pro- nothing; and that by an enemy, a known enemy! mised it to them only. The former is to make you would think it impossible that any man in them willing that were unwilling; and though his senses should be persuaded, for a trifle, to cast your own willingness and endeavours deserve not himself into the fire or water, into a coal-pit, to his grace, yet your wilful refusal deserves that the destruction of his life? And yet men will it should be denied unto you. Your disability be enticed to cast themselves into hell. If y
your is your very unwillingness itself, which excuses natural lives were in your own hands, that you not your sin, but makes it the greater. You should not die till you would kill yourselves, could turn, if you were but truly willing, and if how long would most of you live? Yet when your wills themselves are so corrupted, that your everlasting life is so far in your own hands, nothing but effectual grace will move them, you under God, that you cannot be undone till you have the more cause to seek for that grace, and undo yourselves, how few of you will forbear yield to it, and do what you can in the use of the your own undoing! Ah, what a silly thing is means, and not neglect it, nor set against it. man; and what a bewitching and befooling thing Do what you are able first, and then complain is sin ! of God for denying you grace, if you have 3. From hence also you may learn, that it is
no great wonder if wicked men be hinderers of Object. But you seem to intimate all this others in the way to heaven, and would have as while that man hath free-will.
many unconverted as they can, and would draw Ans. The dispute about free-will is beyond them into sin, and keep them in it. Can you your capacity, I shall therefore now trouble you expect that they should have mercy on others, with no more but this about it. Your will is that have none upon themselves; and that they naturally a free, that is, a self-determining faculty, should much stick at the destruction of others, but it is viciously inclined, and backward to do that stick not to destroy themselves? They do good; and therefore we see by sad experience no worse by others, than they do by themselves.
4. Lastly, You may hence learn that the great- 1 is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then est enemy to man is himself, and the greatest when lust hath conceived it bringeth furth sin; judgment in this life that can befall him is to and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.' be left to himself; that the greatest work that You see here that sin is the offspring of your grace hath to do is to save us from ourselves, own depraved desires, and not to be fathered on and the greatest accusations and complaints of God; that death is the offspring of your own men should be against themselves; that the great- sin, and the fruit which it will yield you as soon est work we have to do ourselves, is to resist our- as it is ripe. You have a treasure of evil in selves, and that the greatest enemy we should yourselves, as a spider hath of poison, from daily pray and strive against, is our carnal hearts whence you are bringing forth hurt to yourselves; and wills; and the greatest part of your work, and spinning such webs as intangle your own if you would do good to others, and help them souls. Your nature shows that you are the to beaven, is to save them from themselves, cause. even from their own blind understandings, cor- 2. It is evident you are your own destroyers, rupted wills, perverse affections, violent passions, in that you are so ready to entertain any tempand unruly senses. I only name all these for tation almost that is offered you. Satan is brevity sake, and leave them to your farther con- scarcely readier to move you to any evil, than sideration.
you are ready to hear, and to do as he would Now we have found out the great delinquent have you. If he would tempt your understandand murderer of souls, even men’s selves, their ing to error and prejudice, you yield. If he own wills; what remains, but that you judge hinder you from good resolutions, it is soon according to the evidence, and confess this great done: if he would cool any good desires or afiniquity before the Lord, be humbled for it, and fections, it is soon done: if he would kindle any do so no more? To these three ends distinctly, lust, or vile affections and desires in you, it is I shall add a few words more. First, Farther soon done: if he would put you on to evil to convince you. Second, To humble you. And thoughts, words, or deeds, you are so free that Third, To reform you, if there be yet any hopes. he needs no rod or spur: if he would keep you
1. We know so much of the exceedingly gra- from holy thoughts, words, and ways, a little cious nature of God, who is willing to do good, doth it; you need no curb. You examine not. and delights to show mercy, that we have no his suggestions, nor resist them with any resolureason to suspect him of being the culpable tion, nor cast them out as he casts them in, nor cause of our death, or call him cruel : he made quench the sparks which he endeavours to kinall good, and he preserves and maintains all : dle. But you set in with him, meet him half• the eyes of all things do wait upon him, and he way, embrace his motions, and tempt him to giveth them their meat in due season; he open- tempt you. It is easy to catch such greedy fis! eth his hand, and satisfieth the desires of the that are ranging for a bait, and will take the bare living.' He is not only “righteous in all his hook. ways,' and therefore will deal justly, and holily 3. Your destruction is evidently procured by. in all his works (and therefore not the author of yourselves, in that you resist all that would help sin) but “he is also good to all, and his tender to save you, and would do you good, or hinder mercies are over all his works.'
you from undoing yourselves. God would help But as for man, we know his mind is dark, his and save you by his word, and you resist it, it will perverse, and his affections carry him head is too strict for you. He would sanctify you long, so that he fitted by folly and corruption, by his Spirit, and you resist and quench it. If to such a work, as the destroying of himself. If any man reprove you for your sin, you fly in you saw a lamb lie killed in the way, would you his face with evil words; and if he would draw sooner suspect the sheep or the dog, or wolf to you to a holy life, and tell you
of your present be the author of it, if they both stand by; or if danger, you give him little thanks, but either bid you see an house broken, and the people mur- him look to himself, he shall not answer for you ; dered, would you sooner suspect the prince, or or else at best you put him off with heartless judge, that is wise and just, and had no need ; thanks, and will not turn when you are peror a “known thief, or murderer? I say, there- suaded. If ministers would privately instruct fore, ‘Let no man say when he is tempted, that and help you, you will not come to them, your he is tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted unhumbled souls feel but little need of their with evil, neither tempteth he any man (to draw help. If they would catechise you, you are him to sin) but every man is tempted, when hel too old to be catechised, though you are not too
old to be ignorant and unholy. Whatever they repine; if he prosper you, you the more forget can say to you for your good, you are so self- him, and are the more backward to the thoughts conceited and wise in your own eyes, even in of the life to come: if the wicked prosper, you the depth of ignorance, that you will regard no- forget the end that will set all reckonings straight; thing that agrees not with your present conceits, and are ready to think it is as good to be wicked but contradict your teachers, as if you were as godly. And thus you draw your death wiser than they; you resist all that they can say from all. to you, by your ignorance and wilfulness, foolish 7. The like you do from all the creatures and cavils, shifting evasions, and unthankful rejec- mercies of God to you; he gives them to you as tions ; so that no good that is offered, can find the tokens of his love, and furniture for his serany welcome acceptance or entertainment with vice, and you turn them against him to the pleasyou.
ing of your flesh. You eat and drink to please 4. Moreover, it is apparent that you are self- your appetite, not for the glory of God, and to destroyers, in that you draw the matter of your enable you for his work; your clothes you sin and destruction even from the blessed God abuse to pride ; your riches draw your hearts himself; you like not the contrivance of his from heaven ; your honours and applause puff wisdom: you like not his justice, but take it for you up; if you have health and strength, it cruelty: you like not his holiness, but are ready makes you more secure, and forget your end. to think he is such a one as yourselves, and Yea, other men’s mercies are abused by you to makes as light of sin as you: you like not his your hurt: if you see their honours and dignity, truth, but would have his threatenings, even his you are provoked to envy them; if you see peremptory threatenings, prove false. His good their riches, you are ready to covet them; if ness, which you seem most highly to approve, you look upon beauty, you are stirred up to lust; you partly abuse to the strengthening of your and it is well if godliness be not an eye-sore to sin, as if you might the more freely sin because you. God is merciful, and because his grace doth so 8. The very gifts that God bestows on you, much abound.
and the ordinances of grace which he hath insti. 5. Yea, you draw destruction from your blessed tuted for his church, you turn into your sin. If Redeemer, and death from the Lord of life him- you have better parts than others, you grow self, and nothing more emboldens you in sin, proud and self-conceited: if you have but comthan that. Christ hath died for you; as if now mon gifts, you take them for special grace. You the danger of death were over, and you might take the bare hearing of your duty for so good boldly venture: as if Christ were become a ser- a work, as if it would excuse you for not obeyvant to Satan, and your sins, and must wait upon ing it. Your prayers are turned into sin, because you while you are abusing him; because he you “regard iniquity in your hearts,--and deis become the physician of souls, and is able to part not from iniquity when you call on the name save to the utmost, all that come to God by him, of the Lord.—Your prayers are abominable, be-yoų think he must suffer you to refuse his help, cause you turn away your ear from hearing the and-throw away his inedicines, and must save law, and are more ready to offer the sacrifice you, whether you will come to God by him or of fools,' thinking you do God some special sernot; so that a great part of your sins are occa- vice, than to hear his word and obey it. You sioned by your bold presumption upon the examine not yourselves before you receive the death of Christ, and from not considering that supper of the Lord, but not discerning the Lord's he came to redeem his people from their body, eat and drink judgment to yourselves. sins, to sanctify them a peculiar people to 9. Yea, the persons you converse with, and himself, and to conform them in holiness to all their actions, you make the occasions of your the image of their heavenly Father, and to sin and destruction. If they live in the fear of their head.
God, you hate them ; if they live ungodly, you 6. You also procure your own destruction imitate them ; if the wicked are many, you think from all the providences and works of God. you may the more boldly follow them; if the godWhen you think of his eternal fore-knowledge ly be few, you are the more emboldened to despise and decrees, it is to harden you in your sin, or them: if they walk exactly, you think they are too possess your minds with quarrelling thoughts, as precise : if one of them fall into a particular tempif his decrees might spare you the labour of re- tation, you stumble upon them, and turn away from pentance, and an holy life, or else were the cause holiness, because others are imperfectly holy; as of your sin and death. If he afflict you, you if you were warranted to break your necks be
cause some others have, by their heedlessness, gratifying the desires of your flesh. But alas, sprained a sinew or disjointed a bone. If a hy- it is but as a draught of cold water in a burning pocrite discover himself, you say, they are all fever. If indeed you would have pleasure, profit, alike, and think yourselves as honest as the best. or honour, seek them where they are to be found, A professor can scarcely slip into any miscarriage, and do not hunt after them in the way to hell. but because he cuts his finger, you think you 3. What pity is it, that you should do that may boldly cut your throats. If ministers deal against yourselves, which none else in earth or plainly with you, you say they rail ; if they hell can do! If all the world were combined speak gently or coldly, you either sleep under against you, or all the devils in hell were comthem, or are little more affected than the seats bined against you, they could not destroy you you
If any errors creep into the church, without yourselves, nor make you sin, but by some greedily entertain them, and others reproach your own consent. Will you do that against the Christian doctrine for them, which is most yourselves which none else can do; you
have against them. And if we would draw you from hateful thoughts of the devil, because he is your any ancient rooted error, which can but plead enemy, and endeavours your destruction ; and two, or three, or six, or seven hundred years' will you be worse than devils to yourselves ? custom, you are as much offended with a motion Why thus it is with you, if you had hearts to for reformation, as if you were to lose your life understand it; when you run into sin, and run by it, and hold fast old errors while you cry out from godliness, and refuse to turn at the call against new ones. Scarce a difference can arise of God, you do more against your own souls among the ministers of the gospel, but you will than men or devils could do besides. If you fetch your own death from it. And you will should set yourselves and bend your minds to not hear, or at least, not obey the unquestionable do yourselves the greatest mischief, you could doctrine of any of those that agree not with your not devise to do a greater. conceits : one will not hear a minister, because 4. You are false to the trust that God hath he reads his sermons, and another will not hear reposed in you. He hath much intrusted you him, because he doth not read them: one will with your own salvations and will you betray not hear him, because he saith the Lord's prayer; your trust ? He hath set you with all diligence and another will not hear him, because he doth to keep your hearts ; and is this the keeping of not use it: one will not hear them that are for them. episcopacy, and another will not hear them that 5. You do even forbid all others to pity you, are against it. And thus I might show you in when you will have no pity on yourselves: if many other cases, how you turn all that comes you cry to God, for inercy, in the day of your near you to your own destruction ; so clear is it, calamity, what can you expect but that he should that the ungodly are self-destroyers, and that thrust you away, and say, nay, thou wouldst their perdition is of themselves. Methinks now, not have mercy on thyself; who brought this upon the consideration of what is said, and the upon thee but thy own wilfulness? And if review of your own ways, you should bethink your brethren see you for ever in misery, how you what you have done, be ashamed, and should they pity you, that were your own dedeeply humbled, to remember it. If you be not, stroyers, and would not be persuaded. I pray you consider these following truths. 6. It will for ever make you your own tor
1. To be your own destroyers, is to sin against mentors in hell, to think on it, that you brought the deepest principle in your natures, even the yourselves wilfully to that misery. Oh, what an principle of self-preservation ; every thing natu- agonizing thought it will be for ever, to think rally desires or inclines to its own felicity, wel. with yourselves that this was your own doing ; fare, or perfection? And will you set your that you were warned of this day, and warned selves to your own destruction? When you are again, but it would not do ; that you wilfully commanded to love your neighbours as your sinned and turned from God; that you had selves, it is supposed that you naturally love time as well as others, but you abused it. You yourselves ; but if you love your neighbours no had teachers as well as others, but you refused better than yourselves, it seems you would have their instruction ; you had holy examples, but all the world to be damned.
you did not imitate them; you were offered 2. How extremely do you cross your own in- Christ, grace, and glory as well as others, but tentions ! I know you intend not your own dam- you had more mind to fleshly pleasures; you nation, even when you are procuring it; you had a prize in your hands, but had not a heart to think you are but doing good to yourselves by lay it out. Can it choose but torment you, to think of this your present folly? Oh, that your There is no carrying madmen to heaven in eyes were opened to see what you have done in fetters. You may be condemned against your the wilful wronging of your own souls! And wills, because you sinned with your
but that you
better understood those words of God, you cannot be saved against your wills. The "hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not: wisdom of God hath thought meet to lay man's blessed is the man that heareth me, watching salvation or destruction very much upon the daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my choice of their own wills: that no man shall come doors; for whoso findeth me, findeth life, and to heaven that chose not the way to heaven; and shall obtain favour of the Lord; but he that sin- no man shall come to hell, but shall be forced to neth against me, wrongeth his own soul; and they say, I have the thing I chose, my own will did that hate me, love death.'
bring me hither. Now if I could but get you to Now I am come to the conclusion of this work, be willing, to be thoroughly, resolvedly, and my heart is troubled to think how I shall leave habitually willing, the work were more than half you, lest after this the flesh should deceive you, done. Alas, must we lose our friends, and must and the world and the devil should keep you they lose their God, their happiness, their souls, asleep, and I should leave you as I found you, for want of this? O God forbid! It is a strange till you awake in hell. Though in care of your thing to me, that men are so inhuman and stupid poor souls, I am afraid of this, as knowing the in the greatest matters, that in lesser things are obstinacy of a carnal heart; yet I can say with very civil and courteous, and good neighbours. the prophet Jeremiah, 'I have not desired the For ought I know, I have the love of all, or woful day, the Lord knoweth. I have not with almost all, my neighbours, so far, that if I should James and John, desired that fire might come send to every man in the town, parish, oi down from heaven, to consume them that refused country, and request a reasonable courtesy of Jesus Christ. But it is the preventing of the them, they will grant it me; and yet when I come eternal fire that I have been all this while en- to request of them the greatest matter in the deavouring: and 0, that it had been a needless world, for themselves, and not for me, I can have work! That God and conscience might have nothing of many of them, but a patient hearing, been as willing to spare me this labour, as some I know not whether people think a man in the of you could have been. But dear friends, I am pulpit is in good earnest or not, and means as so loth you should lie in everlasting fire, and be he speaks. For I think I have few neighbours, shut out of heaven, if it be possible to prevent it, but if I were sitting familiarly with them, and that I shall once more ask you, what do you telling them of what I have seen or done, or known now resolve ? Will you turn, or die? I look in the world, they would believe me, and regard upon you as a physician on his patient, in a what I say; but when I tell them from the indangerous disease, that saith unto him, though fallible word of God, what they themselves shall you are so far gone, take but this medicine, see and know in the world to come, they show forbear but these few things that are so hurtful by their lives that they do either not believe it, to you, and I dare warrant your life; but if you or not much regard it. If I meet anyone will not do this, you are a dead man. What of them on the way, and told them, yonder is a would you think of such a man, if the physician coal pit, or there is a quick-sand, or there are and all the friends he hath, cannot persuade him thieves lay in wait for you, I could persuade them to take one medicine to save his life, or to for- to turn by. But when I tell them that Satan bear one or two poisonous things that would kill lies in wait for them, and that sin is poison to him? This is your case. As far as you are them, and that hell is not a matter to be jested gone in sin, do but now turn and come to Christ, with, they go on as if they did not hear me. take his remedies, and your souls shall live. Truly neighbours, I am in as good earnest with Cast up your deadly sins by repentance, and re- you in the pulpit, as I am in any familiar disturn not to your poisonous vomit any more, and course, and if ever you will regard me, I beseech you shall do well. But yet if it were your bodies, you let it be here. I think there is not a man that we had to deal with, we might partly know of you all, but if my own soul fay at your wills, what to do for you. Though you would not con- you would be willing to save it; though I cansent, you might be held or bound, while the not promise that you would leave your sins medicine was poured down your throats, and for it. hurtful things might be kept from you. But Tell me, thou drunkard, art thou so cruel to about
your souls it cannot be so; we cannot con- me that speaks to thee, that thou wouldst not vert you against your wills.
forbear a few cups of drink, if thou knewest it