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would save my soul from hell? Hadst thou ra- your extremities, deny not his request now in ther I did burn there for ever, than thou shouldst the day of your prosperity. Believe it, death live soberly as other men do? If so, may I and judgment, heaven and hell, are other mat not say, thou art an unmerciful monster, and not ters when you come near them, than they seem a man? If I came hungry or naked to one of to carnal eyes afar off. Then you will hear such your doors, would you not part with more than a message as I bring you, with more awakened a cup of drink to relieve me? I am confident regardful hearts. you would : if it were to save my life, I know Well, though I cannot hope so well of all, I you would, some of you, hazard your own. And will hope that some of you are by this time puryet will not be intreated to part with your sen- posing to turn and live; and that you are ready sual pleasures for your own salvation ? Wouldst to ask me, as the Jews did Peter when they thou forbear an hundred cups of drink, to were pricked to their hearts, and said, “Men and save my life, if it were in thy power, and wilt brethren, what shall we do? How might we thou not do it to save thy own soul? I profess come to be truly converted ? We are willing, to you, I am as hearty a beggar with you this if we did but know our duty. God forbid, that day, for the saving of your souls, as I would be we should choose destruction, by refusing confor my own supply, if I were forced to come a version, as hitherto we have done.' begging to your doors. Therefore if
would If these be the thoughts and purposes of your hear me then, hear me now. If you would pity hearts I say of you, as God did of a promising me then, be entreated now to pity yourselves. I people, "They have well said all that they have do again beseech you, as if it were on my bended spoken; O that there was such an heart in them, knees, that you would hearken to your Redeem- that they would fear me, and keep all my comer, and turn, that you may live. All you that mandments always. Your purposes are good; have lived in ignorance and carelessness, and O that there were but hearts in you to perpresumption, to this day; all you that have been form these purposes! In hope thereof, I shall drowned in the cares of the world, and have no gladly give you directions what to do; and that mind of God and eternal glory: all you that but briefly, that you may the more easily rememare enslaved to your fleshly desires of meats and ber them for your practice. drinks, sports and lust: and all you that know Direction I. If you would be converted and not the necessity of holiness, and never were ac- saved, labour to understand the necessity and quainted with the sanctifying work of the Holy true nature of conversion; for what, from Ghost upon your souls; that never embraced what, to what, and by what it is, that you must your blessed Redeemer by a lively faith, with turn. admiring and thankful apprehensions of his love, Consider what a lamentable condition you are that never felt an higher estimation of God and in till the hour of your conversion, that you heaven, and a heartier love to them, than to your may see it is not a state to be rested in. You fleshly prosperity, and the things below: I ear- are under the guilt of all the sins that ever nestly beseech you, not only for my sake, but for you committed; under the wrath of God, and the Lord's sake, and for your soul's sake, that the curse of his law; you are bond-slaves to you go not on one day longer in your former the devil, and daily employed in his work against condition, but look about you and cry to God the Lord, yourselves and others. You are spiritfor converting grace, that you may be made new ually dead and deformed, as being void of the creatures, and may escape the plagues that are holy life, nature, and image of the Lord. You a little before you. If ever you will do any are unfit for any holy work, and do nothing that thing for me, grant me this request, to turn from is truly pleasing unto God. You are without your evil ways and live: deny me any thing any promise or assurance of his protection; and that ever I shall ask you for myself, if you will, live in continual danger of his justice, not knowbut grant me this. If you deny me this, I care ing what hour you may be sent to hell, and most not for any thing else that you would grant me. certain to be damned if you die in that condiNay, as ever you will do any thing at the request tion. Nothing short of conversion, can prevent of the Lord that made you, and redeemed you, it. Whatever civilities, amendments, or virtues deny him not this: for if you deny him this, he are short of true conversion, will never procure cares for nothing that you shall grant him. As the saving of your souls. Keep the true sense ever you would have him hear your prayers, and of this natural misery, and so of the necessity grant your requests, and do for you at the hour of conversion on your hearts. of death and day of judgment, or in any of Then you must understand what it is to
be converted; it is to have a new heart or dispo- which is more than to have a private felicity to sition and a new conversation.
yourselves. Quest. For what must we turn ?
4. Your glory will contribute to the glorifyAnsw. For these ends following, which you ing of your Redeemer, who will for ever be magmay attain. First, You shall immediately be nified and pleased in you that are the travail of made living members of Christ, have an interest his soul : and this is more than the glorifying of in him, be renewed after the image of God, be yourselves. adorned with all his graces, quickened with a 5. The eternal Majesty, the living God, will new and heavenly life, saved from the tyranny be glorified in your glory: both as he is magniof Satan and the dominion of sin, be justified fied by your praises, as he communicates of his from the curse of the law, have the pardon of glory and goodness to you, as he is pleased in all the sins of your whole lives, be accepted of you, and in the accomplishment of his glorious God, made his sons, have liberty with boldness works, in the glory of the new Jerusalem, and to call him Father, and go to him by prayer, in of his Son. all your needs, with a promise of acceptance ; All this, the poorest beggar of you that is conyou shall have the Holy Ghost to dwell in you, verted shall certainly and endlessly enjoy. to sanctify and guide you. You shall have part You see for what you must turn: next you in the brotherhood, communion and prayers of must understand from what you must turn : and the saints. You shall be fitted for God's service; that is, in a word, from your carnal self, which be freed from the dominion of sin, be useful and is the end of all the unconverted; from the a blessing to the place where you live, and shall flesh, that would be pleased before God, and have the promise of this life and that which is to would still be enticing you thereto; from the come.
You shall want nothing that is truly world that is the bait ; and from the devil, that good for you, and your necessary afflictions you is the angler for souls, and the deceiver ; and will be enabled to bear; you may have some
so from all known and wilful sins. taste of the communion of God in the spirit; Next you must know to what you must especially in all holy ordinances, where God pre- turn, and that is, to God as your end ; to Christ pares a feast for your souls; you shall be heirs as the way to the Father; to holiness as the of heaven while you live on earth, and may fore-way appointed you by Christ; and so to the use see, by faith, the everlasting glory, and so may of all the helps and means of grace offered you live and die in peace: you shall never be so low, by the Lord. but your peace and happiness will be incompara- Lastly, You must know by what you must bly greater than your misery.
turn. That is, by Christ as the only Redeemer, How precious is every one of these blessings, intercessor, and by the Holy Ghost as the Sancwhich I do but briefly name, and which in this tifier : by the word as his instrument or means : life you may receive!
and by faith and repentance, as the means and Then, Second, At death your souls shall go duties on your part to be performed. All this to Christ and at the day of judgment both soul is of necessity. and body shall be justified and glorified, and
Direction II. If you would be converted and Center into your Master's joy: where your hap- saved, be much in secret, serious consideration. piness will consist in these particulars :
Inconsiderateness undoes the world. Withdraw 1. You shall be perfected yourselves: your yourselves off into retired secrecy, and there mortal bodies shall be made immortal, and the bethink you of the end why you were made, of corruptible shall put on incorruption ; you shall the life you have lived, the time you have lost, no more be hungry, thirsty, weary, or sick: nor the sins you have committed ; of the love, sufshall you need to fear either shame, sorrow, ferings, and fulness of Christ; of the danger you death, or hell. Your souls shall be perfectly are in ; of the nearness of death and judgment; freed from sin, perfectly fitted for the knowledge, of the certainty and excellency of the joys of love, and praises of the Lord.
heaven; of the certainty and terror of the tor2. Your employment shall be to behold your ments of hell, and eternity of both ; of the neglorified Redeemer, with all your holy fellow- cessity of conversion, and a holy life ; bathe citizens of heaven: to see the glory of the most your hearts in such considerations as these. blessed God, to love him perfectly, be loved by Direction III. If you will be converted and him, and to praise him everlastingly.
saved, attend upon the word of God, which is the 3. Your glory will contribute to the glory of ordinary means. Read the scripture, or hear it the new Jernsalem, the city of the living God, read, and other holy writings that do apply it ; constantly attend upon the public preaching of did but know what continual danger you live in, the word. As God will lighten the world by the what daily unspeakable loss you sustain, and sun, and not by himself alone without it; so will what a safer and sweeter life you might live, you he convert and save men by his ministers, who would not stand trifling, but presently turn. are the lights of the world. When he hath mi- Multitudes miscarry that wilfully delay when raculously humbled Paul, he sends him to Ana- they are convinced that it must be done. Your nias. And when he hath sent an angel to Cor- | lives are short and uncertain ; and what a case nelius, it is but to bid him send for Peter, who are you in, if you die before you thoroughly must tell him what he is to believe and do.
turn ! You have staid too long already; and Direction IV. Betake yourselves to God, in a wronged God too long ; sin gets strength, and course of earnest, constant prayer. Confess and rooting; while you delay, your conversion will lament your former lives, and beg his grace to grow more hard and doubtful. You have much illuminate and convert you. Beseech him to to do, and therefore put not all off to the last, pardon what is past and give you his Spirit, lest God forsake you, and give you up to yourchange your hearts and lives, lead you in his selves, and then you are undone for ever. ways, and save you from temptation. Ply this Direction IX. If you will turn and live, do it work daily, and be not weary of it.
unreservedly, absolutely and universally. Think Direction V. Presently give over your known not to capitulate with Christ, and divide your and wilful sins, make a stand, and go that way heart between him and the world, to part with no farther: be drunk no more, but avoid the some sins, and keep the rest : and to let go that places and occasion of it; cast away your lusts which your flesh can spare. This is but selfand sinful pleasures with detestation ; curse, deluding: you must in heart and resolution forswear, and rail no more ; and if you have wronged sake all that you have, or else you cannot be his any, restore, as Zaccheus did. If you will com- disciples. If you will not take God and heaven mit again your old sins, what blessing can you for your portion, and lay all below at the feet of expect on the means for conversion ?
Christ, but you must needs also have your good Direction VI. Presently, if possible, change things here, have an earthly portion, and God your company,
if it hath hitherto been bad. Not and glory is not enough for you ; it is in vain by forsaking your necessary relations, but your to dream of salvation on these terms: for it will unnecessary sinful companions, and join your- not be. If you seem ever so religious, if yet it selves with those that fear the Lord, and inquire be but a carnal righteousness, and the flesh's of them the way to heaven.
prosperity, or pleasure, or safety, be still exDirection VII. Deliver up yourselves to the cepted in your devotedness to God; this is as Lord Jesus, as the physician of your souls, that certain a way to death, as open profaneness, he may pardon you by his blood, and sanctify you though it be more plausible. by his Spirit, by his word and ministers, the in- Direction X. If you will turn and live, do it struments of his Spirit. “He is the way, the resolvedly, and stand not still deliberating, as if truth, and the life ; there is no coming to the it were a doubtful case. Stand not wavering Father but by him.—Nor is there any other name as if you were yet uncertain whether God or under heaven, by which you can be saved. Study the flesh be the better master; whether heaven therefore his person, his nature, what he hath or hell be the better end; or whether sin or hodone and suffered for you, and what he is to liness be the better way: but away with your you; what he will be, and how he is fitted to the former lusts, and presently, habitually fixedly full supply of all your necessities.
resolve : be not one day of one mind, and the Direction VIII. If you mean indeed to turn next of another ; but be at a point with all the and live, do it speedily, without delay. If you be world, and resolvedly give up yourselves and not willing to turn to-day, you will not be wille all you have to God. Now while you are reading to do it at all. Remember you are all this ing or hearing this, resolve. Before you sleep while in your blood; under the guilt of many another night, resolve. Before you stir from the thousand sins, and under God's wrath, and you place, resolve. Before Satan hath time to take stand at the very brink of hell; there is but a step you off, resolve. You will never turn indeed between you
and death. This is not a case for till you resolve: and that with a firm unchangeable a man that is well in his judgment to be quiet resolution. So much for the direction. in. Up therefore presently and fly as for your Now I have done my part in this work, that lives : as you would be gone out of your house you may turn at the call of God and live. What if it were all on fire over your heads. O if you will become of it, I cannot tell. I have cast the
seed at God's command; but it is not in my of souls to prevail over thy Son, thy Spirit, and power to give the increase. I can go no farther thy word. O pity poor unconverted sinners; with my message, I cannot bring it to your hearts, that have no hearts to pity or help themselves : nor make it work; I cannot do your parts for command the blind to see, the deaf to hear, you to entertain it, and consider of it; nor I and the dead to live, and let not sin and death cannot do God's part, by opening your heart to be able to resist thee. Awaken the secure ; recause you to entertain it; nor can I show you solve the unresolved; confirm the wavering; heaven or hell to your eye-sight, nor give you let the eyes of sinners, who read these lines, be new and tender hearts. If I knew what more to next employed in weeping over their sins; and do for your conversion, I hope I should do it. bring them to themselves and to thy Son, before
But 0 thou that art the gracious Father of their sins have brought them to perdition. · If spirits, that hast sworn thou delightest not in the thou say but the word, these poor endeavours death of the wicked, but rather that they turn shall prosper, to the winning of many a soul to and live; deny not thy blessing to these persua- their everlasting joy, and thine everlasting glory. sions and directions, and suffer not thine enemies Amen. to triumph in thy sight, and the great deceiver
NOW OR NEVER;
THE BELIEVER JUSTIFIED AND DIRECTED,
OPPOSERS AND NEGLECTERS OF THE GOSPEL CONVINCED.
needs follow, that his errors are either pot conPREFACE.
tradictory to the things necessary which he holds It is a question more boldly than accurately and practises, or that he holds not those errors debated by many, whether a man may not be practically but notionally, as an opinion, or insaved in any religion, who is faithful to the prin- effectual cogitation in a dream, which provokes ciples of it by serious, diligent practice? The not to action; and in such a case the error keeps true solution is this : religion is that which men no man from salvation. hold and do to serve and please God. 1. If men What is necessary to be believed by them that make themselves a religion of serving idols or never hear the gospel, it so little concerns us to devils instead of God. 2. Or if they place their know, that God hath not thought meet to make service to God himself in things that are evil (as it so plain to us, as things that more concern our what evil is there that some men have not brought selves. But as it is certain, that without the atoneinto their religion, and fathered upon God?) the ment, satisfaction, and reconciliation made by more diligent such men are in their religion, the Christ, and without new terms of grace to be judgmore they sin. 3. Or if they make themselves a ed by, and without his grace for the performance religion of irrational, ludicrous ceremonies, their of their part, no man can be saved that hath the greatest diligence in this will not save them. 4. use of reason, so there is so much knowledge Or if they hold all the essentials of the true re- necessary to salvation, as is necessary to engage ligion, except some one, it cannot save them the heart to love God above all, and sincerely to while one thing is wanting which is essential to obey his revealed will, and to prefer the life to that religion, and so necessary to salvation, which come before the transitory pleasures of this life. is the case of real heretics : for they are not in-Now if any man can prove to me, that those deed of that religion, if they want that which is that never heard the gospel, can thus love God, essential to it. 5. Or if they hold all that is essen- and the life to come, and obey sincerely, without tial to the true religion only notionally, and hold the knowledge of the person, life, death, resurany thing with it practically which is contra-rection of Jesus Christ, and the declaration of dictory and inconsistent with it, the soundness the attractive love and goodness of God in him, of the notional belief will not save them from the and in the work of our redemption, then I should mortal poison of their practical heresy or error. believe that such negative infidels may be saved;
But, 1. Whosoever holds all that is necessary for God cannot damn a sanctified soul that sinto salvation, and is serious and diligent in living cerely loves him. But if the discovery of the according thereunto, shall be saved, whatever love of God in our redemption be so necessary error he holds with it. For if he be serious and a moral means to engage the heart, now cor. diligent in the practice of all things necessary to rupted by sin and creature-love to the true love salvation, he hath all that is necessary to salva- of God, that this love cannot be wrought without tion, viz. in belief and practice : and it must lit; or if Christ give not his Spirit to produce