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reaching the ignorant, credulous, and unwary was thy sin when the love of gain tempted thee to it. You knew I had plainly told you that theft, uncleanness, drunkenness, and extortion would bar you out of the kingdom of Christ and of God, 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; and yet, putting that to the venture, you have lived in those sins; is it not so ? Examine the book in your own bosom, and see.” The Lord make men sensible of coming wrath for the sins they live in under light; for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against them.
Is the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness? Then let me exhort and persuade you by all the regard and love you have for your souls, by all the fears you have of the incensed wrath of the great and terrible God, that you forthwith set your convictions at liberty, and loose all the Lord's prisoners that lie bound within you: “Because there is wrath, beware.” Job 36:18. O stifle the voice of your conscience no more, slight not the softest whisper or least intimation of conscience; reverence and obey its voice. MOTIVES pressing and persuading this, are many; yet estimate them by weight rather than by number.
MOTIVE 1. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against them who hold the truth in unrighteousness; and because there is wrath, beware. Are you truly informed what the wrath of God is? “Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.” Psalm 90:11. , if the wrath of a king, who in all his glory is but a worm, be as the roaring of a lion, and as the messengers of death, Prov. 20:2; 16:14; what then is the power of His wrath, at whose frowns the kings of the earth tremble, and the captains and the mighty men shrink away? If the lesser executions of it by providence in this world be so dreadful that even good men have desired a hiding-place in the grave till it be past, Job 14:13; then what is the full execution thereof upon the ungodly in the place of torment? If the threats and denunciations of it against others made Habakkuk, though assured of personal safety, to quiver with his lips and tremble in his bowels, Hab. 3:16; how much more should those tremble and quiver who are to be the subject of it, and not the mere heralds of it as he was ? And, which is more than all, if Jesus Christ, who was to feel it but a few hours, and had the power of the Godhead to support him under it, did, notwithstanding, sweat as it were great drops of blood, and was sore amazed ; think with thyself, poor man, how shall thy heart endure, or thy hands be strong, when thou hast to do with an incensed God ?
MOTIVE 2. Till you set free your convictions, Satan will not let you go; he binds you while you bind them. Here is the command of God and the command of Satan in competition. Let my truths go free, which thou holdest in unrighteousness, says Jehovah ; bind and suppress them, says Satan, or they will deprive thee of the liberty and pleasure of thy life. While thou slightest the voice of God and conscience, dost thou not avowedly declare thyself the bondslave of Satan? “His servants ye are to whom ye obey." Rom. 6:16. Dare not to take one step further in the way of known sin, says conscience ; continue not at thy peril in such a dangerous state, after I have so clearly convinced and warned thee of it. Fear not, says Satan, if it be ill with thee, it will be as ill with millions. God will wound the heads of such as go on in their trespasses, says the Scripture. Psalm 68:21. Tush, others do so, and escape as well as the most scrupulous, says Satan. Now, I say, thy obedience to Satan's commands plainly declares thee, all this while, to be a poor enslaved captive to him, acted on and carried according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
MOTIVE 3. Until you obey your convictions, you are confederates with Satan in a desperate plot against your own
souls; you join with Christ's great and avowed enemy to dishonor him and destroy yourselves. Two things make you confederates with Satan against your own souls. First, your consent to this project for your damnation ; for so your own conscience out of the Scriptures informs you it is : consent makes you a party. Second, your concealment of this plot brings you in as a party with him. Confess thy sin, and bewail it, says conscience: not so, says pride and shame; how shall I look men in the face if I do so ? Do not you, in all this, believe Satan and make God a liar? Do not you act as men that hate their own souls, and love death? Prov. 8:36. O it is a dreadful thing for men to be accessory to their own eternal ruin, and that after fair warning and notice given them by their own conscience. Satan, be his power what it will, cannot destroy you without your own consent.
Motive 4. While you go on stifling convictions, and turning away your ears from calls to repentance, you cannot be pardoned; you are in your sins, and the guilt of them all lies at your door. You see what the terms of remission are : “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55:7. So again, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy.” Prov. 28:13. You see by these, and many more plain scripture testimonies, that there can be no hope of remission while you go on in this path of rebellion ; concealing, yea, and persisting in your known wickedness. There is a necessary and inseparable connection between repentance and remission, Acts 5:31, and Luke 24 : 47; and can you endure to have guilt your companion during life and for ever?
MOTIVE 5. You can never have peace with conscience while you keep convictions prisoners. A man’s conscience
is his best friend or his worst enemy; thence are the sweetest comforts, and thence are the bitterest sorrows. It is a dreadful thing for a man to lie with a cold sweating horror upon his panting bosom. And this, or which is worse, obduracy and stupidity must be the case of them who hold the truth in unrighteousness. There can be no sounding a retreat to these terrors till Sheba's head be thrown over the walls; I mean, till that sin which your conscience convinces you of, be delivered up. As Israel could have no peace till Achan was destroyed; so thou shalt have no peace while thy sin is covered and hid. Men may cry peace, peace, to themselves while they continue in sin, Deut. 29: 19, but the sharpest troubles of conscience are better than such peace. Deliver up thyself, if thou love peace, into the hands of thy own convictions, and thou art in the true way to peace. Thy rejoicing must be in the testimony of thy conscience, as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. 1:12, or thou rejoicest in a dream, in a delusion, in a thing of naught. - MOTIVE 6. What dreadful charges are you likely to meet with on your death-beds on account of the sins you have lived in, against knowledge and conviction. Conscience is never more active and vigorous than in the last hours and moments of life. Now it will be stifled and overruled no longer. It whispered before, but now it thunders. If a man has a clear and quiet conscience, his evening is clear and his sun sets without clouds : “The end of that man is peace.” Psalm 37:37. In contemplation of this felicity, Balaam uttered that wish, “ Let my last end be like his.” Num. 23:10. This peace is the result of a man's obedience to the voice of conscience, this being the evidence we can most safely rely upon of our interest in Christ ; but the result of such violations and abuses of thy conscience cannot be peace to thy soul. It is true, some wicked men die in seeming peace, and some good men in trouble, but both the one and the other are mistaken : the first, as to the good
estate he fancies himself in, and the other as to his bad estate; and a few moments will clear up the mistake of each. · MOTIVE 7. Obedience to conviction will not only produce peace at death, but will give you present ease and refreshment. No sooner did David resolve to obey the voice of conscience in confessing his sin, but he had ease in his spirit. Psa. 32:5. “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.” Isa. 32:17. On the contrary, you find wicked men have no rest in their conscience, Job 20:20 ; for guilt lies working there as a thorn in the flesh. And what is life worth without ease? To live ever in pain, to live upon the rack, is not to live. If, then, you love ease and quietness, obey your conscience; pull out that thorn—I mean, the sin that sticks fast in thy soul, and pains thy conscience. Who would endure so much anguish for all the flattering pleasures of sin?
MOTIVE 8. Convictions obeyed are the inlets to Christ and eternal salvation by him; they are the leading of the Spirit, in order to union with Christ. John 16:14. Till you obey and yield up yourselves to them, Christ is shut out of your souls; he knocks, but finds no entrance. At your peril, therefore, be obedient to their calls. While you parley with your convictions, and demur to their demands, Christ stands without, offering himself graciously to you, but is not admitted ; so that no less than your eternal happiness or misery depends on your obedience or disobedience to the calls of your convictions.
MOTIVE 9. Obey your convictions, honor their voice, and restrain them not; then shall your conscience give a fair testimony for you at the judgment-seat of Christ. You read of the answer of a good conscience toward God, 1 Pet. 3;21 ; than which nothing can be more comfortable. This gives a man boldness in the day of judgment. 1 John, 4:17