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And what pity is it that so much should be lost? Alas, to see many of our hearers touched at a sermon, and come to a minister and bewail their sin, and seem to be humbled, and promise to be new men, and yet all this to be lost; how sad a case is this to think of? To see them leave their company and former course of life, and come among the professors of holiness, and all men take them for real converts; and yet all this to be lost, and their souls lost after all: how sad a case is this! If you grow up to the greatest parts for out. ward duty, and be able to discourse, or pray, or preach, even to the admiration of the hearers; yet if you do not ground this on a thorough conversion, all is but lost, as to your own salvation. If you keep up the highest strain of profession, and get the highest esteem in the church, so that others depend on you as oracles; yea, if the pope with all his infallibility should canonize you for saints; it were all but loss. If you should keep up the most confident persuasion of your salvation, and hope to go to heaven, to the last hour of your lives; it were all but lost if you build not all on a thorough conversion. Yea, if you should be taken by persecutors for one of the party to which you join, and should suffer for the cause of religion among them; all were but lost, without a sound conversion; 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.

It is a pitiful case to see some poor unsanctified souls, how they wander and change from one opinion to another, and from party to party, to find out that which they want within. They turn to this party first, and that party next, and then to another, and then think they are sure in the way to heaven, when they never thoroughly turned to God by Jesus Christ; and therefore are certainly out of the way, whatever party it be that they join with. Some go to the giddy sects that make the highest pretences to strictness : and some go to Rome, because they think that there they shall have more company, and hear the deluding sound of unity, universality, antiquity, succession, miracles, and such like: and then they think they have hit the way. Alas, poor souls! If God were but nearest and dearest to your hearts, and Christ and his righteousness exalted within you,

and your souls unfeignedly turned from your sins, you would be in the certain way to heaven, in what country, or company, or church soever you were ; supposing that you believe and do nothing there, which is inconsistent with this life of grace.

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(Though yet every Christian should choose that particular society, if he can, where he may not only be saved, but most certainly saved, and find the greatest helps, and least hindrances, or else where he may do God the greatest service.) But choose what company you will in the world, the strictest, the most reformed, the most splendid in outward pomp and glory, or of whatever excellency else you may imagine, you

will never be saved in it yourselves, as long as your hearts are unconverted. I know the Papists have found out many devices, by sacraments, and ceremonies, and the merits of the saints, to patch up the defect of a thorough conversion; but all are mere delusions that pretend to such a thing.

O then think of this, poor sinner: hast thou gone so far, and done so much, and shall all be lost because thou wilt not follow it to the end? Hast thou groaned, and wept, and confessed, and bemoaned thine own condition? Hast thou prayed, and read, and heard, and fasted, and changed thy company, and much of thy course of life? And shall all this be lost, for want of going to the bottom, and making a thorough work of it? What a loss will this be?

5. Consider also, What an admirable help and advantage it will be to you through the whole course of your lives, if the work of conversion be once thoroughly wrought. I will shew you this in some particulars.

(1.) It will be an excellent help to your understandings, against the grosser errors of the world, and will establish you

in the truth much more than mere arguments can do ; for you will be able to speak for the truth from feeling and experience: he that hath the law written both in his Bible and in his heart, is likely to hold it faster than he that hath it in his Bible alone. But of this I have spoken already in my " Treatise against Infidelity," Part ii.

(2.) If you be but thoroughly converted, you will have that within you which will be a continual help against temptations: you have not only experience of the mischief of sinning, and the folly of those reasons that are brought for its defence; but you have also a new nature, which is against the temptation, as life is against poison: and as it is a great disadvantage to the law of Christ, that it speaks against the nature of the ungodly; so is it a disadvantage to the temptations of the devil, that they would draw a Christian against

his new nature. You have that within you that will plead more effectually against sensuality, uncharitableness, pride or worldliness, or any the like sin, than learning or reason alone can do. (As in the forecited book I have further manifested.)

(3.) If conversion be thoroughly wrought, you will have within you a continual helper of your graces, and a remembrancer to put you in mind of duty, and a spur to put you on to the performance, and a furtherer of your souls in the performance itself: it is out of this spark and principle within you, that the Holy Ghost doth raise the acts of grace. This is it that the word, and prayer, and conference, and sacraments, and all the means of grace must work upon. If we see you do amiss, we have hopes that you will hear us; if we plainly reprove you, we may look you should take it in good part: for you have that within you that saith as we say, and is at deadly enmity with the sin which we reprove. If we provoke you to love and to good works, we dare almost promise ourselves that you will obey; for you have that within you that disposeth you to the duty, and preacheth our sermons to you over again. O what an advantage it is to our teaching, when you are all taught of God within, as well as by his messengers without! But when we speak to the unconverted, we have little to work upon: we give physic to the dead; we speak all against the bent of their souls; and every reproof and exhortation to holiness goes against their very natures; and therefore what wonder if we have the smaller hopes to prevail ?

(4.) If the work be thoroughly done at first, it will help to resolve many doubts that may be afterwards cast into your minds: you need not be still at a loss and looking behind you, and questioning your foundation, but may go cheerfully and boldly on.

O what an excellent encouragement is this! to know that you have hitherto made good your ground, and left all safe and sure behind you, and have nothing to do but to look before you; and press on towards the mark till you lay hold upon the prize : whereas if you be in any great doubt of your conversion, it will be stopping you and discouraging you in all your work; you will be still looking behind you, and saying, 'What if I should yet be unconverted ?' when you should cheerfully address yourselves to prayer or sacraments, how sadly will you go, as be

ing utterly uncertain whether you have a saving right to them; or whether God will accept a sacrifice at your hand ? When you should grow and go forward, you will have little heart to it, because you know not whether you are yet in the way; and this will damp your life and comfort in every duty, when you must say, 'I know not whether yet I be thoroughly converted.' O. therefore stop not the work at first.

(5.) And lastly, If the work be thoroughly done at first you will persevere, when others fall away. You will have rooting in yourselves, entertaining the seed as into depth of earth; and you will have the Holy Ghost within you, and (more than so) engaged for your preservation, and the perfecting of your salvation; when they that received the word as seed upon a rock, and never give it deep entertainment, will wither and fall away in the time of trial; and from them that have not saving grace, shall be taken away, even that which they seemed to have; Matt. xiii. 12. xxv. 19.

6. And lastly, Consider, If you fall short of a true conversion at the first, the devil will take occasion by it, to tempt you at last to utter despair. When you have made many essays and trials, and been about the work again and again, he will persuade you that there is no possibility of accomplishing it. If we convince an open profane person that is unconverted, he may easier see that yet there is hopes of it, but if a man have been half-converted, and lived long in a formal, self-deceiving profession of religion, and been taken by himself and others for a godly man, as it is very hard to convince this man that he is unconverted, so when he is convinced of it, he will easily fall into desperation. For satan will tell him, 'If thou be yet unconverted after so many confessions and prayers, and after so long a course of religion, whạt hope canst thou have that it should yet be done? Thou wilt never have better opportunities than thou hast had. If such sermons as thou hast heard could not do it, what hope is there of it? If such books, and such company, and such mercies and such afflictions have not done it, what hope canst thou have? Canst thou hear any livelier teaching than thou hast heard; or speak any holier words than thou hast spoken? If yet the work be quite undone, it is not forsaking another sin, nor going a step further that will do it; and therefore never think of it, for there is no hope: dost thou not know how oft thou hast tried in vain? and what

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canst thou do more? And thus you give advantage to the tempter by your first delays, and taking up in mere preparatories. And therefore I beseech you as you love your souls, take heed of resisting the Spirit of grace, and breaking off the work before it is thoroughly done, but go to the bottom, and follow it on, till it be accomplished in sincerity. And now hoping that upon these considerations you are resolved to do your best, I shall come to the thing which I principally intended; which is to give you certain Directions, which if you will obey, you may be converts and saints indeed.

Direct. I. Lest the work of conversion should miscarry where it seemeth to be begun, or in a hopeful way, I first advise you, 'To labour after a right understanding of the true nature of Christianity, and the meaning of the Gospel which is sent for to convert you. You are naturally slaves to the prince of darkness; and live in a state of darkness, and do the works of darkness, and are hasting apace to utter darkness. And it is the light of saving knowledge that must recover you, or there is no recovery. God is the Father of Light, and dwelleth in light; Christ is the light of the world ; his ministers also are the lights of the world, as under him; and are sent to turn men from darkness to light, by the Gospel which is the light to our feet: and this is to make us children of light, that we may no more do the works of darkness, but may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. 1 Johni. 5. 9. James i. 17. Matt. v. 14. Acts xxvi. 18. John viii. 12. 2 Pet. i. 19. Eph. v. 8. 13. Col. i. 12. Believe it, darkness is not the way to the celestial glory. Ignorance is your disease, and knowledge must be your cure. I know the ignorant have many excuses, and are apt to think that the case is not so bad with them as we make it to be; and that there is no such need of knowledge, but a man may be saved without it. But this is because they want that knowledge that should shew them the misery of their ignorance and the worth of knowledge. Hath not the Scripture plainly told you, that If the Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, whose minds the God of this world hath blinded, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them; 2 Cor. iii. 4. I know that many that have much knowledge are ungodly; but what of that? Can any man therefore be godly or be saved, without know-,

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