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same.' If God afflict him by poverty, sickness, or other trials, he saith, “I did not become a Christian to escape affliction, but to "escape damnation. If he kill me, yet will I trust in him. Shall I receive good at the hands of God, and not evil? Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked must I return to dust. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away ; blessed be his name.' If oppressing enemies insult over him, he can say, as Mich. vii. 8,9." Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” If the wicked cast in his teeth his profession, and the name of his God, "He rejoiceth that he is counted worthy to suffer for that name;" and yet" he will hope to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the live ing.” And if he must go to heaven through poverty and a mean estate, “ he hath learned to want, as well as to abound; and in what estate soever he be, therewith to be contented.” And so in the work of conversion itself, for want of resolution, many stick long in the birth, and they are hanging so long between heaven and hell, that it is a wonder of mercy that God doth not cut them off, and let them perish. But the well-resolved soul doth deal more faithfully with the light that is revealed to him, and doth not stand struggling so long against it, nor hold Christ and his Spirit so long in hand; but is glad to make sure work in so great a business, and take so good a match while it is offered. And being engaged once, he is firm as Mount Sion, that cannot be moved. Resolve, therefore, that your work may be the more easy and successful, and conquer by resolving
18. I suppose you dare not resolve against conversion, and a heavenly life; and why then will you not resolve for it? What purpose you to do for the time to come? Is it your resolution to live and die as you are? Have you not purposes in your mind to repent hereafter? Dare you say, • I am resolved never to be converted ? Some
may desperate ; but I think it is but few, even of the ungodly. Why, this shews that there is a secret conviction in your consciences. O do not stifle it. Neutrality never saved a
soul. Seeing you dare not resolve against it, resolve for it.
19. Consider, I beseech you, how much it doth concern yourselves, to have this question well and speedily resolved. God asked you, Whether you will be converted and sanctified or not ? Resolve this question, and you resolve yourselves of a great many more that depend upon it,
The answer to this must be the answer to the rest. If the question were, Whether you will be pardoned or no? Whether you will live in heaven or hell for ever? Whether you will dwell with God and angels, or with devils ? You would not be long in answering this. You would resolve without an hour's delay. Why, this is the question, sirs ! but the answer to it must be the answer to the first question. For without sanctification, there is no salvation. If you will not be converied, you shall be condemned, whether you will or no; for God hath resolved of this already, and there is no resisting the resolution of God. The true state of the question is, Whether you will turn or burn? Choose you whether, for it must be one, O, therefore, if you will but resolve Christ and up this one question, that you will be converted, Christ will resolve you the principal questions that concern you in the world: even whether you shall be pardoned or saved ; and where, and with whom you must
live for ever,
20. Lastly, consider, that if you stay till you receive the sentence of death, it is two to one but that will force you to resolve, But a forced resolution will not serve turn. And then it will be very hard for you to discern whether it be any better than merely from your fears. You put off all till sickness come, and you see once that you must die, there is no remedy; and then you will ery, O if the Lord would but recover me, and try me once again with life, I would delay no longer, but I would become a new man, and live a holy, heavenly life; I am resolved of it by the grace of God, Yea, but who knows whether these last resolutions be sincere, We hear abundance speak this in their sickness, that neyer turn when they come to health, but forget all, and live in a manner as they did before. Is it not most likely to be only the fear of death that makes you take up these resolutions? If it be so, they will never save you if you die, nor hold you to your promise if you live. For it is not bare suade you,
fear that is true conversion; but it is a changed heart, that is fallen in love with God and holiness, and into a settled hatred of former sins. No late repentance and resolutions but these, will be any thing worth as to the saving of your souls. And, therefore, if you will have true resolutions at the last (whieh is too rare) you cannot choose but be much in doubt of them, when you find so much of fear upon your spirit, and consider that you would never resolve till then. And, therefore, if you would have a comfortable change, resolve now in your prosperity, before the face of death affright you to it, and those fears, and the lateness do make you question the truth and soundness of it, and so deprive you of the comfort which you have so much need of at a dying hour. And thus I have given you twenty Considerations to per
you, if it may be, presently to resolve. I am sure there is truth, and reason, and weight in them; but what good they will do you, I am not sure, because I know not how you will receive them.
iv. And now I come to the last part of my task, which is to direct you how to perform the work that I have persuaded you to. But because it is merely the determination of the will, it is persuasion that must do more to the work than direction; and therefore I shall only desire you to look back upon the qualifications of sound resolution, which I before laid down to you, and then take heed of the hiņdrances in your way, and to set yourselves to do your duty.
Remember that I before told you, That it is not a holy, saving resolution, unless it be,
1. Entire for the matter of it, comprehending all that is essential to Christianity,
2. And unless you resolve upon present obedience without delay.
3. And also unless it be absolute and peremptory, taking Christ for better and worse, without any reserve,
4. And unless it be well-grounded.
5. And unless it be built on the strength of Christ, and not only a carnal confidence of your own.
6. And unless it be habitual and firm, and become your ordinary frame and bias, and, as it were, the new nature and inclination of your souls,
By this much you see already what manner of resolution it is that you must have.
The next thing is, to advise you of the hindrances that you may avoid them.
1. The principal hindrance of resolution is secret unbelief; when everlasting life is taken but as an uncertainty, or men have no more but a slight opinion of it.
The cure of this disease, I have often, and a little before delivered to you.
2. Another thing that hindereth resolution is inconsiderateness, of which also I have spoken purposely before.
3. Another hindrance is a sleepy insensibility, when the heart is hardened, and men are past feeling. We cannot tell how to awaken these men to be sensible of the things that should move them to resolve. Of this also I have spoken by itself.
4. Another great hindrance is the natural strangeness and averseness of the mind of corrupted men, to these high and spiritual things. So that we drive men by all our arguments against the bias of their sinful habits: and those habits plead against us more forcibly without a word of reason, than all the reason in the world could do. See, therefore, that you keep under changing means till your hearts be changed ; and the perusing of such weighty arguments as we offer you, may be of use to the changing of your hearts: for God useth to work on the will by the understanding; and therefore light hath an aptitude to change the will itself.
5. Moreover, the rooted interest of this world doth much hinder men from resolving to turn. It is always drawing them another way, or putting objections and cavils into their minds; and if they will needs resolve, it is this that secretly enticeth them to reserves, and to resign themselves to God but with conditions and exceptions ; and so makes them hypocrites, when they think themselves converts; and cheats them with a half-deceitful resolution, instead of one that is absolute and firm. Against this impediment also I have spoken before.
6. Another hindrance is, the nearness of fleshly, enticing objects. When the covetous man seeth his houses and lands, his goods and money, the very sight of them breaks the heart of all his better resolutions. The drunkard seems to be resolved, till he sees the cup, and then his resolution is broken. The whoremonger seemeth to be resolved, till the bait is brought near him, and then he goes as
an ox to the slaughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocks.” Certainly if these resolutions were sound, they would either cause men to fly from the bait, and not come near it, or else to refuse it when it is presented them. In the course of their lives, their resolution would govern them if they were sincere.
7. And satan himself will do all that he can to hinder you when he sees you ready to resolve. He knows that he must bestir him now or never. You never put him to it indeed till you are resolving to forsake him. One block or other he will be sure then to cast in your way: either he tells you, it is but folly and melancholy to trouble yourself with these matters; or that you may be saved without all this ado; or that God is more merciful than to cast away all that be not sanctified; or that godliness doth but trouble and distract people, and that the professors of it are secretly no better than others, and that it is but hypocrisy for them to make such a stir with religion, and that we must be moderate in our godliness, and take heed of being godly overmuch. A hundred such foolish suggestions as these, the devil hath at hand to cast in your way, when he seeth you ready to resolve.
If these will not serve, he will set some of his wicked disciples on railing or deriding you; and perhaps some cunning fool a cavilling with you, to see if they can overwit you, and draw you back.
If that will not do, perhaps he will open the falls of professors to you, and labour to persuade you that all are such: or he will shew.you what divisions and differences are among them ; or he will take advantage of some difficulties in religion, or some controversies in which he sees you already engaged to a party; or he will tell you of some false doctrine that some forward professors may be tainted with, to make them, and consequently godliness itself, more odious, or at least suspected to you. If all this will not do, he will endeavour to set your very parents or natural kindred against you, that those that should most promote your salvation, and on whom your livelihood much dependeth, shall become your enemies, and hate you for offering to give up yourselves to Christ. If that will not do, he will endeavour, to