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nation. You have made God your enemy, that should have been your only felicity: and yet you are always at his mercy, and in his hands. Little do you know how long his patience will yet endure to you; or what hour he will call away your souls: and if death come, alas, what a case will it find you in! How lamentably unready are you to meet him! How unready to appear before the dreadful God whom you have offended! and what a terrible appearance do you think that will be to you! Most certainly if you die before you are converted, you will not be from among the devils and damned souls an hour. The law hath cursed you already, and the execution will be answerable, if you die in your
And thus you may see the gain of sin, and what it is that you have been doing all this while for your own souls; and what a case it is that you have brought yourselves into ; and what need you have speedily to look about you.
5. The next step of your Consideration should be this; Bethink yourselves what a blessed condition you might be in, if by conversion you were but recovered from this misery, and brought home to God. This moved the heart of the prodigal son to return; Luke xv. 16, 17. "When he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger?" He that hath not husks to feed on with the swine, considered the plenty that he had forsaken at home. The poorest member of the household of Christ, is in a better condition than the greatest king on earth, that is unconverted. You might have lived another kind of life than you have done, for safety, and benefit, and true content, if you would have turned your minds and life to God. Were you but converted, you would be the living members of Christ, and his precious benefits would be yours; his blood would cleanse you from all your sins, and they would be all freely forgiven you; God would be reconciled to you, and become your friend, yea, your Father and your God; and will take you for his household servants, and adopted children: the Holy Ghost would dwell in you, and guide your understandings, and shew you that which flesh and blood cannot reveal, and bring you into acquaintance with the mysteries of God he will be a Spirit of light and life within you, and work your hearts yet more to God, and give you yet stronger inclinations and affections to the things above. He will
help you when you are weak, and quicken you where you are dull, and be your remembrancer when you are forgetful of necessary things: he will help you in prayer, both for matter and for manner, and help you in meditation and conference, and other duties: he will warn you of your danger, and strengthen you against temptations, and cause you to overcome; and if you fall, he will cause you to rise again : he will be an indwelling comforter to you, and so effectually speak peace to you in the midst of your disquietness, that by speaking it, he will create it in you and in the multitude of your thoughts within you, his comforts will delight your souls. O what a life might you live, if Christ by his Spirit did once live in you! You may easily conjecture how tender Christ would be of his own members, how dearly he would love them, how constantly he would watch over them, how plentifully he would provide for them, and how safely he would preserve them. And if you should come into a rougher way, he would lead you out: afflictions should never be laid on you but for your good; and continue no longer than your need continueth them, and be taken off at last to your satisfaction and contentment. Indeed your life would be a life of mercies; and that which is but a common mercy to common men would be a special mercy to you, as coming from your Father's love, and furthering your salvation, and hinting out to you your everlasting mercies. You could not open your eyes, but you would see that which may encourage and comfort you; all the works of God which you behold, would shew you his majesty, his love, and power, and lead you to himself. You could not open your Bible, but you would find in it the blessed lines of love: O what good it would do you, to read there the blessed attributes of your God! to look upon his name! to peruse the description of his most perfect nature! What good would it do you to read of the nature, and incarnation, and life, and death, and resurrection, and ascension, and intercession, and return of your blessed Redeemer? What good would it do you to find those holy rules which your new nature is agreeable to, and to read over the law that is written in your hearts, and read the curse from which you are delivered? What life and joy would your souls receive from the many, and full, and free promises of grace! Were you once but truly sanctified and made new, your condition would be
often comfortable, but always safe; and when you were in the greatest fears and perplexities, you would still be fast in the arms of Christ: and what a life would that be, to have daily access to God in prayer; to have leave in all your wants and danger, to seek to him with a promise of hearing and success; that you may be sure of much more from him, than a child can from the tenderest father, or a wife from the most loving husband upon the earth. What a life would it be, when you may always think on God as your felicity, and fetch your highest delights from him, from whom the ungodly have their greatest terrors? And it is no contemptible part of your benefits that you may live among his people, and in their special love, and have a special communion with them, and interest in their prayers, and may possess among them the privileges of the saints and the ordinances of God: that instead of idle talk, and the unprofitable fellowship of the children and works of darkness, you may join with the church of God in his praises, and feed with them at his table, on the body and blood of Christ, and then have conveyances of renewed grace and a renewed pardon sealed to your souls; but how long should I stay, if I should tell you but one half of the blessing of a sanctified and spiritual state? In a word, God would be yours, Christ would be yours, the Holy Ghost would be yours, all things would be yours; the whole world would have some relation to your welfare; devils would be subdued to you, and cast out of your souls; sin would be both pardoned and overcome; angels would be ministering spirits unto you for your good; the promises of Scripture would be yours; and everlasting glory would at last be yours; and while you staid on earth, you might comfort yourselves as oft as you would, with the believing foresight of that inconceivable, unspeakable, endless felicity.
O sirs, what a treasure have I here expressed in a few words! What hearts would you have if you were but possessed, lively and sensible of all that is contained in this leaf or two! You would not envy the greatest prince on earth his glory, nor change states with any man that was a stranger to these things. Did you but use to consider of the state of the saints; how could you keep off, and stay with sin, and make so many delays in turning unto God! Sure this consideration might turn the scales.
6. The next part of your meditation should be, Of the gracious and wonderful work of our redemption, and the means and remedies which are provided for your souls, and the terms on which salvation may be obtained.
For all the sins that you have committed, you are not given over to despair; the Lord hath not left you without a remedy: your conversion and salvation is not a thing impossible. Nay, so much is done by Christ already, that it is brought upon reasonable terms even to your hands. A new and living way is consecrated for us by Christ through the veil of his flesh, and by his blood we may have boldness to enter into the holiest; Heb. x. 19, 20. He hath borne your burden; and offereth you instead of it his burden, which is light; Matt. xi. 28. He hath removed the impossibility and nailed to his cross the hand writing that was against you; Col. ii. 14, 15. And instead of it offereth you his easy yoke. He hath spoiled the principalities and powers that had captivated you, and openly triumphed over them on the cross. You are not left under the care of making satisfaction to God for your own sins; but only of accepting the Redeemer that hath satisfied. This much I dare confidently say to you all, without extending his benefits too far. It would be for want of faith in you, and not for want of satisfaction by the Redeemer, if any of you perish. And how free are his offers! How full are his promises! You are conditionally all pardoned and justified already, as is legible under the hand of God. And the condition which is imposed on you is not some meritorious or mercenary work, but the accepting of the benefit freely given, according to its nature, use, and ends. This is the faith by which you must be justified. These are the terms on which you may be saved. And which is more, the Lord hath provided means, even excellent, and plentiful, and powerful means, for the furthering of your souls in the performance of this condition, and helping you to believe, and repent, that you may live : and if the Spirit make not these means effectual, and adjoin not his special grace, and after this you remain unconverted, it will not be long of him, but of yourselves. So that you may perceive how hopeful a case you are yet in, by the blood of your Redeemer. If you destroy not your own hopes, and make not your case desperate by wilful impenitency, and refusal of free grace, how fair are you yet for heaven! and
what happy advantages have you for salvation! brought even to your doors; it is thrust as it were into your hands; the Redeemer hath done so much for you all, as to bring your salvation to the choice of your own wills; and if you be his chosen ones, he will also make you willing. You have precepts to believe, you are threatened if you will not believe; you have promise upon promise, and Christ himself offereth you pardon, and life, and salvation with him, if you are but truly and heartily willing. You have God himself condescending to beseech you to accept them; and ambassadors entreating you in his name and stead; 2 Cor. v. 19, 20. You have ordinances fitted to your necessities; both reading, and preaching, and sacraments, and prayer. You have store of plain and powerful books; you have the godly about you, most desirous to assist you, that would be glad to see or hear of your conversion; you have the sight of the wicked, that are wallowing in their own dung, and the dirt of the world, to make you hate such beastly ways. You have reason and conscience within you to consider of these matters, and set them home, and apply them to yourselves; you have time and strength to do all this, if you will not abuse it, and provoke God to take it from you for your negligence. You have mercies of many sorts, outward and inward, to win upon you, and encourage you in the work. And sometimes afflictions to remember you, and awaken you, and spur you on; the devil and all your enemies are so far disabled, that they cannot destroy you against your wills, nor keep you from Christ, but by your own consents. The angels in heaven are ready to help you, and would even rejoice at your conversion. This is your case, and these are your helps, and encouragements, you are not shut up under desperation. God never told you, 'It is in vain to think of conversion; it is too late :' if any have told you so, it was the devil, and not God; and one would think that such considerations as these should drive the nail to the head, and be effectual to move you to resolve and turn.
7. The last thing that I would set before you to be considered, is, What is like to be the end of it, if after all this you should die unconverted.
O sirs, your hearts are not able now to conceive of it, nor the tongue of any mortal man to utter it. But so much of it we can certainly utter, as one would think should make