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3d!y, « The free and resolved choice of the will « is determined for the ways of Christ, before all si the pleasures of fin, and prosperities of the world,” Psalm cxix. 103. 127. 162. His consent is not extorted by some extremity of anguish, nor is it only a sudden and hafty resolve, but he is deliberately purposed, and comes off freely to the choice, Pfal. xvii. 3. and cxix. 30. True, the flesh will rebel, yet the prevailing part of his will is for Christ's law and government, so that he takes them not up as his toil or burden, but his bliss, 1 John v. 3. Pfal. cxix. 65. 72. While the unfanctified go in Christ's ways as in chains and felters, he doth it naturally, Pfal. xl. 8. Jer. xxxi. 33.; and counts Christ's laws his liberty, Pjalm cxix. 32. 45. James i. 25. He is willing in the beauties of holiness, Psal. cx. 3. and hath this inseparable mark, “ That he had rather “ (if he might have his choicé) live a strict and
holy life, than the most prosperous and flouris.
ing life in the world, 1 Sam. x. 26. There went with Şaul a " band of men whose hearts God 6c had touched.” When God toucheth the hearts of his chosen, they presently follow Christ, Mat. iv. 22. and (though drawn) do freely run after him, Cant. i. 4. and willingly offer themselves to the service of the Lord, 2 Chron. xvii. 16. seeking him with their whole defire, chap. xv. 15. Fear hath its use; but this is not the main spring of motion with a sanctified heart. Christ keeps not his subjects in by force, but is King of a willing people. They are, through his grace, freely resolved for his service, and do it out of choice, not as slaves, but as the son or spouse, from a spring of love and
a loyal mind. In a word, the laws of Christ are the convert's love, Psalm cxix. 159. 163. 167. his desire, ver. 5. 20. 107.; his delight, ver. 77. 92. 103. 111. 143.; and continual itudy, ver. 97. 99. and Psal. i. 2.
4thly, " The bent of his course is directed to " keep God's statutes," P/al.cxix. 4. 8. 167. 168. It is the daily care of his life to walk with God, He seeks great things, he hath noble designs, tho' he falls too short. He aims at nothing less than perfection; he desires it, he reaches after it; he would not reft in any pitch of grace till he were quite rid of fin, and had perfected holiness, Phil. 111. 11. 14.
Here the hypocrite's rottenness may be disco, vered. He desires holiness, as one well faid, only as a bridge to heaven, and inquires earnestly what is the least that wilt serve his turn; and if he can
but so much as may bring him to heaven, this is all he cares for. But the sound convert defires holiness for holiness' fake, Pfal.cxix. 97. Mat. v. 6, and not only for heaven's sake. He would not be satisfied with as much as might save him from hell, but dcfires the highest pitch: Yet desires are not enough: What is thy way and thy courfe? Is the drift and scope of thy life altered? Is holiness thy trade, and religion thy business? Rom. v. iii. 1. Mar. xxv. 16. Phil. i. 20. If not, thou art short of found conversion.
APPLICATION. And is this that we have de-. scribed the conversion that is of absolute necellity to falvation? Then be informed, 1. That “ strait " is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth çi'unto life." 2. That there “ are but few that
“ find it.” 3. That there is need of a divine power savingly to convert a finner to Jesus Christ.
Again; Then be exhorted, O man, that readest, to turn in upon thine own self. What faith conscience? Doth it not begin to bite? Doth it not pain thee as thou goeft? Is this thy judgment, this thy choice, and this thy way, that we have described ? If so, then it is well. But doth not thy heart condemn thee, and tell thee there is such a sin thou liveft in, against thy conscience ? Doth it not tell thee, there is such and such a secret way of wickedness that thou art guilty of? such or such a duty that thou makeft no conscience of?
Doth not conscience carry thee to thy closet, and tell thee how feldom prayer and reading is performed there! Doth it not lead thee to thy family, and thew thee the charge of God, and the souls of thy children and servants that are neglected there? Doth not conscience carry thee to thy shop or thy trade, and tell thee of some mystery of iniquity there? Doth it not carry thee to thy places of entertain. ment, and remind thee of the company thou keepest there; the precious time thou mispendeft there; the talents thou wastest there? Doth it not lead thee into thy secret chamber, and discover to thee things that are hid from the eyes of man, and known only to God and thyself?
O conscience ! do thy duty: In the name of the living God, I command thee to discharge thy office. Lay hold upon this finner, fall upon him, arrest him, apprehend him, undeceive him. What! wilt thou flatter and soothe him while he lives in his fins! Awake! O conscience; what meane! thou,
o sleeper? What! Haft thou never a reproof in thy mouth? What! Shall this foul die in his careless neglect of God and eternity, and thou altogether hold thy peace? What! Shall he go on in his trespasses, and yet have peace? O rouse up thy. felf, and do thy work! Now let the preacher in thy bosom speak, cry aloud, and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet; Let not the blood of his soul be required at thy hands.
CH A P. III.
Of the Neceflity of CONVERSION. T may
you are ready to say, What meaneth this ftir? And are apt to wonder why I follow you with such earnestness, still ringing one lesson in your ears, that you should “ “ be converted,” AAs ii. 19. But I must say unto you as Ruth to Naomi, so Intreat me not to " leave you, nor to turn aside from following after you,
" Ruth i. 16. Were it a matter of indifferency, I would never make so much ado: Might you be saved as you be, I would gladly let you alone: But would you not have me solicitous for you, when I see you ready to perish? As the Lord liveth, before whom I am, I have not the least hopes to see one of your faces in heaven, except you be converted : I utterly despair of your falvation, except you will be prevailed with to turn thoroughly, and give up yourselves to God in holiness and newness of life.' Hath God said, “ Ex
cept you be born again, you cannot see the king“ dom of God," John iii. 3.; and yet do you
wonder why your minifters do fo plainly travail in birth with you? Think it not strange that I am earnest with you to follow after holiness, and long to see the image of God upon you : Never did any, nor shall any enter into heaven by any other
way. but this. The conversion described is not an high pitch of fome taller Christians, but every soul that is saved pafseth this universal change.
It was a passage of the noble Roman, when he was hasting with corn to the city in the famine, and the mariners were loth to set sail in foul weather, “ Our voyage is more necessary than our lives.” What is it that thou dost count necessary? Is thy bread necessary? Is thy breath necessary? Then thy conversion is much more necessary,
Indeed, this is the one thing necessary. Thine estate is not necessary; thou mayest fell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase, Mai. xüi. 46. Thy life is not necessary; thou mayett part with it for Christ to infinite advantage. Thine esteem is not necessary; thou mayest be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet be happy; yea,. much more happy in reproach than in repute, 1 Pet. iv, 14
Mat, v. I., II. But thy conversion is necessary, thy damnation lies upon it: And is it not needful, in so important a case, to look about thee? On this one point depends thy making or marring to all eternity.
But I Thall more particularly shew the necessity of conversion in five things; for without this,
Firsi, Thy being is in vain.” Is it not a pity that thou shouldest be good for nothing, an unprofitable burden of the earth, a wart or wen in