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Almighty! Are men herein distinguished from the very brutes, that they have no foresight of and care to provide for the things to come: And will you not haiten your escape from eternal torments? O! Shew yourselves men, and let reason prevail with you: Is it a reasonable thing for you to “ contend
against the Lord your Maker!” Ija. xlv. 9. or " to harden yourselves against his word,” Job ix. 4.; as though “ the strength of Israel would lie?" i Sam. XV. 29.
Is it reasonable that an under, ftanding creature should lose, yea live quite againtt the very end of his being, and be as a broken pitcher, only fit for the dunghill? Is it reasonable That the only thing in this world that God hath made capable of knowing his will, and bringing him glory, should yet live in ignorance of his Maker, and be unserviceable to his use? yea, should be engaged against him, and spit bis venom in the face of his Creator! “ Hear, o heavens, and give ear, • O earth!” and let the creatures without sense be judge if this be reason, that man, whom God hath
nourished and brought up, Mould rebel against “ him?" Ifa. i. 2. Judge in your own selves: 15 at a reasonable undertaking for briers and thorns to set themseives in battle against the devouring fire? Ija. xxvii. 4.; or for “ the potsherd of the earth to * strive with its maker;" You will say, This is not reason, or surely the eye of reason is quite put out : And if this be not reason, then there is no season that you should continue as you are, but it is all the reason in the world you should forthwith gurn and repent.
What shall I say? I could spend myself in this argument.
O that you would but hcarken to me!
That you would presently set upon a new course! Will you not be made clean! When shall it once be? What! will nobody be persuaded ? Reader, hall I prevail with thee for one? Wilt thou fit down and consider the forementioned argument, and deþate it, whether it be not beft to turn: Come, and and let us reasop together : Is it good for thee to be here? Wilt thou fit till the tide come in upon thee? Is it good for thee to try whether God will be so good as his word, and to harden thyself in a conceit that all is well with thee, while thou remainest uníanctified.
But I know you will not be persuaded, but the greatest part will be as they have been, and do as they have done. I know the drunkard will turn to his vomit again, and the deceiver to his deceit again, and the lustful wanton to his dalliance again, Alas! that I must leave you where you were, in ignorance or looseness, or in your lifeless formality and customary devotions! However, I will fit down and bemoan my fruitless labours, and spend some fighs over my perishing hearers.
O distracted finners! What will their end bes what will they do in the day of visitation? “Whi. “ther will they flee for help? Where will they “ leave their glory?" Ifa. x. 3. How powerfully hath fin bewitched them How effectually hath the god of this world blinded them? How strong is the delusion? How uncircumcised their ears! How obdurate their hearts?
Satan hath them at his beck. But how long may I call and can get no answer? I may dispute with them year after year, and they will give me the hearing and that is all? they must and will have their fins, fay
what I will ? though I tell them there is death in the cup, yet they will take it up; though I tell them it is the broad way, and endeth in destruction, yet they will go on in it; I warn them, yet cannot win them. Sometimes I think the mercies of God will melt them, and his winning inyitations will overcome them; but I find them as they were: Sometimes that the terror of the Lord will persuade them; yet neither will this do it. They will approve the word like the sermon, commend the preacher, but they will yet live as they did. They will not deny me, and yet they will not obey me. They will flock to the word of God, and fit before me as his people, and hear my words, but they will not do them. They value and will plead for ministers, and I am to them as the lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, yet I cannot get them to come under Christ's yoke. They love me, and will be ready to say they will do any thing for me: but, for my life, I cannot persuade them to leave their sins, to forego their evil company, their intemperance, their unjust gains, &c. I cannot prevail with them to fet up prayer in their families and closets, yet they will promise me, like the froward fon, that said, “ I will go, Sir, but went not,' Mat. xxi. 30. I cannot persuade them to learn the principles of religion, though else « they would “ die without knowledge," job xxxvi. 12. I tell them their misery, but they will not believe but it is well enough: If I tell them particularly I fear, for such realons, their estate is bad, they will judge me censorious; or, if they be at present a little awakened, are quickly lulled asleep by Satan again, and have lost the sense of all.
Alas, for my poor hearers! must they perish at last by hundreds,' when ministers would lo fain save them? What course Mall I use with them, that I have not tried : “ What shall I do for the “ daughter of my people?” Jer. ix. 7. “O Lord “ God, help. Alas! shall I leave them thus? If " they will not hear me, yet do thou hear me: 0
that they may yet live in thy sight! Lord save “ them, or else they perish. My heart would melt
to see their houses on fire about their ears, when they were fast alleep in their beds; and shall not
my soul be moved within me to see them falling « into endless perdition ! Lord, have compaflion, " and save them out of the burning; put forth thy
divine power, and the work will be done; but as “ for me, I cannot prevail.”
Shewing the MARKS of the UNCONVERTED.
little fruit to be expected, it is the hand, fight that doth execution, David is not awakened by the prophet's hovering at a distance in parabolical insinuations; he is forced to close with him, and tell him plainly, os thou art the man.' Few will in words deny the neceffity of the new birth, but they have a self-deluding confidence that the work is not now to do. And because they know themselves free from that gross hypocrity which takes up religion merely for a colour to deceive others, and for covering of wicked designs, they are confident of their fincerity, and suspect not that more
close hypocrisy' (wherein the greatest danger lies) by which a man deceiveth his own soul, James i. 26. But man's deceitful heart is such a matchless cheat and self-delusion, fo reigning and so fatal a dircafe, that I know not whether be the greater, the difficulty, disagreeableness, or the necessity of the undeceiving work that I am now upon. Alas, for my unconverted hearers! They must be undeceived or undone. But how shall this be effected?
“ Help, O all-searching Light! and let thy
discerning eye discover the rotten foundation of “ the self-deceiver; and lead me, O Lord God, “ as thou didft the prophet, into the chambers of “ imagery, and dig through the wall of finners “ hearts, and discover the hidden abominations " that are lurking out of fight in the dark. O “ send thy angel before me, to open the sundry « wards of their hearts, as thou did it before Peter, • and make even the iron gates to fly open of “ their own accord. And, as Jonathan no sooner • tasted the honey but his eyes were enlightened ; “ fo grant, O Lord, that when the
poor deceived “ fouls, with whom I have to do, shall cast their
eyes upon these lines, their minds may be illu“ minated, and their consciences convinced and " awakened, that they may see with their eyes, " and hear with their ears, and be converted, and “ that thou mayest heal them."
This must be premised before we proceed to the discovery, that it is most certain men may have a confident persuasion that their hearts and states be good, and yet be unsound. : Hear the truth himfelf, who Thews in Laodicea's case, that men may