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The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul   by Philip Doddridge

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THE
RISE AND PROGRESS
of
RELIGION IN THE SOUL

ILLUSTRATED IN A COURSE OF
SERIOUS AND PRACTICAL ADDRESSES
SUITED TO PERSONS

Of every Character and Circumstance:

WITH A
DEVOUT MEDITATION, OR PRAYER,
SUBJOINED TO EACH CHAPTER

by Philip Doddridge, D. D.

PUBLISHED BY

THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,
150 NASSAU STREET NEW-YORK.
D. Faushaw, Printer.

PREFACE



Preface

THE several hints given in the first Chapter of this Treatise, which contains a particular plan of the design, render it unnecessary to introduce it with a long preface. My much honored friend, Dr. WATTS, had laid the scheme, especially of the former part. But as those indispositions with which God has been pleased to exercise him had forbid his hopes of being able. to add this to his many labors of love to immortal soul; he was pleased, in a very affectionate and importunate manner, to urge me to undertake it: And I bless God with my whole heart, not only that he hath carried me through this delightful task, (for such indeed I have found it) but also that he hath spared that worthy and amiable person to see it accomplished, and given him strength and spirit to review so considerable a part of it. His approbation, expressed in stronger terms than modesty will permit me to repeat, encourages me to hope that it is executed in such a manner as may, by the Divine blessing, render it of some general service. And I the rather hope it will be so, as it now comes abroad into the world, not only with my own prayers and his, but also with those of many other pious friends, which I have been particularly careful to engage for its success.

     Into whatever hands this work may come; I must desire that, before any pass their judgment upon it, they would please to read it through, that they may discern the connexion between one part of it and another; which I the rather request, because I have long observed that Christians of different parties have been eagerly laying hold on particular parts of the system of Divine truth, and have been contending about them, as if each had been all; or as if the separation of the members from each other, and from the head, were the preservation of the body, instead of its destruction. They have been zealous to espouse the defence, and to maintain the honor and usefulness of each apart whereas the honor, as well as the usefulness seems to me to lie much in their connection, and suspicions have often arisen betwixt the respective defenders of each, which have appeared as unreasonable and absurd as if all the preparations for securing one part of a ship in a storm were to be censured as a contrivance to sink the rest. I pray God to give to all his ministers and people more and more of the spirit of wisdom, and of love, and of a sound mind and to remove far from us those mutual jealousies and animosities which hinder our acting with that unanimity which is necessary in order to the successful carrying on of our common warfare against the enemies of Christianity. We may be sure these enemies will never fail to make their own advantage of our multiplied divisions and severe contests with each other. But they must necessarily lose both their ground and their influence, in proportion to the degree in which the energy of Christian principles is felt to unite and transform the heart of those by whom they are professed.

     I have studied in this Treatise the greatest plainness of speech, that the lowest of my readers may, if possible, be able to uinderstand every word; and I hope persons of a more elegant taste and refined education will pardon what appeared to me so necessary a piece of charity. Such a care in practical writings seems one important instance of that honoring all men, which our amiable and condescending religion teaches us; and I have been particularly obliged to my worthy patron for what he hath done to shortcn some of the sentences, and to put my meaning into plainer and more familiar words.

     I must add one remark here, which I heartily wish I had not omitted in the first edition, viz. That though I do in this book consider my reader as successively in a great variety of supposed circumstances, beginning with those of a thoughtless sinner, and leading thim through several stages of conviction, terror, &c. as what may be previous to his sincerely accepting the Gospel, and devoting himself to the service of God; yet I would by no means be thought to insinuate, that every one who is brought to that happy resolution, arrives at it through those particular steps, or feels agitations of mind equal in degree to those I have described. Some sense of sin, and some serious and humbling apprehension of our danger and misery in consequence of it, must indeed be necessary to dispose us to receive the grace of the Gospel, and the Saviour who is there exhibited to our faith. But God is pleased sometimes to begin the work of his grace in the heart almost from the first dawning of reason, and to carry it on by such gentle and insensible degrees, that very excellent persons, who have made the most eminent attainments in the Divine life, have been unable to recount any remarkable history of their conversion. And so far as I can learn, this is most frequently the case with those of them who have enjoyed the benefit of a pious education, when it has not been succeeded by a vicious and licentious youth. God forbid, therefore, that any should be so insensible of their own happiness as to fall into perplexity with relation to their spiritual state, for want oft being able to trace such a rise of religion in their minds as it was necessary on my plan for me to describe and exemplify here. I have spoken my sentiments on this head so fully in the eighth of my Sermons on Regeneration, that I think none who has read and remembers the general contents of it can be ill danger of mistaking my meaning here. But as it is very possible this book may fall into the hands or many who have not read the other, and have no opportunity of consulting it, I thought it proper to insert this caution in the preface to this; and I am much obliged to that worthy and excellent person who kindly reminded me of the expediency of doing it.

Philip Doddridge

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THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF RELIGION IN THE SOUL.

Chapter I.

THE INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK WITH SOME GENERAL ACCOUNT OF ITS DESIGN.

1.2.That true religion is very rare, appears from comparing the nature of it with the lives and characters of men around us.--3. The want of it, matter of just lamentation.--4. To remedy this evil is the design of the ensuing Treatise.--5. 6. To which, therefore, the Author earnestly bespeaks the attention of the reader, as his own heart is deeply interested in it.--7.to 12. A general plan of the Work; of which the first fifteen Chapters relate chiefly to the Rise of Religion, and the remaining Chapters to its Progress,--Prayer for the success of the Work.

1. WHEN we look around us with an attentive eye, and consider the characters and pursuits of men, we plainly see, that though, in the original constitution of their natures, they only, of all the creatures that dwell on the face of the earth, are capable of religion, yet many of them shamefully neglect it. And whatever different notions people may entertain of what they call religion, all must agree in owning that it is very far from being a universal thing.

     2. Religion, in its most general view, is such a Sense of God in the soul, and such a conviction of our obligations to him, and of our dependence upon him, as shall engage us to make it our great care to conduct ourselves in a manner which we have reason to believe will be pleasing to him. Now, when we have given this plain account of religion, it is by no means necessary that we should search among the savages of distant Pagan nations to find instances of those who are strangers to it. When we view the conduct of the generality of people at home, in a Christian and Protestant nation, in a nation whose obligations to God have been singular, almost beyond those of any other people under heaven, will any one presume to say that religion has a universal reign among us? Will any one suppose that it prevails in every life; that it reigns in every heart? Alas! the avowed infidelity, the profanation of the name and day of God, the drunkenness, the lewdness, the injustice, the falsehood, the pride, the prodigality, the base selfishness, and stupid insensibility about the spiritual and eternal interests of themselves and others, which so generally appear among us, loudly proclaim the contrary. So that one would imagine, upon this view, that thousands and tens of thousands thought the neglect, and even the contempt of religion, were a glory, rather than a reproach. And where is the neighborhood, where is the society, where is the happy family, consisting of any considerable number, in which, on a more exact examination, we find reason to say, "religion fills even this little circle?" Where is, perhaps, a freedom from any gross and scandalous immoralities, an external decency of behavior, an attendance on the outward forms of worship in public, and, here and there, in the family; yet amidst all this, there is nothing which looks like the genuine actings of the spiritual and divine life. There is no appearance of love to God, no reverence of his presence, no desire of his favor as the highest good: there is no cordial belief of the Gospel of salvation; no eager solicitude to escape that condemnation which we have incurred by sin; no hearty concern to secure that eternal life which Christ has purchased and secured for his people, and which he freely promises to all who will receive him. Alas! whatever the love of a friend, or even a parent can do; whatever inclination there may be to hope all things, and believe all things the most favorable, evidence to the contrary will force itself upon the mind, and extort the unwilling conclusion, that, whatever else may be amiable in this dear friend--in that favorite child--"religion dwells not in his breast."

     3. To a heart that firmly believes the Gospel, and in views persons and things the light of eternity, this is one of the most mournful considerations in the world. And indeed, to such a one, all other calamities and evils of human nature appear trifles, when compared with this-the absence of real religion, and that contrariety to it which reigns in so many thousands of mankind. Let this be cured, and all the other evils will easily be borne; nay, good will be extracted out of them. But if this continue, it "bringeth forth fruit unto death;" (Rom. 7:5) and in consequence of it, multitudes, who stare the entertainments of an indulgent Providence with us, and are at least allied to us by the bond of the same common nature, must, in a few years, be swept away into utter destruction, and be plunged, beyond redemption, into everlasting burnings.

     4. I doubt not but there are many, under the various forms of religious profession, who are not only lamenting this in public, if their office in life calls them to an opportunity of doing it; but are likewise mourning before God in secret, under a sense of this sad state of things; and who can appeal to Him that searches all hearts as to the sincerity of their desires to revive the languishing cause of vital Christianity and substantial piety. And among the rest, the author of this treatise may with confidence say, it is this which animates him to the present attempt, in the midst of so many other cares and labors. For this he is willing to lay aside many of those curious amusements in science which might suit his own private taste, and perhaps open a way for some reputation in the learned world. For this be is willing to wave the labored ornaments of speech, that be may, if possible, descend to the capacity of the lowest part of mankind. For this he would endeavor to convince the judgment, and to reach the heart of every reader: and, in a word, for this, without any dread of the name of an enthusiast, whoever may at random throw it out upon the occasion, he would, as it were, enter with you into your closet, from day to day; and with all plainness and freedom, as well as seriousness, would discourse to you of the great things, which he has learned from the Christian revelation, and on which he assuredly knows your everlasting happiness to depend; that, if you hitherto have lived without religion, you may be now awakened to the consideration of it, and may be instructed in its nature and importance; or that, if you are already, through Divine grace, experimentally acquainted with it, you may be assisted to make a farther progress.

     5. But he earnestly entreats this favor of you that, as it is plainly a serious business we are entering upon, you would be pleased to give him a serious and an active hearing. He entreats that these addresses, and these meditations, may be perused at leisure, and be thought over in retirement; and that you would do him and yourself the justice to believe the representations which art here made, and the warnings which are here given. to proceed from sincerity and love, from a heart that would not designedly give one moment's unnecessary pain to the meanest creature on the face of the earth, and much less to any human mind. If he be importunate, it is because he at least imagines that there is just reason for it, and fears, lest, amidst the multitudes who are undone by the utter neglect of religion, and among those who are greatly damaged for want of a more resolute and constant attendance to it, this may be the case of some into whose hands this treatise may fall.

     6. He is a barbarian, and deserves not to be called a man, who can look upon the sorrows of his fellow creatures without drawing out his soul unto them and wishing, at least, that it were in the power of his hand to help them. Surely earth would be a heaven to that man who could go about from place to place scattering happiness wheresoever be came, though it were only the body that he were capable of relieving, and though he could impart nothing better than the happiness of a mortal life. But the happiness rises in proportion to the nature and degree of the good which he imparts. Happy, are we ready to say, were those honored servants of Christ, who, in the early days of his church, were the benevolent and sympathizing instruments of conveying miraculous healing to those whose cases seemed desperate; who poured in upon the blind and the deaf the pleasures of light and sound, and called up the dead to the flowers of action and enjoyment. But this is an honor and happiness which it is not fit for God commonly to bestow on mortal men. Yet there have been, in every age, and blessed be his name, there still are those whom he has condescended to make his instruments in conveying nobler and more lasting blessings than these to their fellow-creatures. Death has long since veiled the eyes and stopped she ears of those who were the subjects of miraculous healing, and recovered its empire over those who were once recalled from the grave. But the souls who are prevailed upon to receive the Gospel, live for ever. God has owned the labors of his faithful ministers in every age to produce these blessed effects; and some of them "being dead, yet speak" (Heb. 11:4) with power and success in this important cause. Wonder not then, if, living and dying I be ambitions of this honor; and if my mouth be freely opened, where I can truly say, "my heart is enlarged." (2 Cor. 6:11)

     7. In forming my general plan, I have been solicitous that this little treatise might, if possible, be useful to all its readers, and contain something suitable to each. I will therefore take the man and the Christian in a great variety of circumstances. I will first suppose myself addressing one of the vast number of thoughtless creatures who have hitherto been utterly unconcerned about religion, and will try what can be done, by all plainness and earnestness of address, to awaken him from this fatal lethargy, to a care (chap. 2), an affectionate and an immediate care about it (chap. 3). I will labor to fix a deep and awful conviction of guilt upon his conscience (chap. 4), and to strip him of his vain excuses and his flattering hopes (chap. 5). I will read to him, O! that I could fix on his heart that sentence, that dreadful sentence, which a righteous and an Almighty God hath denounced against him as a sinner (chap. 6), and endeavor to show him in how helpless a state he lies under this condemnation, as to any capacity he has of delivering himself (chap 7). But I do not mean to leave any in so terrible a situation: I will joyfully proclaim the glad tidings of pardon and salvation by Christ Jesus our Lord, which is all the support and confidence of my own soul (chap. 8). And then I will give some general view of the way by which this salvation is to be obtained (chap. 9); urging the sinner to accept of it as affectionately as I can (chap. 10); though not thing can be sufficiently pathetic, where, as sin this matter, the life of an immortal soul is in question.

     8. Too probable it is that some will, after all this, remain insensible; and therefore that their sad case may not encumber the following articles, I shall here take a solemn leave of them (chap. 11); and then shall turn and address myself as compassionately as I can, to a most contrary character; I mean, to a soul overwhelmed with a sense of the greatness of its sins, and trembling under the burden, as if there were no more hope for him in God (chap. 12). And that nothing may be omitted which may give solid peace to the troubled spirit, I shall endeavor to guide its inquiries as to the evidences of sincere repentance and faith (chap. 13); which will be farther illustrated by a more particular view of the several branches of the Christian temper, such as may serve at once to assist the reader in judging whit he is, and to show him what he should labor to be (chap. 14). This will naturally lead to a view of the need we have of the influences of the blessed Spirit to assist us in the important and difficult work of the true Christian, and of the encouragement we have to hope for such divine assistance (chap. 15). In an humble dependence on which, I shall then enter on the consideration of several cases which often occur in the Christian life, in which particular addresses to the conscience may be requisite and useful.

     9. As some peculiar difficulties and discouragements attend the first entrance on a religious course, it will here be our first care to animate the young convert against them (chap. 16). And that it may be done more effectually, I shall urge a solemn dedication of himself to God (chap. 17), to be confirmed by entering into a communion of the church, and an approach to the sacred table (chap. 18). That these engagements may be more happily fulfilled, we shall endeavor to draw a more particular plan of that devout, regular and accurate course, which ought daily to be attended to (chap. 19). And because the idea will probably rise so much higher than what is the general practice, even of good men, we shall endeavor to persuade the reader to make the attempt, hard as it may seem (chap. 20); and shall caution him against various temptations, which might otherwise draw him aside to negligence and sin (chap.21).

     10. Happy will it be for the reader, if these exhortations and cautions be attended to with becoming regard; but as it is, alas! too probable that, notwithstanding all, the infirmities of nature will sometimes prevail, we shall consider the case of deadness and languor in religion, which often steals upon us by sensible degrees (chap. 22); from whence there is too easy a passage to that terrible one of a return into known and deliberate sin (chap. 23). And as the one or the other of these tends in a proportionable degree to provoke the blessed God to hide his face, and his injured Spirit to withdraw, that melancholy condition will be taken into particular survey (chap. 24). I shall then take notice also of the case of great and heavy afflictions in life (chap. 25), a discipline which the best of men have reason to expect, especially when they backslide from God and yield to their spiritual enemies.

     11. Instances of this kind will, I fear, be too frequent; yet, I trust, there will be many others, whose path, like the dawning light, will "shine more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18) And therefore we shall endeavor, in the best manner we can, to assist the Christian in passing a true judgment on the growth of grace in his heart (chap. 26), as we had done before in judging of its sincerity. And as nothing conduces more to the advancement of grace than the lively exercise of love to God, and a holy joy in him, we shall here remind the real Christian of those mercies which tend to excite that love and joy (chap. 27); and in the view of them to animate him to those vigorous efforts of usefulness in life, which so well become his character, and will have so happy an efficacy in brightening his crown (chap. 28). Supposing him to act accordingly, we shall then labor to illustrate and assist the delight with which he may look forward to the awful solemnities of death and judgment (chap. 29). And shall close the scene by accompanying him, as it were, to the nearest confines of that dark valley through which he is to pass to glory; giving him such directions as may seem most subservient to his honoring God and adorning religion by his dying behavior (chap. 30). Nor am I without a pleasing hope, that, through the Divine blessing and grace, I may be, in some instances, so successful as to leave those triumphing in the views of judgment and eternity, and glorifying God by a truly Christian life and death, whom I found trembling in the apprehensions of future misery; or, perhaps, in a much more dangerous and miserable condition than that I mean, entirely forgetting the prospect, and sunk in the most stupid insensibility of those things, for an attendance to which the human mind was formed, and in comparison of which all the pursuits of this transitory life are emptier than wind and lighter than a feather.

     12. Such a variety of heads must, to be sure, be handled but briefly, as we intend to bring them within the bulk of a moderate volume. I shall not, therefore, discuss them as a preacher might properly do in sermons, in which the truths of religion are professedly to be explained and taught, defended and improved, in a wide variety, and long detail of propositions, arguments, objections, replies, and inferences, marshalled and numbered under their distinct generals. I shall here speak in a looser and freer manner, as a friend to a friend; just as I would do if I were to be in person admitted to a private audience by one whom I tenderly loved, and whose circumstances and character I knew to be like that which the title of one Chapter or another of this treatise describes. And when I have discoursed with him a little while, which will seldom be so long as half an hour, shill, as it were, step aside, and leave him to meditate on what he has heard, or endeavor to assist him in such fervent addresses to God as it may be proper to mingle with those meditations. In the mean time, I will here take the liberty to pray over my reader and my work, and to commend it solemnly to the Divine blessing, in token of my deep conviction of an entire dependence upon it. And I am well persuaded that sentiments like these are common, in the general, to every faithful minister to every real Christian.

      A Prayer for the Success of this Work, in promoting the Rise and Progress of Religion.

     "O thou great eternal Original, and Author of all created being and happiness! I adore thee, who hast made man a creature capable of religion, and host bestowed this dignity and felicity upon our nature, that it may be taught to say, Where is God our maker? (Job 35:10) I lament that degeneracy spread over the whole human race, which has "turned our glory into shame," (Hos. 4:7) and has rendered the forgetfulness of God, unnatural as it is, so common and so universal a disease. Holy Father, We know it is thy presence, and thy teaching alone, that can reclaim thy wandering children, can impress a sense of Divine things on the heart, and render that sense listing and effectual. From thee proceed all goon purposes and desires; and this desire, above all, of diffusing wisdom, piety, and happiness in this world. which (though sunk in such deep apostacy) thine infinite mercy has not utterly forsaken.

     "Thou `knowest, O Lord, the hearts of the children of men;' (2 Chron. 6:30) and an upright soul, in the midst of all the censures and suspicions it may meet with, rejoices in thine intimate knowledge of its most secret sentiments and principles of action. Thou knowest the sincerity and fervency with which thine unworthy servant desires to spread the knowledge of thy name, and the savor of thy Gospel, among all to whom this work may reach. Thou knowest that hadst thou given him an abundance of this world, it would have been, in his esteem, the noblest pleasure that abundance could have afforded to have been thine almoner in distributing thy bounties to the indigent and necessitous, and so causing the sorrowful heart to rejoice in thy goodness, dispensed through his hands. Thou knowest, that, hadst thou given him, either by ordinary or extraordinary methods, the gift of healing, it would have been his daily delight to relieve the pains, the maladies, and the infirmities of men's bodies; to have seen the languishing countenance brightened by returning health and cheerfulness; and much more to have beheld the roving, distracted mind reduced to calmness and serenity in the exercise of its rational faculties. Yet happier, far happier wilt he think himself, in those humble circumstances in which thy providence hath placed him, if thou vouchsafe to honor these his feeble endeavors as the means of a relieving and enriching men's minds; of recovering them from the madness of a sinful state, and bringing back thy reasonable creatures to the knowledge, the service, and the enjoyment of their God; or of improving those who are already reduced.

     "O may it have that blessed influence on the person, whosoever he be, that is now reading these lines, and all who may read or hear them! Let not my Lord be angry if I presume to ask, that, however weak and contemptible this work may seem in the eyes of the children of this world, and however imperfect it really be, as well as the author of it unworthy, it may nevertheless live before thee; and, through a divine power, be mighty to produce the rise and progress of religion in the minds of multitudes in distant places, and in generations yet to come! Impute it not, O God, as a culpable ambition, if I desire that, whatever becomes of my name, about which I wou1d not lose one thought before thee, this work, to which I am now applying myself in thy strength, may be completed and propagated far abroad: that it may reach to those that are yet unborn, and teach them thy name and thy praise, when the author has long dwelt in the dust; that so, when he shall appear before thee in the great day of final account, his joy may be increased, and his crown brightened, by numbers before unknown to each other, and to him! But if this petition be too great to be granted to one who pretends no claim but thy sovereign grace to hope for being favored with the least, give him to be, in thine Almighty hand, the blessed instrument of converting and saving one soul; and if it be but one, and that the weakest and meanest of those who are capable or receiving this address, it shall be most thankfully accepted as a rich recompense for all the thought and labor it may cost; and though it should be amidst a thousand disappointments with respect to others, yet it shall be the subject of immortal songs of praise to thee, O blessed God, for and by every soul whom, through the blood of Jesus and the grace of thy Spirit, thou hast saved; and everlasting honors shall be ascribed to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, by the innumerable company of angels, and by the general assembly and church of the first-born in heaven. Amen."

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Chapter II.

THE CARELESS SINNER AWAKENED.

1.2. It is too supposable a case that this Treatise may come into such hands.--3. 4. Since many, not grossly vicious, fail under that character.--5. 6. A more particular illustration of this case, with an appeal to the reader, whether it be not his own.--7 to 9. Expostulation with such.--10 to 12. More particularly--From acknowledged principles relating to the Nature of Got, his universal presence, agency, and perfection.--13. From a view of personal obligations to him.--14. From the danger Of this neglect, when considered in its aspect on a future state.--15. An appeal to the conscience as already convinced.--16. Transition to the subject of the next Chapter. The meditation of a sinner, who, having been long thoughtless, begins to be awakened.

1. SHAMEFULLY and fatally as religion is neglected in the world, yet, blessed be God, it has some sincere disciples, children of wisdom, by whom even in this foolish and degenerate age, it "is justified:" (Matt. 9:18) who having, by Divine grace, been brought to the knowledge of God in Christ, have faithfully devoted their hearts to him, and, by a natural consequence, are devoting their lives to his service. Could I be sure this Treatise would fall into no hands but theirs, my work would be shorter, easier and more pleasant.

     2. But among the thousands that neglect religion, it is more than probable that some of my readers may be included; and I am so deeply affected with their unhappy ease, that the temper of my heart, as well as the proper method of my subject, leads me, in the first place, to address myself to such: to apply to every one of them; and therefore to you, O reader, whoever you are, who may come under the denomination of a careless sinner.

     3. Be not, I beseech you angry at the name. The physicians of souls must speak plainly, or they may murder those whom they should cure I would make no harsh and unreasonable supposition. I would charge you with nothing more than is absolutely necessary to convince you that you are the person to whom I speak. I will not, therefore, imagine you to be a profane and abandoned profligate. I will not suppose that you allow yourself to blaspheme God, to dishonour his name by customary swearing, or grossly to violate his Sabbath, or commonly to neglect the solemnities of his public worship; I will not imagine that you have injured your neighbors, in their lives, their chastity, or their possessions, either by violence or by fraud; or that you have scandalously debased the rational nature of man, by that vile intemperance which transforms us into the worst kind of brutes, or something beneath them.

     4. In opposition to all this, I will suppose that you believe the existence and providence of God, and the truth of Christianity as a revelation from him: of which, if you have any doubt, I must desire that you would immediately seek your satisfaction elsewhere*." I say immediately; because not to believe it, is in effect to disbelieve it; and will make your ruin equally certain, though perhaps it may leave it less aggravated than if contempt and opposition had been added to suspicion and neglect. But supposing you to be a nominal Christian, and not a deist or a skeptic, I wilt also suppose your conduct among men to be not only blameless, but amiable; and that they who know you most intimately, must acknowledge that you are just and sober, humane and courteous, compassionate and liberal; yet, with all this, you may "lack that one thing" (Mark 10: 21) on which your eternal happiness depends.

     5. I beseech you, reader, whoever you are, that you would now look seriously into your own heart, and ask it this one plain question; Am I truly religious? Is the love of God the governing principle of my life? Do I walk under the sense of his presence? Do I converse with him from day to day, in the exercise of prayer and praise? And am I, on the whole, making his service my business and my delight, regarding him as my master and my father?

     6. It is my present business only to address myself to the person whose conscience answers in the negative. And I would address, with equal plainness and equal freedom, to high and low, to rich and poor: to you, who, as the Scripture with a dreadful propriety expresses it, "live without God in the world!" (Eph. 2:12) and while in words and forms you "own God, deny him in your actions," (Tit. 1:16) and behave yourselves in the main, a few external ceremonies only excepted, just as you would do if you believed and were sure there is no God. Unhappy creature, whoever you are! your own heart condemns you immediately! and how much more that "God who is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." (I John 3:20) He is in "secret," (Matt. 6:6) as well as in and words cannot express the delight with which his children converse with him alone: but in secret you acknowledge him not: you neither pray to him, nor praise him in your retirements. Accounts, correspondences studies, may often bring you into your closet; but if nothing but devotion were to be transacted there, it would be to you quite an unfrequented place. And thus you go on from day to day in a continual forgetfulness of God, and are as thoughtless about religion as if you had long since demonstrated to yourself that it was a mere dream. If, indeed, you are sick, you will perhaps cry to God for health in any extreme danger you will lift up your eyes and voice for deliverance but as for the pardon of sin, and the other blessings of the Gospel, you are not at all inwardly solicitous about them; though you profess to believe that the Gospel is divine, and the blessings of it eternal. All your thoughts, and all your hours are divided between the business and the amusements of life; and if now and then an awful providence or a serious sermon or book awakens you, it is but a few days, or it may be a few hours, and you are the same careless creature you ever were before. On the whole, you act as if you were resolved to put it to the venture, and at your own expense to make the experiment, whether the consequences of neglecting religion be indeed as terrible as its ministers and friends have represented. Their remonstrances do indeed sometimes force themselves upon you, as (considering the age and country in which you live), it is hardly possible entirely to avoid them; but you have, it may be, found out the art of Isaiah's people, "hearing to hear, and not understand; and seeing to see, and not perceive your heart is waxed gross, your eyes are closed, and your ears heavy." (Isa. 6:9,10) Under the very ordinances of worship your thoughts "are at the ends of the earth." (Prov. 17:24) Every amusement of the imagination is welcome, if it may but lead away your mind from so insipid and so disagreeable a subject as religion. And probably the very last time you were in a worshipping assembly, you managed just as you would have done if you had thought God knew nothing of your behavior, or as if you did not think it worth one single care whether he were pleased or displeased with it.

     7. Alas! is it then come to this, with all your belief of God, and providence and Scripture, that religion is not worth a thought? That it is not worth one hour's serious consideration and reflection, "what God and Christ are, and what you yourselves are, and what you must hereafter be?" Where then are your rational faculties? How are they employed, or rather how are they stupefied and benumbed?

     8. The certainty and importance of the things of which I speak are so evident, from the principles which you yourselves grant, that one might almost set a child or an idiot to reason upon them. And yet they are neglected by those who are grown up to understanding; and perhaps some of them to such refinement of understanding that they would think themselves greatly injured if they were not to be reckoned among the politer and more learned pan of mankind.

     9. But it is not your neglect, sirs, that can destroy the being or importance of such things as these. It may indeed destroy you, but it cannot in the least affect them. Permit me, therefore, having been my-self awakened, to come to each of you, and say, as the mariners did to Jonah while asleep in the midst of a much less dangerous storm, "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise and call upon thy God." (Jonah 1:6) Do you doubt as to the reasonableness or necessity of doing it? "I will demand, and answer me;" (Job 38:3) answer me to your own conscience, as one that must, ere long, render another kind of account.

     10. You own that there is a God, and well you may, for you cannot open your eyes but you must see the evident proofs of his being, his presence, and his agency. You behold him around you in every object. You feel him within you, if I may so speak, in every vein and in every nerve. You see and you feel not only that he hath formed you with an exquisite wisdom which no mortal man could ever fully explain or comprehend, but that he is continually near you, wherever you are, and however you are employed, by day or by night; "in hint you live, and move, and have your being." (Acts 17:28) Common sense will tell you that it is not your own wisdom, and power, and attention that causes your heart to beat and your blood to circulate; that draws in and sends out that breath of life, that precarious breath of a most uncertain life, "the is in your nostrils." (Isa. 2:22) These things are done when you sleep, as well as in those waking moments when you think not of the circulation of the blood, or of the necessity of breathing, or so much as recollect that you have a heart or lungs. Now, what is this but the hand of God, perpetually supporting and actuating those curious machines that he has made?

     11. Nor is this his care limited to you; but if you look all around you, far as your view can reach, you see it extending itself on every side: and, oh! how much farther than you can trace it! Reflect on the light and heat which the sun every where dispenses; on the air which surrounds all our globe; on the right temperature on which the life of the whole human race depends, and that of all the inferior creatures which dwell on the earth. Think on the suitable and plentiful provisions made for man and beast; the grass, the grain, the variety of fruits, and herbs, and flowers; every thing that nourishes us, every thing that delights us, and say whether it does not speak plainly and loudly that our Almighty Maker is near, and that he is careful or us, and kind to us. And while all these things proclaim his goodness, do not they also proclaim his power? For what power has any thing comparable to that which furnishes out those gifts of royal bounty; and which, unwearied and unchanged, produces continually, from day to day, and from age to age, such astonishing and magnificent effects over the face of the whole earth, and through all the regions of heaven?

     12. It is then evident that God is present, present with you at this moment; even God your creator and preserver, God the creator and preserver of the whole visible and invisible world. And is he not present as a most observant and attentive being? "He that formed the eye, shall not he see? He that planted the ear, shall not he hear? He that teaches man knowledge," that gives him his rational faculties, and pours in upon his opening mind all the light it receives by them, "shall not he know?" (Psal. 94:9,10) He who sees all the necessities of his creatures so seasonably to provide for them, shall be not see their actions too; and seeing, shall he not judge them? Has he given us a sense and discrimination of what is good and evil, of what is true and false, of what is fair and deformed in temper and con duct; and has he himself no discernment of these things? Trifle not with your conscience, which tells you at once that he judges of it, and approves or condemns as it is decent or indecent, reasonable or flu-reasonable; and that the judgment which he passes is of infinite importance to all his creatures.

     13. And now to apply all this to your own case; let me seriously ask you, is it a decent and reasonable thing, that this great and glorious Benefactor should be neglected by his rational creatures--by those that are capable of attaining to some knowledge of him, and presenting to him some homage? Is it decent and reasonable that he should be forgotten and neglected by you? Are you alone, of all the works or his hands, forgotten or neglected by him? O sinner, thoughtless as you are, you cannot dare to say that, or even to think it. You need not go back to the he1pless days of your infancy and childhood to convince you of the contrary. You need not, in order to this, recollect the remarkable deliverances which perhaps were wrought out for you many years ago. The repose of the last night, the refreshment and comfort you have received this day; yea, the mercies you are receiving this very moment bear witness to him; and yet you regard him not ungrateful creature that you are! Could you have treated any human benefactor thus? Could you have borne to neglect a kind parent, or any generous friend, that had but for a few months acted the part of a parent to you; to have taken no notice of him while in his presence; to have returned him no thanks; to have had no contrivances to make some little acknowledgment for all his goodness? Human nature, bad as it is, is not fallen so low. Nay, the brutal nature is not so low as this. Surely every domestic animal around you must shame such ingratitude. If you do but for a few days take a little kind notice of a dog, and feed him with the refuse of your table, he will wait upon you, and love to be near you; he will be eager to follow you from place to place, and when, after a little absence you return home, will try, by a thousand fond, transported motions, to tell you how much he rejoices to see you again. Nay, brutes far less sagacious and apprehensive have some sense of our kindness, and express it after their way: as the blessed God condescends to observe, in this very view in which I mention it, "The" dull "ox knows his owner, and the" stupid "ass his master's crib." (Isa. 1: 3) What lamentable degeneracy therefore is it, that you do not know-that you, who have been numbered among God's professed people, do not and will not consider your numberless obligations to him.

     14. Surely, if you have any ingenuousness of temper, you must be ashamed and grieved in the review; but if you have not, give me leave farther to expostulate with you on this head, by setting it in something of a different light. Can you think your-self safe, while you are acting a part like this? Do you not in your conscience believe there will be a future judgment? Do you not believe there is an invisible and eternal world? As professed Christians, we all believe it; for it is no controverted point, but displayed in Scripture with so clear an evidence, that, subtle and ingenious as men are in error, they have riot yet found out a way to evade it. And believing this, do you not see, that, while you are thus wandering from God, "destruction and misery are in your way?" (Rom. 3:16) Will this indolence and negligence of temper be any security to you? Will it guard you from death? Will it excuse you from judgment? You might much more reasonably expect that shutting your eyes would be a defence against the rage of a devouring lion; or that looking another way should secure your body from being pierced by a bullet or a sword; When God speaks of the extravagant folly of some thoughtless creatures who would hearken to no admonition now he adds, in a very awful manner, "In the latter day they shall consider it perfectly." (Jer. 23:20) And is not this applicable to you? Must you not sooner or later be brought to think of these things, whether you wilt or not! And in the mean time do you not certainly know that timely and serious reflection upon them is, through divine grace, the only way to prevent your ruin!

     15. Yes, sinner, I need not multiply words on a subject like this. Your conscience is already inwardly convinced, though your pride maybe unwilling to own it. And to prove it, let me ask you one question more: Would you, upon any terms and considerations whatever, come to a resolution absolutely to dismiss all farther thought of religion, and all care about it, from this day and hour, and to abide the consequences of that neglect? I believe hardly any man living would be bold enough to determine upon this. I believe most of my readers would be ready to tremble at the thought of it.

     16. But if it be necessary to take these things into consideration at all, it is necessary to do it quickly; for life itself is not so very long nor so certain, that a wise man should risk much upon its continuance. And I hope to convince you when I have another hearing, that it is necessary to do it immediately, and that next to the madness of resolving you will not think of religion at all, is that of saying you will think of it hereafter. In the meantime, pause art the hints which have been already given, and they will prepare you to receive what is to be added on that head.

      The Meditation of a Sinner who was once thoughtless, but begins to be awakened.

     "Awake, O my forgetful soul, awake from these wandering dreams. Turn thee from this chase of vanity, and for a little while be persuaded, by all these considerations, to look forward, and to look upward, at least for a few moments. Sufficient are the hours and days given to the labors and amusements of life. Grudge not a short allotment of minutes, to view thyself and thine own more immediate concerns: to reflect who and what thou art, how it comes to pass that thou art here, and what thou must quickly be!

     "It is indeed as thou hast seen it now represented. O my soul! thou art the creature of God, formed and furnished by him, and lodged in a body which he provided, and which he supports; a body in which he intends thee only a transitory abode. O! think how soon this `tabernacle' must be `dissolved,' (2 Cor. 5:1) and thou must `return to God.' (Eccl. 12:7) And shall He, the One, Infinite, Eternal, Ever-blessed, and Ever-glorious Being, shall He be least of all regarded by thee? Wilt thou live and die with this character, saying, by every action of every day, unto God, `Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways?' (Job 21:14) The morning, the day, the evening, the night, every period of time has its excuses for this neglect. But O! my soul, what will these excuses appear when examined by his penetrating eye! They may delude me, but they cannot impose upon him.

     "O thou injured, neglected, provoked Benefactor! when I think but for a moment or two of all thy greatness and of all thy goodness, I am astonished at this insensibility which has prevailed in my heart, and even still prevails; I `blush and am confounded to lift up my face before thee.' (Ezra 9:6) On the most transient review, I `see that I have played the fool,' that `I have erred exceedingly.' (I Sam. 26:21) And yet this stupid heart of mine would make its having neglected thee so long a reason for going on to neglect thee. I own it might justly be expected, that, with regard to thee, every one of thy rational creatures should be all duty and love; that each heart should be full of a sense of thy presence; and that a care to please thee should swallow up every other care. Yet thou `hast not been in all my thoughts;' (Psa. 10:4) and religion, the end and glory of my nature, has been so strangely overlooked, that I have hardly ever seriously asked my own heart what it is. I know, if matters rest here, I perish; yet I feel in my perverse nature a secret indisposition to pursue these thoughts; a proneness, if not entirely to dismiss them, yet to lay them aside side for the present. My mind is perplexed and divided; but I am sure, thou, who madest me, knowest what is best for me. I therefore beseech thee that thou wilt, `for thy name's sake, lead me and guide me.' (Psa. 31:3) Let me not delay till it is for ever too late. `Pluck me as a brand out of the burning!' (Amos 4:11) O break this fatal enchantment that holds down my affection to objects which my judgment comparatively despises! and let me, at length, come into so happy a state of mind that I may not be afraid to think of thee and of myself, and may not be tempted to wish that thou hadst not made me, or that thou couldst for ever forget me; that it may not he my best hope, to perish like the brutes.

     "If what I shall farther read here be agreeable to truth and reason, if it be calculated to promote my happiness, and is to be regarded as an intimation of thy will and pleasure to me, O God, let me hear and obey! Let the words of thy servant, when pleading thy cause, be like goads to pierce into my mind! and let me rather feel, and smart, than die! Let them be `as nails fastened in a sure place;' (Eccl. 12:4) that whatever mysteries as yet unknown, or whatever difficulties there be in religion, if it be necessary, I may not finally neglect it; and that, if it be expedient to attend immediately to it, I may no longer delay that attendance! And, O! let thy grace teach me the lesson I am so slow to learn and conquer that strong opposition which I feel in my heart against the very thought of it! Hear these broken cries, for the sake of thy Son, who has taught and saved many a creature as untractable as I, and can `out of stones raise up children unto Abraham!' (Matt. 3:9) Amen."

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Chapter III.

THE AWAKENED SINNER URGED TO IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION AND CAUTIONED AGAINST DELAY.

1. Sinners, when awakened, inclined to dismiss convictions for the present.--2. An immediate regard to religion urged.--3. From the excellence and pleasure of the thing itself.--4. From the uncertainty of that future time on which sinners presume, compared with the sad consequences of being cut off in sin.--5. From the immutability of God's present demands.--6. From the tendency which delay has to make a compliance with these demands more difficult than it is at present.--7. From. the danger of God's withdrawing his Spirit, compared with the dreadful case of a sinner given up by it.--8. Which probably is now the case of many.--9. Since, therefore, on the whole, whatever ever the event be, delays may prove matter of lamentation.--10. The Chapter concludes with an exhortation against yielding to them; and a prayer against temptations of that kind.

1. I HOPE my last address so far awakened the convictions of my reader, as to bring him to this purpose, "that some time or other he would attend to religious considerations." But give me leave to ask, earnestly and pointedly, When shall that be? "Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee," (Acts 24:25) was the language and ruin of unhappy Felix, when he trembled under the reasonings and expostulations of the apostle. The tempter presumed not to urge that he should give up all thoughts of repentance and reformation; but only that, considering the present hurry of his affairs, (as no doubt they were many) he should defer it to another day. The artifice succeeded; and Felix was undone.

     2. Will you, render, dismiss me thus? For your own sake, and out of tender compassion to your perishing, immortal soul, I would not willingly take up with such a dismission and excuse--no, not though you shall fix a time; though you shall determine on the next year, or month, or week, or day. I would turn upon you, with all the eagerness and tenderness of friendly importunity, and entreat you to bring the matter to an issue even now. For if you say, "I will think on these things tomorrow," I shall have little hope; and shall conclude that all that I have hitherto urged, and all that you have read, has been offered and viewed in vain.

     3. When I invite you to the care and practice of religion, it may seem strange that it should be necessary for me affectionately to plead the cause with you, in order to your immediate regard and compliance. What I am inviting you to is so noble and excellent in itself, so well worthy of the dignity of our rational nature so suitable to it, so manly and so wise, that one would imagine you should take fire, as it were, at the first hearing of it; yea, that so delightful a view should presently possess your whole soul with a kind of indignation against your-self that you pursued it no sooner. "May I lift up my eyes and my soul to God! May I devote my-self to him! May I even now commence a friendship with him--a friendship which shall last for ever, the security, the delight, the glory of this immortal nature of mine! And shall I draw back and say, Nevertheless, let me not commence this friendship too soon: let me live at least a few weeks or a few days longer without God in the world?" Surely it would be much more reasonable to turn inward, and say, "O my soul, on what vile husks hast thou been feeding, while thy Heavenly Father has been forsaken and injured? Shall I desire to multiply the days of my poverty, my scandal, and my misery?" On this principle, surely an immediate return to God should in all reason be chosen, rather than to play the fool any longer, and go on a little more to displease God, and thereby starve and wound your own soul! even though your continuance in life were ever so certain, and your capacity to return to God and your duty ever so entirely in your power, now, and in every future moment, through scores of years yet to come.

     4. But who and what are you, that you should lay your account for years or for months to come? "What is your life? Is not even as a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away?" (Jam. 4:14) And what is your security, or what is your peculiar warrant, that you should thus depend upon the certainty of its continuance, and that so absolutely as to venture, as it were, to pawn your soul upon it? Why, you will perhaps say, "I am young, and in all my bloom and vigor; I see hundreds about me who are more than double my age, and not a few of them who seem to think it too soon to attend to religion yet."

     You view the living, and you talk thus. But I beseech you, think of the dead. Return, in your thoughts, to those graves in which you have left some of your young companions and your friends. You saw them awhile ago gay and active, warm with life, and hopes, and schemes. And some of them would have thought a friend strangely importunate that should have interrupted them in their business and their pleasures, with a solemn lecture on death and eternity. Yet they were then on the very borders of both. You have since seen their corpses, or at least their coffins, and probably carried about with you the badges of mourning which you received at their funerals. Those once vigorous, and perhaps beautiful bodies of theirs, now lie moldering in the dust, as senseless and helpless as the most decrepit pieces of human nature which fourscore years ever brought down to it. And, what is infinitely more to be regarded, their souls, whether prepared for this great change, or thoughtless of it, have made their appearance before God, and are at this moment fixed, either in heaven or in hell. Now let me seriously ask you, would it be miraculous. Or would it be strange, if such an event should befall you? How are you sure that some fatal disease will not this day begin to work in your veins? How are you sure that you shall ever be capable of reading or thinking any more, if you do not attend to what you now read, and pursue the thought which is now offering itself to your mind? This sudden alteration may at least possibly happen; and if it does, it will be to you a terrible one indeed. To be thus surprised into the presence of a forgotten God; to be torn away, at once, from a world to which your whole heart and soul has been riveted--a world which has engrossed all your thoughts and cares, all your desires and pursuits; and be fixed in a state which you never could be so far persuaded to think of, as to spend so much as one hour in serious preparation for it: how must you even shudder at the apprehension of it, and with what horror must it fill you? It seems matter of wonder that in such circumstances you are not almost distracted with the thoughts of the uncertainty of life, and are not even ready to die for fear of death. To trifle with God any longer, after so solemn an admonition as this, would be a circumstance of additional provocation, which, after all the rest, might be fatal; nor is there any thing you can expect in such a case, but that he should cut you off immediately, and teach other thoughtless creatures, by your ruin, what a hazardous experiment they make when they act as you are acting.

     5. And will you, after all, run this desperate risk? For what imaginable purpose can you do it? Do you think the business of religion will become less necessary or more easy by your delay? You know that it will not. You know, that whatever the blessed God demands now, he will also demand twenty or thirty years hence, if you should live to see the time. God has fixed his method, in which he will pardon and accept sinners in his Gospel. And will he ever alter that method? Or if he will not, can men alter it? You like not to think of repenting and humbling yourself before God, to receive righteousness and life from his free grace in Christ; and you, above all, dislike the thought of returning to God in the ways of holy obedience. But will lie ever dispense with any of these, and publish a new Gospel, with promises of life and salvation to impenitent unbelieving sinners, if they will but call themselves Christians, and submit to a few external rites? How long do you think you might wait for such a change in the constitution of things? You know death will come upon you, and you cannot but know, in your own conscience, that a general dissolution will come upon the world long before God can thus deny himself, and contradict all his perfections and all his declarations;

     6. Or if his demands continue the same, as they assuredly will, do you think any thing which is now disagreeable to you in them, will be less disagreeable hereafter than it is at present? Shall you love to sin less, when it becomes more habitual to you, and when your conscience is yet more enfeebled arid debauched? If you are running with the footmen and fainting, shall you be able "to contend with the horsemen?" (Jer. 12:5) Surely you cannot imagine it. You will not say, in any distemper which threatened your life, "I will stay till I grow a little worse, and then I will apply to a physician: I will let my disease get a little more rooting in my vitals, and then I will try what can be done to remove it." No, it is only where the life of the soul is concerned that men think thus wildly: the life and health of the body appear too precious to be thus trifled away.

     7. If; after such desperate experiments, you are ever recovered, it must be by an operation of Divine grace on your soul yet more powerful and more wonderful in proportion to the increasing inveteracy of your spiritual maladies. And can you expect that the Holy Spirit should be more ready to assist you, in consequence of your having so shamefully trifled with him, and affronted him? He is now, in some measure, moving on your heart. If you feel any secret relentings in it upon what you read, it is a sign that you are not yet utterly forsaken. But who can tell whether these are not the last touches he will ever give to a heart so long hardened against him? Who can tell, but God may this day "swear, in his wrath, that you shall not enter into his rest?" (Heb. 3:18) I have been telling you that you may immediately die. You own it is possible you may. And can you think of any thing more terrible? Yes, sinner, I will tell you of one thing more dreadful than immediate death and immediate damnation. The blessed God may say, "As for that wretched creature, who has so long trifled with me and provoked me, let him still live; let him live in the midst of prosperity and plenty; let him live under the purest and the most powerful ordinances of the Gospel too; that he may abuse them to aggravate his condemnation, and die under sevenfold guilt and a sevenfold curse. I will not give him the grace to think of his ways for one serious moment more; but he shall go on from bad to worse, filling up the measure of his iniquities, till death and destruction seize him in an unexpected hour, and `wrath come upon him to the uttermost.'" (1 Thess. 2:16)

     8. You think this is an uncommon case; but I fear it is much otherwise. I fear there are few congregations where the word of God has been faith-fully preached, and where it has long been despised, especially by those whom it had once awakened, in which the eye of God does not see a number of such wretched souls; though it is impossible for us, in this mortal state, to pronounce upon the case who they are.

     9. I pretend not to say how he will deal with you, O reader! whether he will immediately cut you off; or seal you up under final hardness and impenitency of heart, or whether his grace may at length awaken you to consider your ways, and return to him, even when your heart is grown yet more obdurate than it is at present. For to his Almighty grace nothing is hard, not even to transform a rock of marble into a man or a saint. But this I will confidently say, that if you delay any longer, the time will come when you will bitterly repent of that delay, and either lament it before God in the anguish of your heart here or curse your own folly and madness in hell, yea, when will wish that, dreadful as hell is, you had rather fallen into it sooner, than have lived in the midst of so many abused mercies, to render the degree of your punishment more insupportable, and your sense of it more exquisitely tormenting.

     10. I do therefore earnestly exhort you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the worth, and, if I may so speak, by the blood of your immortal and perishing soul, that you delay not a day or an hour longer. Far from "giving sleep to your eye; or slumber to tour eyelids," (Prov. 6:4) in the continued neglect of this important concern, take with you, even now, "words, and turn unto the Lord;" (Hos. 14:2) and before you quit the place where you now are, fall upon your knees in his sacred presence, and pour out your heart in such language, or at least to some such purpose as this:

A Prayer for one who is tempted to delay applying to Religion, though under some conviction of its importance.

     "O thou righteous and holy Sovereign of heaven and earth! thou God, `in whose hand my breath is, and whose are all my ways!' (Dan. 5:23) I confess I have been far from glorifying thee, or conducting myself according to the intimations or the declarations of thy will. I have therefore reason to adore thy forbearance and goodness, that thou hast not long since stopped my breath, and cut me off from the land of the living. I adore thy patience. that I have not, months and years ago, been an inhabitant of hell, where ten thousand delaying sinners are now lamenting their folly, and will be lamenting it for ever. But, O God, how possible is it that this trifling heart of mine may at length betray me into the same ruin! and then, alas! into a ruin aggravated by all this patience and forbearance of thine! I am convinced that, sooner or later, religion must be my serious care, or I am undone. And yet my foolish heart draws back from the yoke; yet I stretch myself upon the bed of sloth, and cry out for `a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep.' (Prov. 6:10) Thus does my corrupt heart plead for its own indulgence against the conviction of my better judgment. What shall I say? O Lord, save me from myself! Save me from the artifices and deceitfulness of sin! Save me from the treachery of this perverse and degenerate nature of mine, and fix upon my mind what I have now been reading!

     "O Lord, I am not now instructed in truths which were before quite unknown. Often have I been warned of the uncertainty of life, and the great uncertainty of the day of salvation. And I have formed some light purposes, and have begun to take a few irresolute steps in my way toward a return to thee. But, alas! I have been only, as it were, fluttering about religion, and have never fixed upon it. All my resolutions have been scattered like smoke, or dispersed like a cloudy vapor before the wind. O that thou wouldst now bring these things home to my heart, with a more powerful conviction than it hath ever yet felt? O that thou would pursue me with them, even when flee from them! If I should even grow mad enough to endeavor to escape them any more, may thy Spirit address me in the language of effectual terror, and add all the most powerful methods which thou knowest to be necessary to awaken me from this lethargy, which must otherwise be mortal! May the sound of these things be in mine ears `when I go out, and when I come in, when I lie down, and when I rise up!' (Deut. 6:7) And if the repose of the night and the business of the day he for a while interrupted by the impression, be it so, O God! if I may but thereby carry on my business with thee to better purpose, and at length secure a repose in thee, instead of all that terror which I now find when `I think upon God, and I am troubled.' (Psal. 77:3)

     "O Lord, `my flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments.' (Psal. 119:120) I am afraid lest, even now that I have begun to think of religion, thou shouldst cut me off in this critical and important moment, before my thoughts grow to any ripeness, and blast in eternal death the first buddings and openings of it in my mind. But O spare me, I earnestly entreat thee: for thy mercies' sake, Spare me a little longer! It may be, through thy grace I shall return. It may be, if thou continuest thy patience towards me while longer, there may be `some better fruit produced by this cumberer of the ground.' (Luke 13:7) And may the remembrance of that long forbearance which thou hast already exercised towards me prevent my continuing to trifle with thee, and with my soul! From this day, O Lord, from this hour, from this moment, may I be able to date more lasting impressions of religion than have ever yet been made upon my heart by all that I have ever read, or all that I have heard. Amen."

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Chapter IV.

THE SINNER ARRAIGNED AND CONVICTED.

1. Conviction of guilt necessary.--2. A charge of rebellion against God advanced.--3. Where it is shown--that all men are born under God's law.--4. That no man hath perfectly kept it.--5. An appeal to the reader's conscience on this head, that he hath not.--6. That to have broken it, is an evil inexpressibly great.--7. Illustrated by a more particular view of the aggravations of this guilt, arising--from knowledge.--8. From divine favors received.--9. From convictions of conscience overborne.--10. From the strivings of God's Spirit resisted.--11.. From vows and resolutions broken.--12. The charges summed up, and left upon the sinner's conscience.--The sinner's confession under a general conviction of guilt.

1. AS I am attempting to lead you to true religion and not merely to some superficial form of it, I am sensible I can do it no otherwise than in the way of deep humiliation. And therefore supposing you are persuaded, through the divine blessing on what you have before read, to take it into consideration, I would now endeavor, in the first place, with all the seriousness I can, to make you heartily sensible of your guilt before God. For I well know, that, unless you are convinced of this, and affected with the conviction, all the provisions of Gospel grace will be slighted, and your soul infallibly destroyed, in the midst of the noblest means appointed for its recovery. I am fully persuaded that thousands live and die in a course of sin, without feeling upon their hearts any sense that they are sinners, though they cannot, for shame, but own it in words. And therefore let me deal faithfully with you, though I may seem to deal roughly; for complaisance is not to give law to addresses in which the life of your soul is concerned.

     2. Permit me therefore, O sinner, to consider myself at this time as an advocate for God, as one employed in his name to plead against thee and to charge thee with nothing less than being a rebel and a traitor against the Sovereign Majesty or heaven and earth. However thou mayest be dignified or distinguished among men; if the noblest blood run in thy veins; if thy seat were among princes, and thine arm were "the terror of the mighty in the land of the living," (Ezek. 32:27) it would be necessary thou shouldst be told plainly, thou hast broken the laws of the King of kings and by the breach of them art become obnoxious to his righteous condemnation.

     3. Your conscience tells you that you were born the natural subject of God, born under the indispensable obligations of his law. For it is most apparent that the constitution of your rational nature, which makes you capable of receiving law from God, binds you to obey it. And it is equally evident and certain that you have not exactly obeyed this law, nay, that you have violated it in many aggravated instances.

     4. Will you dare to deny this? Will you dare to assert your innocence? Remember, it must be a complete innocence; yea, and a perfect righteousness too, or it can stand you in no stead, farther than to prove, that, though a condemned sinner, you are not quite so criminal as some others, and will not have quite so hot a place in hell as they. And when this is considered, will you plead not guilty to the charge? Search the records of your own conscience, for God searcheth them: ask it seriously, "Have you never in your life sinned against God?" Solomon declared, that in his days "there was not a just man upon earth, who did good and sinned not;" (Eccl. 7:20) and the apostle Paul, "that all had sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23) "that both Jews and Gentiles (which you know, comprehend the whole human race) were all under sin." (Rom. 3:9) And can you pretend any imaginable reason to believe the world is grown so much better since their days, that any should now plead their own case as an exception? Or will you, however, presume to arise in the face of the omniscient Majesty of heaven, and say, I am the man?

     5. Supposing, as before, you have been free from those gross acts of immorality which are so pernicious to society that they have generally been punishable by human laws; can you pretend that you have not, in smaller instances, violated the rules of piety, of temperance, and charity? Is there any one person, who has intimately known you, that would not be able to testify you had said or done something amiss! Or if others could not convict you, would not your own heart do it! Does it not prove you guilty of pride, of passion, of sensuality, of an excessive fondness of the world and its enjoyments? of murmuring, or at least of secretly repining against God, under the strokes of an afflictive providence; of misspending a great deal of your time; abusing the gifts of God's bounty to vain, if not, in some instances, to pernicious purposes; of mocking him when you have pretended to engage in his worship, "drawing near to him with your mouth and your lips while your heart has been far front him?" (Isa. 29:13) Does not conscience condemn you of some one breach of the law at least? And by one breach of it you are, in a sense, a Scriptural sense, "become guilty of all," (Jam. 2:19) and are as incapable of being justified before God, by any obedience of your own, as if you had committed ten thousand offences. But, in reality, there are ten thousand and more chargeable to your account. When you come to reflect on all your sins of negligence, as we as on those of commission; on all the instances in which you have "failed to do good when it was in the power of your hand to do it;" (Prov. 3:27) on all the instances in which acts of devotion have been omitted, especially in secret; and on all those cases in which you have shown a stupid disregard to the honor of God, and to the temporal and eternal happiness of your fellow-creatures: when all these, I say, are reviewed, the number will swell beyond all possibility of account, and force you to cry out, "Mine iniquities are more than the hairs of my head." (Psal. 40:12) They will appear in such a light before you, that your own heart will charge you with countless multitudes; and how much more, "then, that God, who is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things!" (1 John 3:20)

     6. And say, sinner, is it a little thing that you have presumed to set light by the authority of the God of heaven, and to violate his law, if it had been by mere carelessness and inattention? How much more heinous, therefore, is the guilt, when in an many instances you hare done it knowingly and willfully! Give me leave seriously to ask you, and let me entreat you to ask your own soul, "Against whom hast thou magnified thyself? Against whom hast thou exalted thy voice," (2 Kings 19:22) or "lifted up thy rebellious hand?" On whose law, O sinner, hast thou presumed to trample? and whose friendship, and whose enmity, hast thou thereby dared to affront! Is it a man like thyself that thou host insulted? Is it only a temporal monarch--only one "who can kill thy body, and then hath no more that he can do?" (Luke, 12:4)

     Nay, sinner, thou wouldst not have dared to treat a temporal prince as thou hast treated the "King Eternal, Immortal," and "Invisible." (1 Tim. 1:17) No price could have hired thee to deal by the majesty of an earthly sovereign, as thou bast dealt by that God before whom the cherubim and seraphim are continually bowing. Not one opposing or complaining, disputing or murmuring word is heard among all the celestial legions, when the intimations of his will are published to them. And who art thou, O wretched man! who art thou, that thou shouldst oppose him? That thou shouldst oppose and provoke a God of infinite power and terror, who needs but exert one single act of his sovereign will, and thou art in a moment stripped of every possession; cut off from every hope; destroyed and rooted up from existence, if that were his pleasure; or, what is inconceivably conceivably worse, consigned over to the severest and most lasting agonies? Yet this is the God whom thou hast offended, whom thou hast affronted to his nice, presuming to violate his express laws in his very presence. This is the God before whom thou standest as a convicted criminal; convicted not of one or two particular offenses, but of thousands and ten thousands; of a course and series of rebellion and provocations, in which thou hast persisted more or less ever since thou want born, and the particulars of which have been attended with almost every conceivable circumstance of aggravation. Reflect on particulars, and deny the charge if you can.

     7. If knowledge be an aggravation of guilt, thy guilt, O sinner, is greatly aggravated! For thou wast born in Emmanuel's land, and God hath "written to thee the great things of his law," yet "thou hast accounted them as a strange thing." (Hos. 8:12) Thou hast "known to do good, and hast not done it;" (James 4:17) and therefore to thee the omission of it has been sin indeed. "Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard?" (Isa. 30:28) Wast thou not early taught the will of God? Hast thou not since received repeated lessons, by which it has been inculcated again and again, in public and in private, by preaching and reading the word of God? Nay, hath not thy duty been in some instances so plain, that, even without any instruction it all, thine own reason might easily have inferred at? And hast thou not also been warned of the consequences of disobedience? Hast thou not "known the righteous judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death?" Yet, thou hast, perhaps, "not only done the same, but hast had pleasure in those that do them;" (Rom. 1:32) hast chosen them for thy most intimate friends and companions; so as hereby to strengthen, by the force of example and converse, the hands of each other in your iniquities.

     8. Nay more, if Divine love and mercy be any aggravation of the sins committed against it, thy crimes, O sinner, are heinously aggravated. Must thou not acknowledge it, O foolish creature and unwise! Hast thou not been "nourished and brought up by him as his child, and yet hast rebelled against him?" (Isa. 1:2) Did not God "take you out of the womb?" (Psal. 22:9) Did he not watch over you in your infant days, and guard you from a multitude of dangers which the most careful parent or nurse could not have observed or warded off? Has he not given you your rational powers? and is it not by him you have been favored with every opportunity of improving them? Has he not every day supplied your wants with an unwearied liberality, and added, with respect to many who will read this, the delicacies of life to its necessary supports? Has he not "heard you cry when trouble came upon you?" (Job 27:9) and frequently appeared for your deliverance, when in the distress of nature you have called upon him for help? Has be not rescued you from ruin, when it seemed just ready to swallow you up; and healed your diseases, when it seemed to all about you, that the residue of your days was cut off in the midst? (Psal. 102:24) Or, if it has not been so, is not this long-continued and uninterrupted health, which you have enjoyed for so many years, to be acknowledged as an equivalent obligation? Look around upon all your possessions, and say, what one thing have you in the world which his goodness did not give you, and which he hath not thus far preserved to you? Add to all this, the kind notice of his will which he hath sent you; the tender expostulations which he hath used with you, to bring you to a wiser and better temper; and the discoveries and gracious invitations of his Gospel which you have heard, and which you have despised; and then say, whether your rebellion has not been aggravated by the vilest ingratitude, and whether that aggravation can be accounted small?

     9. Again, if it be any aggravation of Sin to be committed against conscience, thy crimes, O sinner! have been so aggravated. Consult the records of it, and then dispute the fact if you can. "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding;" (Job 32:8) and that understanding will act, and a secret conviction or being accountable to its Maker and Preserver is inseparable from the actings of it. It is easy to object to human remonstrances, and to give things false colorings before him; but the heart often condemns, while the tongue excuses. Have you not often found it so? Has not conscience remonstrated against your past conduct, and have not these remonstrances been very painful too! I have been assured, by a gentleman of undoubted credit, that, when he was in the pursuit of all the gayest sensualities of life, and was reckoned one of the happiest of mankind, he has seen a dog come into the room where he was among his merry companions, and has groaned inwardly and said, "O! that I had been that dog!" And hast thou, O sinner, felt nothing like this? Has thy conscience been so stupified, so "seared with a hot iron," (1 Tim. 4:2) that it has never cried out for any of the violences which have been done it? Has it never warned thee of the fatal consequences of what thou hast done in opposition to it? These warnings are, in effect, the voice of God; they are the admonitions which he gave thee by his vicegerent in thy breast. And when his sentence for thy evil works is executed upon thee in everlasting death, thou shalt hear that voice speaking to thee again in a louder tone and a severer accent than before; and thou shalt be tormented with its upbraiding through eternity, because thou wouldst not, in time, hearken to its admonitions.

     10. Let me add farther, if it be any aggravation that sin has been committed after God has been moving by his Spirit on the mind, surely your sin has been attended with that aggravation too. Under the Mosaic dispensation, dark and imperfect as it was, the Spirit strove with the Jews else Stephen could not have charged it upon them, that through all their generations "they had always resisted him." (Acts 7:51) Now, surely, we may much more reasonably apprehend that he strives with sinners under the Gospel. And have you never experienced any thing of this kind, even when there has been no external circumstance to awaken you, nor any pious teacher near you? Have you never perceived some secret impulse upon your mind, leading you to think of religion, urging you to an immediate consideration or it, sweetly inviting you to make trial of it, and warning you, that you would lament this stupid neglect? O sinner, why were not these happy motions attended to? Why did you not, as it were, spread out all the sail of your soul to catch that heavenly, that favorable breeze? But you have carelessly neglected it: you have overborne these kind influences. How reasonably then might the sentence have gone forth in righteous displeasure, "My Spirit shall no more strive." (Gen. 6:3) And indeed who can say that it is not already gone forth? If you feel no secret agitation of mind, no remorse, no awakening while you read such a remonstrance as this, there will be room, great room to suspect it.

     11. There is indeed one aggravation more, which may not attend your guilt--I mean that of being committed against solemn covenant engagements: a circumstance which has lain heavy on the consciences of many, who perhaps in the main series of their lives have served God with great integrity. But let me call you to think to what this is owing. Is it not that you have never personally made any solemn profession of devoting yourself to God at all--have never done any thing which has appeared to your own apprehension an act by which you have made a covenant with him, though you have heard so much of his covenant, though you have been so solemnly and so tenderly invited to it? And in this view, how monstrous must this circumstance appear, which at first was mentioned as some alleviation of guilt! Yet I must add that you are not, perhaps, altogether so free from guilt on this head as you may at first imagine. Has your heart been, even from your youth, hardened to so uncommon a degree that you have never cried to God in any season of danger and difficulty? And did you never mingle vows with those cries? Did you never promise, that, if God would hear and help you in that hour of extremity, you would forsake your sins, and serve him as long as you lived? He heard and helped you, or you had not been reading these lines; and, by such deliverance, did as it were bind down your vows upon you; and therefore your guilt, in the violation of them, remains before him, though you are stupid enough to forget them. Nothing is forgotten, nothing is overlooked by him; and the day will come, when the record shall be laid before you too.

     12. And now, O sinner, think seriously with thyself what defence thou wilt make to all this. Prepare thine apology; call thy witnesses; make thine appeal from him whom thou hast thus offended, to some superior judge, if such there be. Alas! those apologies are so weal: and vain, that one of thy fellow-worms may easily detect and confound them; as I will endeavor presently to show thee. But thy foreboding conscience already knows the issue. Thou art convicted, convicted of the most aggravated offences. Thou "hast not humbled thine heart, but lined up thyself against the Lord of heaven," (Dan. 5:22,23) and "thy sentence shall come forth from his presence." (Psal. 17:2) Thou hast violated his known laws; thou hast despised and abused his numberless mercies; thou hast affronted conscience, his vicegerent in thy soul; thou hast resisted and grieved his Spirit; thou hast trifled with him in all thy pretended submissions; and, in one word, and that his own, "thou hast done evil things as thou couldst." (Jer. 3:5) Thousands are no doubt already in hell whose guilt never equaled thine; and it is astonishing that God hath spared there to read this representation of thy case, or to make any pause upon it. O waste not so precious a moment, but enter attentively, and as humbly us thou canst, into these reflections which suit a case so lamentable and so terrible as thine.

     Confession of a Sinner convinced in general of his Guilt.

     "O God! thou injured Sovereign, thou all-penetrating and Almighty Judge! what shall I say to this charge! Shall I pretend I am wronged by it, and stand on the defence in thy presence? I dare not do it; for `thou knowest my foolishness, and none of my sins are hid from thee.' Psal. 69:5) My conscience tells me that a denial of my crimes would only increase them, and add new fuel to the fire of thy deserved wrath. `If I justify myself, mine own mouth will condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it will also prove me perverse;' (Job 9:20) `for innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up: they are,' as I have been told in thy name, `more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.' (Psal. 40:12) I am more guilty than it is possible for another to declare or represent. My heart speaks more than any other accuser. And thou, O Lord, art much greater than my heart, and knowest all things. (1 John 3:20)

     "What has my life been but a course of rebellion against thee? It is not this or that particular action alone I have to lament. Nothing has been right in its principles, and views, and ends. My whole soul has been disordered. All my thoughts, my affections, my desires, my pursuits have been wretchedly alienated from thee. I have acted as if I had hated thee, who art infinitely the loveliest of all beings; as if I had been contriving how I might tempt thee to the uttermost, and weary out thy patience, marvelous as it is. My actions have been evil, my words yet more evil than they! and, O blessed God, my heart, how much more corrupt than either! What an inexhausted fountain of sin has there been in it! A fountain of original corruption, which mingled its bitter streams with the days of early childhood; and which, alas! flows on even to this day, beyond what actions or words could express. I see this to have, been the case with regard to what I can particularly survey. But, oh! how many months and years have I forgotten, concerning which I only know this in the general, that they are much like those I can remember; except it be, that I have been growing worse and worse, and provoking thy patience more and more, though every new exercise of it was more and more wonderful.

     "And how am I astonished that thy forbearance is still continued! it is because thou art `God, and not man.' (Hos. 11:9) Had I, a sinful worm, been thus injured, I could not have endured it. Had I been a prince, I had long since done justice on any rebel whose crimes had borne but a distant resemblance to mine. Had I been a parent, I had long since cast off the ungrateful child who had made me such a return as I have all my life long been making to thee, O thou Father of my spirit! The flame of natural affection would have been extinguished, and his sight and his very name would have become hateful to me. Why then, O Lord, am I not `cast out from thy presence?' (Jer. 52:3) Why am I not sealed up under an irreversible sentence of destruction! That I live, I owe to thine indulgence. But, oh! if there be yet any way of deliverance, if there be yet any hope for so guilty a creature, may it be opened upon me by thy Gospel and thy grace! And if any farther alarm, humiliation, or terror be necessary to my security and salvation, may I meet them and bear them all! Wound my heart, O Lord, so that thou wilt but afterwards `heal it;' and break it in pieces, if thou wilt but at length condescend to bind it up." (Hos.6:1)

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Chapter V.

THE SINNER STRIPPED OF HIS VAIN PLEAS.

1,2. The vanity of those pleas which sinners may secretly confide in, is so apparent that they will be ashamed at last to mention them before God.--3. Such as, that they descended from pious us parents.--4. That they had attended to the speculative part of religion.--5. That they had entertained sound notion..--6. 7. That they had expressed a zealous regard to religion, and attended the outward forms of worship with those they apprehended the purest churches.--8. That they had been free from gross immoralities.--9. That they did not think the consequences of neglecting religion would have been so fatal.-- 10. That they could not do otherwise then they did.--11. Conclusion. With the meditation of a convinced sinner giving up his vain pleas before God.

1. MY last discourse left the sinner in very alarming and very pitiable circumstances; a criminal convicted at the bar of God, disarmed of all pretences to perfect innocence and sinless obedience, and consequently obnoxious to the sentence of a holy law, which can make no allowance for any transgression, no not for the least; but pronounces death and a curse against every act of disobedience: how much more then against those numberless and aggravated acts of rebellion, of which, O sinner! thy conscience hath condemned thee before God? I would hope Some of my readers will ingenuously fall under the conviction, and not think of making any apology; for sure I am, that, humbly to plead guilty at the divine bar, is the most decent, and, all things considered, the most prudent thing that can be done in such an unhappy state. Yet I know the treachery and the self-flattery of a sinful and corrupted heart. I know what excuses it makes, and how, when it is driven from one refuge, it flies to another, to fortify itself against conviction, and to persuade, not merely another, but itself, "That if it has been in some instances to blame, it is not quite so criminal as was represented; that there are at least considerations that plead in its favor, which, if they cannot justify, will in some degree excuse." A secret reserve of this kind, sometimes perhaps scarcely formed into a distinct reflection, breaks the force of conviction, and often prevents that deep humiliation before God which is the happiest token of approaching deliverance. I will therefore examine into some of these particulars; and for that purpose would seriously ask thee, O sinner! what thou hast to offer in arrest or judgment? What plea thou canst urge for thyself; why the sentence of God should not go forth against thee, and why thou shouldst not fall into the hands of his justice?

     2. But this I must premise, that the question is not; how wouldst thou answer to me, a weak sinful worm like thyself, who am shortly to stand with thee at the same bar? and "the Lord grant that I may find mercy of the Lord in that day," (2 Tim. 1:18) but, what wilt thou reply to thy Judge? What couldst thou plead, if thou wast now actually before his tribunal, where, to multiply vain words, and to frame idle apologies, would be but to increase thy guilt and provocation? Surely, the very thought of his presence must supersede a thousand of those trifling excuses which now sometimes impose on "a generation that are pure in their own eyes," though they "are not washed from their filthiness!" (Prov. 30:12) or while they are conscious of their impurities, "trust in words that cannot profit," (Jer 7:8) and "lean upon broken reeds." (Isa. 36:6)

     3. You will not to be sure, in such a condition, plead "that you are descended from pious parents." That was indeed your privilege; and wo be to you that you have abused it, and "forsaken the God of your fathers." (2 Chron. 7:22) Ishmael was immediately descended from Abraham, the friend of God, and Esau was the son of Isaac, who was born according to the promise: yet you know they were both cut off from the blessing to which they apprehended they had a kind of hereditary claim. You may remember that our Lord does not only speak of one who would call "Abraham father," who "tormented in flames," (Luke 16:24) but expressly declares that many of the children of the kingdom shall be shut out of it; and when others come from the most distant parts to sit down in it, shall be distinguished from their companions in misery only by louder accents of lamentation, and more furious "gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:11,12)

     4. Nor will you then presume to plead "that you had exercised your thoughts about the speculative parts of religion." For to what end can this serve, but to increase your condemnation? Since you have broken God's law, since you have contradicted the most obvious and apparent obligations of religion, to have inquired into it, and argued upon it, is a circumstance that proves your guilt more audacious. What! did you think religion was merely an exercise of men's wit, and the amusement of their curiosity? If you argued about it on the principles of common sense, you must have judged and proved it to be a practical thing; and if it was so, why did yen not practice accordingly? You knew the particular branches of it; and why then did you not attend to every one of them? To have pleaded an unavoidable ignorance would have been their happiest plea that could have remained for you; nay, an actual, though faulty ignorance, would have been some little allay of your guilt. But if; by your own confession, you have "known your Master's will, and have not done it," you bear witness against yourself, that you deserve to be "beaten with many stripes." (Luke, 12:47)

     5. Nor yet, again, will it suffice to say "that you have had right notions both of the doctrines and the precepts of religion." Your advantage for practicing it was therefore the greater; but understanding and acting right can never go for the same thing in the judgment of God or of man. In "believing there is one God," you have done well; but the "devils also believe and tremble." (Jam. 2:19) In acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God and the Holy One, you have done well too; but you know the unclean spirits made this very orthodox confession; (Luke 4:34,41) and yet they are "reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude, ver. 6) And will you place any secret confidence in that which might be pleaded by the infernal spirits as well as by you?

     6. But perhaps you may think of pleading that "you have actually done something in religion." Having judged what faith was the soundest, and what worship the purest, "you entered yourself into those societies where such articles of faith were professed, and such forms of worship were practiced: and among these you have signalized yourself by exactness of your attendance, by the zeal with which you have espoused their cause, and by the earnestness with which you have contended for such principles and practices." O sinner! I much fear that this zeal of thine about the circumstantials of religion will swell thine account, rather than be allowed in abatement of it. He that searches thine heart knows from whence it arose, and how far it extended. Perhaps be sees that it was all hypocrisy, an artful veil under which thou wast carrying on thy mean designs for this world, while the sacred name of God and religion were profaned and prostituted in the basest manner: and if so, thou art cursed with a distinguished curse for so daring an insult on the Divine omniscience as well as justice. Or perhaps the earnestness with which you have been "contending for the faith and worship which was once delivered to the saints," (Jude, ver. 3) or which, it is possible, you may have rashly concluded to be that, might be mere pride and bitterness of spirit; and all the zeal you have expressed might possibly arise from a confidence of your own judgment, from an impatience of contradiction, or some secret malignity of spirit, which delighteth itself in condemning, and even in worrying others; yea, which, if I may be al1owed the expression, fiercely preys upon religion, as the tiger upon the lamb, to turn it into a nature most contrary to its own. And shall this screen you before the great tribunal? Shall it not rather awaken the displeasure it is pleaded to avert?

     7. But say that this zeal for notions and forms has been ever so well intended, and, so far as it has gone ever so well conducted too; what will that avail toward vindicating thee in so many instances or negligence and disobedience as are recorded against thee in the book of God's remembrance? Were the revealed doctrines of the Gospel to be earnestly maintained, (as indeed they ought) and was the great practical purpose for which they were revealed to be forgot? Was the very mint, and anise, and cummin to be tithed; and were "the weightier matters of the law to be omitted," (Matt. 23:23) even that love to God which is its "first and great command?" (Matt. 22:38) O! how wilt thou be able to vindicate even the justest sentence thou hast passed on others for their infidelity, or for their disobedience, without being "condemned out of thine own mouth?" (Luke 19:22)

     8. Will you then plead "your fair moral character, your works of righteousness and of mercy?" Had your obedience to the law of God been complete, the plea might be allowed as important and valid. But I have supposed, and proved above, that conscience testifies to the contrary; and you will not now dare to contradict it. I add farther, had these works of yours, which you now urge, proceeded from a sincere love to God, and a genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you would not have thought of pleading them any otherwise than as an evidence of your interest in the Gospel-covenant and in the blessings of it, procured by the righteousness and blood of the Redeemer; and that faith, had it been sincere, would have been attended with such deep humility, and with such solemn apprehensions of the Divine holiness and glory, that, instead of pleading any works of your own before God, you would rather have implored his pardon for the mixture of sinful imperfection attending the very best of them. Now, as you are a stranger to this humbling and sanctifying principle, (which here in this address I suppose my reader to be) it is absolutely necessary you should be plainly and faithfully told, that neither sobriety, nor honesty, nor humanity will justify you before the tribunal of God, when he "lays judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet," (Isa. 28:17) and examines all your actions and all your thoughts with the strictest severity. You have not been a drunkard, an adulterer, or a robber. So far it is well. You stand before a righteous God, who will do you ample justice, and therefore will not condemn you for drunkenness, adultery, or robbery; but you have forgotten him, your Parent and your Benefactor; you have "cast off fear, and restrained prayer before him;" (Job 15:4) you have despised the blood of his Son, and all the immortal blessings that he purchased with it. For this, therefore, you are judged, and condemned. And as for any thing that has looked like virtue and humanity in your temper and conduct, the exercise of it has in great measure been its own reward, if there were any thing more than form and artifice in it; and the various bounties of Divine Providence to you, amidst all your numberless provocations, have been a thousand times more than an equivalent for such defective and imperfect virtues as these. You remain therefore chargeable with the guilt of a thousand offences, for which you have no excuse, though there are some other instances in which you did not grossly offend. And those good works in which you have been so ready to trust, will no more vindicate you in his awful presence, than a man's kindness to his poor neighbors would be allowed as a plea in arrest of judgment, when he stood convicted of high treason against his prince.

     9. But you will, perhaps, be ready to say, "you did not expect all this: you did not think the consequences of neglecting religion would have been so fatal." And why did you not think it? Why did you not examine more attentively and more impartially? Why did you suffer the pride and folly of your vain heart to take up with such superficial appearances, and trust the light suggestions of your own prejudiced mind against the express declaration of the word of God? Had you reflected on his character as the supreme Governor of the world, you would have seen the necessity of such a day of retribution as we are now referring to. Had you regarded the Scripture, the divine authority of which you professed to believe, every page might have taught you to expect it. "You did not think of religion!" and of what were you thinking when you forgot or neglected it? Had you so much employment of another kind? Of what kind, I beseech you! What end could you propose, by any thing else, of equal moment? Nay, with all your engagements, conscience will tell you that there have been seasons when, for want of thought, time and life have been a burden to you; yet you guarded against thought as against an enemy, and cast up, as it were, an entrenchment of inconsideration around you on every side, as if it had been to defend you from the most dangerous invasion. God knew you were thoughtless, and therefore he sent you "line upon line, and precept upon precept," (Isa. 28:10) in such plain language that it needed no genius or study to understand it. He tried you too with afflictions as well as with mercies, to awaken you out of your fatal lethargy; and yet, when awakened, you would lie down again upon the bed of sloth. And now, pleasing as your dreams might be, "you must lie down in sorrow." (Isa. 50:11) Reflection has at last overtaken you, and must be heard as a tormentor, since it might not be heard as a friend.

     10. But some may perhaps imagine that one important apology is yet unheard, and that there may be room to say, "you were, by the necessity of your nature, impelled to those things which are now charged upon you as crimes; and that it was not in your power to have avoided them, in the circumstances in which you were placed." If this will do any thing, it indeed promises to do much--so much that it will amount to nothing. If I were disposed to answer you upon the folly and madness of your own principles. I might say that the same consideration which proves it was necessary for you to offend, proves also that it is necessary for God to punish you; and that, indeed, he cannot but do it: and I might farther say with an excellent writer, "that the same principles which destroy the injustice of sins, destroy the injustice of punishment too." But if you cannot admit this; if you should still reply, in spite of principle, that it must be unjust to punish you for an action utterly and absolutely unavoidable, I really think you would answer right. But in that answer you will contradict your own scheme, as I observed above; and I leave your conscience to judge what sort of a scheme that must be which would make all kind of punishment unjust; for the argument will on the whole be the same, whether with regard to human punishment or divine. It is a scheme full of confusion and horror. You would not, I am sure, take it from a servant who had robbed you and then fired your house; you would never inwardly believe that he could not have helped it or think that he had fairly excused himself by suck a plea; and I am persuaded you would be so far from presuming to offer it to God at the great day, that you would not venture to turn it into a prayer even now. Imagine that you saw a malefactor dying with such words as these in his mouth: "O God! it is true I did indeed rob and murder my fellow-creatures; but thou knowest, that, as my circumstances were ordered, I could not do otherwise; my will was irresistibly determined by the motives which thou didst set before me, and I could as well have shaken the foundations of the earth, or darkened the sun in the firmament, as have resisted the impulse which bore me on." I put it to your conscience whether you would not look on such a speech as this with detestation, as one enormity added to another. Yet, if the excuse would have any weight in. your mouth, it would have equal weight in his; or would be equally applicable to any, the most shocking occasions. But indeed it is so contrary to the plainest principles of common reason, that I can-hardly persuade myself that any one could seriously and thoroughly believe it; and should imagine my time very ill employed here if I were to set myself to combat those pretences to argument by which the wantonness of human wit has attempted to varnish it over.

     11. You-see then, on the whole, the vanity of all your pleas; and how easily the most plausible or them might be silenced by a mortal man like yourself; how much more then by Him who searches all hearts, and can; in a moment, flash in upon the conscience a most powerful and irresistible conviction? What then can you do, while you stand convicted in the presence of God? What should you do, but hold your peace under an inward sense of your inexcusable guilt, and prepare yourself to hear the sentence which his law pronounces against you? You must feel the execution of it, if the Gospel does not at length deliver you; and you must feel something of the terror of it before you can be excited to seek to that Gospel for deliverance.

The Meditation of a convinced Sinner giving up his vain pleas before God.<

     "Deplorable condition to which I am indeed reduced! I hare sinned, and `what shall I say unto thee, O thou Preserver of men?' (Job 7:20) What shall I dare to say? Fool that I was, to amuse myself with such trifling excuses as these, and to imagine they could have any weight in thy tremendous presence, or that I should be able so much as to mention them there. I cannot presume to do it. I am silent and confounded: my hopes, alas! are slain, and my soul itself is ready to die too, so far as an immortal soul can die; and I am almost ready to say, O that it could die entirely! I am indeed a criminal in the hands of justice, quite disarmed, and stripped of the weapons in which I trusted. Dissimulation can only add provocation to provocation. I will therefore plainly and freely own it. I have acted as if I thought God was `altogether such a one as myself:' but he hath said, `I will reprove thee; I will set thy sins in order before thine eyes;' (Psal. 50:21) will marshal them in battle array. And, oh! what a terrible kind of host do they appear! and how do they surround me beyond any possibility of an escape! O my soul they have, as it were, taken thee prisoner, and they are bearing thee away to the divine tribunal.

     "Thou must appear before it! thou must see the awful, the eternal Judge, who `tries the very reins,' (Jer. 27:10) and who needs no other evidence, for he has `himself been witness to all thy rebellion.' (Jer. 29:23) Thou must see him, O my soul! sitting in judgment upon thee; and, when He is strict to `mark iniquity,' (Psal. 130:8) how wilt thou `answer him for one of a thousand!' (Job 9:3) And if thou canst not answer him, in what language will he speak to thee! Lord, as things at present stand, I can expect no other language than that or condemnation. And what a condemnation is it! Let me reflect upon it! Let me read my sentence before I hear it finally and irreversibly passed. I know he has recorded it in his word, and I know, in the general, that the representation is made with gracious design. I know that be would have us alarmed, that we may not be destroyed. Speak to me, therefore, O God! while thou speakest not for the last time, and in circumstances when thou wilt hear me no more. Speak in the language of effectual error, so that it be not to speak me into final despair. And let thy word, however painful in its operation, be `quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.' (Heb. 4:12) Let me not vainly flatter myself let me not be left a wretched prey to those `who would prophecy smooth things to me,' (Isa. 30:10) till I am sealed up under wrath, and feel thy justice piercing my soul, and `the poison of thine arrows drinking up all my spirits.' (Job 6:4)

     "Before I enter upon the particular view, I know, in the general, that `it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.' (Heb. 10:31) O thou living God! in one sense I am already fallen into thine hands. I am become obnoxious to thy displeasure, justly obnoxious to it and whatever thy sentence may be, when it comes forth from thy presence (Psal. 17:2) I must condemn myself and justify thee. Thou canst not treat file with more severity than mine iniquities have deserved; and how bitter soever that cup of trembling may be (Isa. 51:17) which thou shalt appoint for me, I give judgment against myself, that I deserve `to wring out the very dregs of it.'" (Psal. 75:8)

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Chapter VI.

THE SINNER SENTENCED.

1,2.The sinner called upon to hear his sentence.--3. God's law does now in general pronounce a curse.--4. It pronounces death.--5. And being turned into hell.--6. The judgement day shall come.--7.8. The solemnity of that grand process described according to scriptural representations of it.--9. With a particular illustration of the sentence, "Depart, accursed," &c.--10. The execution wilt certainly and immediately follow.--11. The sinner warned to prepare for enduring it. The reflection of a sinner struck with the terror of his sentence.

1. HEAR, O sinner! and I will speak (Job 42:4.) yet once more, as in the name of God, of God thine Almighty Judge, who, if thou dost not attend to his servants, will, ere long, speak unto thee in a more immediate manner, with an energy and terror which thou shalt not be able to resist.

     2. Thou hast been convicted, as in his presence. Thy pleas have been overruled, or rather they have been silenced. It appears before God, it appears to thine own conscience that thou hast nothing more to offer in arrest of judgment; therefore hear thy sentence, and summon up, if thou canst, all the powers of thy soul to bear the execution of it. "It is," indeed, a very small thing "to be judged of man's judgment;" but "he who now judgeth thee is the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:3,4) Hear, therefore, and tremble, while I tell thee how he will speak to thee; or rather, while I show thee, from express Scripture, how he doth even now speak, and what is the authentic and recorded sentence of his word, even of his word who hath said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one tittle of my word shall ever pass away." (Matt. 5:18)

     3. The law of God speaks not to thee alone, O sinner! nor to thee by any particular address; but in a most universal language it speaks to all transgressors, and levels its terrors against all offences, great or small, without any exception. And this is its language: "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:10) This is its voice to the whole world; and this it speaks to thee. Its awful contents are thy personal concern, O reader! and thy conscience knows it. Far from continuing in all things that are written therein to do them, thou canst not but be sensible that "innumerable evils have encompassed thee about." (Psa. 40:12) It is then manifest thou art the man whom it condemns: thou art even now "cursed with a curse," as God emphatically speaks, (Mal 3:9.) with the curse of the Most High God; yea, "all the curses which are written in the book of the law" are pointed against thee. (Deut. 29:20) God may righteously execute any of them upon thee in a moment; and though thou at present feelest none of them, yet, if infinite mercy do not prevent, it is but a little while and they will "come into thy bowels like water," till thou art burst asunder with them, and shall penetrate "like oil into thy bones." (Psa. 109:18)

     4. Thus saith the Lord, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek. 18:4) But thou hast sinned, and therefore thou art under a sentence of death. And, O unhappy creature, of what a death! What will the end of these things be? That the agonies of dissolving nature shall seize thee, and thy soul shall be torn away from thy languishing body, and thou "return to the dust from whence thou wast taken." (Psal. 104:29) This is indeed one awful effect of sin. In these affecting characters has God, through all nations and all ages of men, written the awful register and memorial of his holy abhorrence of it, and righteous displeasure against it. But, alas! all this solemn pomp and horror of dying is but the opening of the dreadful scene. It is a rough kind of stroke, by which the fetters are knocked off when the criminal is led out to torture and execution.

     5. Thus saith the Lord, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that forget God." (Psal. 9:17) Though there be whole nations of them, their multitudes and their power shall be no defence to them. They shall be driven into hell together--into that flaming prison which divine vengeance hath prepared-into "Tophet, which is ordained of old, even for royal sinners" as well as for others; so little can any human distinction protect! "He hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, shall kindle it;" (Isa. 30:33) and the flaming torrent shall flow in upon it so fast, that it shall be turned into a sea of liquid fire; or, as the Scripture also expresses it, "a lake burning with fire and brimstone" for ever. (Rev. 21:8) "This is the second death," and the death to which thou, O sinner! by the word of God art doomed;

     6. And shall this sentence stand upon record in vain! Shall the law speak it, and the Gospel speak it? and shall it never be pronounced more audibly? and will God never require and execute the punishment? He will O sinner! require it; and he will execute it, though he may seem for a while to delay. For well dost thou know that "he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the" whole "world in righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained, of which he hath given assurance in having raised him from the dead." (Acts 17.31) And when God judgeth the world, O reader! whoever thou aft, he will judge thee. And while I remind thee of it, I would also remember that he will judge me. And "knowing the terror of the Lord," (2 Cor 5:11) that I may "deliver my own soul," (Ezek. 33:9) I would, with all plainness and sincerity, labor to deliver thine.

     7. I therefore repeat the solemn warning: Then, O sinner! shalt "stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." (2 Cor. 5:10) Thou shalt see that pompous appearance, the description of which is grown so familiar to thee that the repetition of it makes no impression on thy mind. But surely, stupid as thou now art, the shrill trumpet of the archangel shall shake thy very soul: and if nothing else can awaken and alarm thee, the convulsions and flames of a dissolving world shall do it.

     8. Dost thou really think that the intent of Christ's final appearance is only to recover his people from the grave, and to raise them to glory and happiness? Whatever assurance thou hast that there shall be "a resurrection of the just," thou hast the same that there shall also be "a resurrection or the unjust;" (Acts, 24:15) that "he shall separate" the rising dead "one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats," (Matt. 25:32) with equal certainty, and with infinitely greater ease. Or can you imagine that he will only make an example of some flagrant and notorious sinners, when it is said that "all the dead," both "small and great," shall "stand before God;" (Rev. 20:12) and that even "he who knew not his Master's will," and consequently seems of all others to have had the fairest excuse for his omission to obey it, yet even "he," for that very omission, "shall be beaten," though "with fewer stripes?" (Luke 12:48) Or can you think that a sentence, to be delivered with so much pomp and majesty, a sentence by which the righteous judgment of God is to be revealed, and to have its most conspicuous and final triumph, will be inconsiderable, or the punishment to which it shall consign the sinner be slight or tolerable? There would have been little reason to apprehend that, even if we had been left barely to our own conjectures what that sentence should be. But this is far from being the case: our Lard Jesus Christ, in his infinite condescension and compassion, has been pleased to give us a copy of the sentence, and no doubt a most exact copy; and the words which contain it are worthy of being inscribed on every heart. "The King," amidst all the splendor and dignity in which he shall them appear, "shall say unto those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" (Matt. 25:34) And "where the word of a king is, there is power" indeed. (Eccles. 8:4) And these words have a power which may justly animate the heart of the humble Christian under the most overwhelming sorrow, and may fill him "with joy unspeakable and fall of glory." (1 Pet. 1:8) To be pronounced the blessed of the Lord! to be called to a kingdom! to the immediate, the everlasting inheritance of it; and of such a kingdom! so well prepared, so glorious, so complete, so exquisitely fitted for the delight and entertainment of such creatures, so formed and so renewed that it shall appear worthy the eternal counsels of God to have contrived it, worthy his eternal love to have prepared it, and to have delighted himself with the views of bestowing it upon his people: behold a blessed hope indeed! a lively, glorious hope, to which we are "begotten again by the resurrection of Christ from the dead," (I Pet.1:3) and formed by the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God upon our minds. But it is a hope from which thou, O sinner! art at present excluded; and methinks that it might be grievous to reflect, "These gracious words shall Christ speak to some, to multitudes--but not to me; on me there is no blessedness pronounced; for me there is no kingdom prepared." But is that all? Alas! sinner, our Lord hath given thee a dreadful counterpart to this. He has told us what he will say to thee, if thou continuest what thou art--to thee, and all the nations of the impenitent and unbelieving world, be they ever so numerous, be the rank of particular criminals ever so great. He shall say to the "kings of the earth" who have been rebels against him, to "the great and rich men, and the chief captains and the mighty men," as well as to "every bondman and every freeman" or inferior rank, (Rev. 9:15) "Depart front me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. 25:41) Oh! pause upon these weighty words, that thou mayest enter into something of the importance of them.

     9. He will say, "Depart:" you shall be driven from his presence with disgrace and infamy: "from him," the source of life and blessedness, in a nearness to whom all the inhabitants of heaven continually rejoice; you shall "depart," accursed: you have broken God's law, and its curse falls upon you; and you are and shall he under that curse, that abiding curse; from that day forward you shall be regarded by God and all his creatures as an accursed and abominable thing, as the most detestable and the most miserable part of the creation. You shall go "into fire;" and, oh! consider into what fire! Is it merely into one fierce blaze which shall consume you in a moment, though with exquisite pain? That were terrible. But, oh! such terrors are not to be named with these. Thine, sinner, "is everlasting fire." It is that which our Lord hath in such awful terms described as prevailing there, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched;" and again, in wonderful compassion, a third time, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," (Mark 9:44, 46, 48) Nor was it originally prepared or principally intended for you: it was "prepared for the devil and his angels;" for those first grand rebels who were, immediately upon their fall, doomed to it: and since you have taken part with them in their apostacy, you must sink with them into that flaming ruin, and sink so much the deeper, as you have despised the Savior, who was never offered to them. These must be your companions and your tormentors, with whom you must dwell forever. And is it I that say this? or says not the law and the Gospel the same? Does not the Lord Jesus Christ expressly say, who is the "faithful and true witness," (Rev. 3:14) even he who himself is to pronounce the sentence?

     10. And when it is thus pronounced, and pronounced by him, shall it not also be executed? Who could imagine the contrary? Who could imagine there should be all this pompous declaration to fill the mind only with vain terror, and that this sentence should vanish into smoke? You may easily apprehend that this would be a greater reproach to the Divine administration than if sentence were never to be passed. And therefore we might easily have inferred the execution of it, from the process of the preceding judgment. But lest the treacherous heart of a sinner should deceive him with so vain a hope, the assurance of that execution is immediately added in very memorable terms. It shall be done: it shall immediately be done. Then on that very day, while the sound of it is yet in their ears, "the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment;" (Matt. 25:46) and thou, O reader! whoever thou art, being found in their number, shalt go away with them; shalt be driven on among all these wretched multitudes and plunged with them into eternal ruin. The wide gates of hell shall be open to receive thee: they shall be shut upon thee for ever, to enclose thee, and be fast barred by the Almighty hand of divine justice, to prevent all hope, all possibility of escape for ever.

     11. And now "prepare" thyself "to meet the Lord thy God." (Amos 4:12) Summon up all the resolution of thy mind to endure such a sentence such an execution as this: for "he will not meet thee as a man;" (Isa. 47:36) whoseheart may sometimes fail him when about to exert a needful act of severity, so that compassion may prevail against reason and justice. No, he will meet thee as a God, whose schemes and purposes are all immovable as iris throne. I therefore testify to thee in his name this day, that if God be true, he will thus speak; and that if he be able, he will thus act. And on supposition of thy continuance in thine impenitence and unbelief, thou art brought into this miserable case, that if God be not either false or weak, thou art undone, thou art eternally undone.

The Reflection of a Sinner struck with the Terror of his Sentence.

     "Wretch that I am, What shall I do, or whither shall I flee? `I arm weighed in the balance, and and found wanting.' (Dan. 5:27) This is indeed my doom; the doom I am to expect from the mouth of Christ himself, from the mouth of him that died for the redemption and salvation of men. Dreadful sentence! and so much the more dreadful when considered in that view! To what shall I look to save me from it? To whom shall I call? Shall I say to the rocks, fall upon me, and to the hills, cover me? (Luke 23:30) What should I gain by that? Were I indeed overwhelmed with rocks and mountains, they could not conceal me from the notice of his eye; and his hand could reach me with as much ease there as any where else.

     "Wretch indeed that I am! O that I had never been born! O that I had never known the dignity and prerogative of the rational nature? Fatal prerogative indeed, that renders me obnoxious to condemnation and wrath! O that I had never been instructed in the will of God at all rather than that, being thus instructed, I should have disregarded and transgressed it! Would to God I had been allied to the meanest of the human race, to them that come nearest to the state of the brutes, rather than that I should have had my lot in cultivated Life, amidst so many of the improvements of reason, and (dreadful reflection!) amidst so many of the advantages of religion tool and thus to have perverted all to my own destruction! O that God would take away this rational soul! but, alas! it will live for ever, will live to feel the agonies of eternal death. Why have I seen the beauties and glories of a world like this, to exchange it for that flaming prison! Why have I tasted so many of my Creator's bounties, to wring out at last the dregs of his wrath! Why have I known the delights of social life and friendly converse, to exchange them for the horrid company of devils and damned spirits in hell! Oh! `who can dwell with them in devouring flames? who can lie down' with them `in everlasting, everlasting, everlasting burnings?' (Isa. 33:14)

     "But whom have I to blame in all this but my-self? What have I to accuse but my own stupid incorrigible folly? On what is all this terrible ruin to be charged, but on this one fatal, cursed cause that having broken God's law. I rejected his Gospel too;

     "Yet stay, O my soul, in the midst of all these doleful foreboding complaints. Can I say that I have finally rejected the Gospel? Am I not to this day under the sound of it? The sentence is not yet gone forth against me in so determinate a manner as to be utterly irreversible. Through all this gloomy prospect one ray of hope breaks in, and it is possible I may yet be delivered.

     "Reviving thought! Rejoice in it, O my soul! though it be with trembling, and turn immediately to that God, who, though provoked by ten thousand offences, has not yet 'sworn in his wrath that thou shalt never be permitted to hold further intercourse with him., or to `enter into his rest' (Psal. 95 11)

     "I do then, O blessed Lord! prostrate myself in the dust before thee, I own I am a condemned and miserable creature. But my language is that of the humble publican, `God be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18:13) Some general and confused apprehensions I have of a way by which I may possibly escape. O God, whatever that way is, show it me, I beseech thee! Point it out so plainly that I may not be able to mistake it! And. oh! reconcile my heart to it, be it ever so humbling, be it ever so painful!

     "Surely, Lord, I have much to learn; but be thou my teacher! Stay for a little moment thine uplifted hand, and in thine infinite compassion delay the stroke till I inquire a little farther how I may finally avoid it!"

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Chapter VII.

THE HELPLESS STATE OF THE SINNER UNDER CONDEMNATION.

1.2. The sinner urged to consider how he can be saved from this impending ruin.--3 Not by any thing he can offer.--4. Nor by any thing he can endure.--5 Nor by any thing hr can do in the course of future duty.--6-8. Nor by any alliance with fellow-sinners on earth or in hell.--9. Nor by any interposition or intercession of angels or saints in his favor. Hint of the only method to be afterwards more largely explained. The lamentation of a sinner in this miserable condition.

1. SINNER, thou hast heard the sentence of God as it stands upon record in his sacred and immutable word; and wilt thou lie down under its in everlasting despair? wilt thou make no attempt to be delivered from it, when it speaks nothing less than eternal death to thy soul? If a criminal, condemned by human laws, has but the least shadow of hope that he may escape, he is all attention to it. If there be a friend who be thinks can help him, with what strong importunity does be entreat! the interposition of that! friend? And even while he is before the judge. how difficult is it! often to force him away from the bar, while the cry of mercy, mercy, mercy, may be heard, though it be never so unseasonable? A mere possibility that it may make some eager in it, and unwilling to be silenced and removed.

     2. Wilt thou not then, O Sinner! ere yet execution is done, that execution which may perhaps be done this very day, wilt thou not cast about in thy thoughts what measures may be taken for deliverance? Yet what measures can be taken? Consider attentively, for it is an affair of moment. Thy wisdom, thy power, thy eloquence, thy interest can never he exerted on a greater occasion. If thou canst help thyself, do it. If thou hast any secret source of relief, go not out of thyself for other assistance. If thou hast any sacrifice to offer, if thou hast any strength to exert; yea, if thou hast any allies on earth, or in the invisible world, who can defend or deliver thee, take thy own way, so that thou mayest but be delivered at all, that we may not see thy ruin. But say, O sinner! in the presence of God, what sacrifice thou wilt present, what strength thou wilt exert, what allies thou wilt have recourse to on so urgent, so hopeless an occasion. For hopeless I must indeed pronounce it, if such methods are taken.

     3. The justice of God is injured; hast thou any atonement to make to it? If thou wast brought to an inquiry and proposal, like that of an awakened sinner, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?" (Mic. 6:6,7) Alas! wert thou as great a prince as Solomon himself and couldst thou indeed purchase such sacrifices as these, there would be no room to mention them. "Lebanon would not be sufficient to burn, nor all the beasts thereof for a burnt-offering." (Isa. 40:18) Even under that dispensation which admitted and required sacrifices in some cases, the blood of bulls and of goats, though it exempted the offender from farther temporal punishment, "could not take away sin," (Heb. 10:4) nor prevail by any means to purge the conscience in the sight of God. And that soul that had "done aught presumptuously" was not allowed to bring any sin-offering, or trespass-offering at all, but was condemned to "die without mercy." (Num. 15:30) Now God and thine own conscience know that thine offences have not been merely the errors of ignorance and inadvertency, but that thou hast sinned with a high hand in repeated aggravated instances, as thou hast acknowledged already. shouldst thou add, with the wretched sinner described above, "Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Mic. 6:7) What could the blood of a beloved child do in such a case, but dye thy crimes so much the deeper and add a yet unknown horror to them? Thou hast offended a Being of infinite majesty; and if that offence is to be expiated by blood, it must be another kind of blood than that which flows in the veins of thy children, or in thine own.

     4. Wilt thou then suffer thyself till thou hast made full satisfaction? But how shall that satisfaction be made? Shall it be by any calamities to be endured in this mortal, momentary life? Is the justice of God then esteemed so little a thing, that the sorrows of a few days should suffice to answer its demands? Or dost thou think of future sufferings in the invisible world? If thou dost, that is not deliverance; and with regard to that, I may venture to say, when thou hast made full satisfaction, thou wilt be released; when thou hast paid the uttermost farthing of that debt, thy prison-doors shall be opened; but in the mean time thou must "make thy bed in hell:" (Psa. 139:8) and, oh! unhappy man, wilt thou lie down there with a secret hope that the moment will come when the rigor of Divine justice will not be able to inflict any thing more than thou hast endured, and when thou mayest claim thy discharge as a matter of right? It would indeed be well for thee if thou couldst carry down with thee such a hope, false and flattering as it is; but, alas! thou wilt see things in so just a light, that to have no comfort but this will be eternal despair. That one word of thy sentence, "everlasting fire;" that one declaration, "the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," will be sufficient to strike such a thought into black confusion, and to over-whelm thee with hopeless agony and horror.

     5. Or do you think that your future reformation and diligence in duty for the time to come will procure your discharge from this sentence? Take heed, sinner, what kind of obedience thou thinkest of offering to a holy God. That must be spotless and complete which his infinite sanctity can approve and accept, if he consider thee in thyself alone: there must be no inconstancy, no forgetfulness, no mixture of sin attending it. And wilt thou, enfeebled as thou art by so much original corruption and so many sinful habits contracted by innumerable actual transgressions, undertake to render such an obedience, and that for all the remainder or thy life! In vain wouldst thou attempt it, even for one day. New guilt would immediately plunge thee into new ruin. But if it did not, if from this moment to the very end of thy life all were as complete obedience as the law of God required from Adam in Paradise, would that be sufficient to cancel past guilt? Would it discharge an old debt, that thou hast not contracted a new one? Offer this to thy neighbor, and see if he will accept it for payment; and if he will not, wilt thou presume to offer it to thy God?

     6. But I will not multiply words on so plain a subject. While I speak thus, time is passing away death presses on, and judgment is approaching. And what can save thee from these awful scenes, or what can protect thee in them? Can the world save thee--that vain delusive idol of thy wishes and suits, to which thou alt sacrificing thine eternal hopes? Well dost thou know that it will utterly forsake thee when thou needest it most; and that not one of its enjoyments can be carried along with thee into the invisible state, no, not so much as a trifle to remember it by, if thou couldst desire to remember so inconstant and so treacherous a friend as the world has been.

     7. And when you are dead, or when you are dying, can your sinful companions save you? Is there any one of them, if he were ever so desirous of doing it, that "can give unto God a ransom for you," (Psa. 49:7) to deliver you from going down to the grave, or from going down to hell? Alas! you will probably be so sensible of this, that when you lie on the borders of the grave you will be unwilling to see or to converse with those that were once your favorite companions. They will afflict you rather than relieve you, even then; how much less can they relieve you before the bar of God, when they arc overwhelmed with their own condemnation!

     8. As for the powers of darkness, you are sure they will he far from having any ability or inclination to help you. Satan has been watching and laboring for your destruction, and he will triumph in it. But if there could he any thing of an amicable confederacy between you, what would that be but an association in ruin? For the day of judgment of ungodly men will also be the judgment of these rebellious spirits; and the fire into which thou, O sinner, must depart, is that which was "prepared for the devil and his angels."" (Matt. 25:41)

     9. Will the celestial spirits then save thee? Will they interpose their power or their prayers in thy favor? An interposition of power, when sentence is gone forth against thee, were an act of rebellion against heaven, which these holy and excellent creatures would abhor. And when the final pleasure of the Judge is known, instead of interceding in vain for the wretched criminal, they would rather, with ardent zeal for the glory of their Lord, and cordial acquiescence in the determination of his wisdom and justice, prepare to execute it. Yea, difficult as it may at present be to conceive it, it is a certain truth, that the servants of Christ, who now most tenderly love you, and most affectionately seek your salvation, not excepting those who are allied to you in the nearest bonds of nature or of friendship, even they shall put their amen to it. Now indeed their bowels yearn over you, and their eyes pour out tears on your account. Now they expostulate with you, and plead with God for you, if by any means, while yet there is hope, you may "be plucked as a firebrand out of the burning." (Amos 4:11) But, alas! their remonstrances you will not regard; and as for their prayers, what should they ask for you? What but that you may see yourself to be undone; and that utterly despairing of any help from yourself, or from any created power, you may lie before God in humility and brokenness of heart; that, submitting yourself to his righteous judgment and in an utter renunciation of all self-dependence and of all creature dependence, you may lift up an humble look towards him, as almost from the depths of hell, if peradventure he may have compassion upon you, and may himself direct you to that only method of rescue, which, while things continue as in present circumstances they are, neither earth, nor hell, nor heaven can afford you.

The Lamentation of a Sinner in this miserable Condition.

     "O! doleful, uncomfortable, helpless state! O wretch that I am, to have reduced myself to it! Poor, empty, miserable, abandoned creature! Where is my pride and the haughtiness of my heart? Where are my idol deities. `whom I have loved and served, after whom I have walked, and whom I have sought,' (Jer. 8:2) while I have been multiplying my transgressions against the majesty of heaven? Is there no heart to have compassion upon me? Is there no hand to save me? `Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O my friends, for the hand of God bath touched me;' (Job, 19:21) hath seized me! I feel it pressed upon me hard, and what shall I do? Perhaps they have pity upon me; but, alas! how feeble a compassion! Only, if there be any where in the whole compass of nature any help, tell me where it may be found! O point it out, direct me toward it; or rather, confounded and astonished as my mind is, take me by the hand and lead me to it!

     "O ye ministers of the Lord, whose office it is to guide and comfort distressed souls, take pity upon me! I fear I am a pattern of many other helpless creatures who have the like need of your assistance. Lay aside your other cares to care for my soul, to care for this precious soul of mine, which lies as it were bleeding to death, (if that expression may be used) while you perhaps hardly afford me a look, or, glancing an eye upon me, `pass over to the other side.' (Luke 10:32) Yet, alas! in a case like mine, what can your interposition avail if it be alone: `If the Lord do not help me, how can you help me?' (2 Kin. 6:27)

     "'O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh,' (Num. 16:22) I lift up mine eyes unto thee, and `cry unto thee as out of the belly of hell.' (Jon., 2:2) I cry unto thee, at least from the borders of it. Yet, while I lie before thee in this infinite distress, I know that thine Almighty power and boundless grace can still find out a way for my recovery.

     "Thou art he whom I have most of all injured and affronted; and yet from thee alone must I now seek redress. `Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight;' so that `thou mightest- be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest,' (Psa. 51:4) though thou shouldst at this moment adjudge me to eternal misery. And yet I find something that secretly draws me to thee, as if I might find rescue there, where I have deserved the most aggravated destruction. Blessed God, I `have destroyed myself; but in thee is my help,' (Hos. 13:9) if there can be help at all.

     "I know, in the general, that `thy ways are not as our ways, nor thy thoughts as our thoughts;' but are as `high above them as the heavens are above the earth.' (Isa. 55:8,9) `Have mercy,' therefore, `upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies!' (Psa. 51:1) O point out the path to the city of refuge! O `lead me' thyself `in the way everlasting!' (Psa. 139:24) I know, in the general, that thy Gospel is the only remedy: O teach thy servants to administer it! O prepare my heart to receive it! and suffer not, as in many instances, that malignity which has spread itself through all my nature, to turn that noble medicine into poison!"<

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Chapter VIII.

NEWS OF SALVATION BY CHRIST BROUGHT TO THE CONVINCED AND CONDEMNED SINNER.

1. The awful things which have hitherto been said, intended not to grieve, but to help.--2. After some reflection on the pleasure with which a minister of the Gospel may deliver at message with which he is charged.--3.And some reasons for the repetition of what is in speculation so generally known.--4. 6. The author proceeds briefly to declare the substance of these glad tidings: viz. that God having in his infinite compassion sent his Son to die for sinners, is now reconcilable through him.--7.8. So that the most heinous transgressions shall be entirely pardoned to believers, and they made completely and eternally happy. The sinner's reflection on this good news.

1. My dear reader, it is the great design of the Gospel, and wherever it is cordially received, it is the glorious effect of it, to fill the heart with sentiments of love; to teach us to abhor all unnecessary rigor and severity, and to delight not in the grief but in the happiness of our fellow-creatures. I can hardly apprehend how he can be a Christian who takes pleasure in the distress which appears even in a brute, much less in that of a human mind; and especially in such distress as the thoughts I have been proposing must give, if there be any due attention to their weight and energy. I have often felt a tender regret while I have been representing these things; and I could have wished from my heart that it had not been necessary to have placed them in so severe and so painful a light. But now I am addressing myself to a part of my work which I undertake with unutterable pleasure, and to that which indeed I had in view in all those awful things which I have already been laying before you. I have been showing you, that, if you hitherto have lived in a state of impenitence and sin, you are condemned by God's righteous judgment, and have in yourself no spring or hope and no possibility of deliverance. But I mean not to leave you under this sad apprehension, to lie down and die in despair, complaining of that cruel zeal which has "tormented you before your time." (Matt. 8:29)

     2. Arise, O thou dejected soul, that art prostrate in the dust before God, and trembling under the terror of his righteous sentence; for I am commissioned to tell thee, that, though "thou hast destroyed thyself, in God is thine help." (Hos. 13:9) I bring thee "good tidings of great joy," (Luke 2:10) which delight mine own heart while I proclaim them, and will, I hope, reach and revive thine--even the tidings of salvation by the blood and righteousness of the Redeemer. And I give it thee for thy greater security, in the words of a gracious and forgiving God, that "he is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing to them their trespasses." (2 Cor. 5:19)

     3. This in the best news that ever was heard, the most important message which God ever sent to his creatures; and though I doubt not that, living as you have done in a Christian country, you have heard it often, perhaps a thousand and a thousand times; I will, with all simplicity and plainness, repeat it to you again, and repeat it as if you bad never heard it before. If thou, O sinner, shouldst now for the first time feel it, then will it be as a new Gospel unto thee, though so familiar to thine ear; nor shall it be "grievous to me" to speak what is so common, "since to you it is safe" and necessary. (Phil. 3:1) They who are most deeply and intimately acquainted with it, instead of being cloyed and satiated, wilt hear it with distinguished pleasure; and as for those who have hitherto slighted it, I am sure they had need to hear it again. Nor is it absolutely impossible that some one soul at least may read these lines who hath never been clearly and fully instructed in this important doctrine, though his everlasting all depends on knowing and receiving it. I will therefore take care that such a one shall not have it to plead at the bar of God, that, though he lived in a Christian country, he was never plainly and faithfully taught the doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth, and the life, by whom alone we come unto the Father." (John 14:6)

     4. I do therefore testify unto you this day, that the holy and gracious Majesty of heaven and earth, foreseeing the fatal apostacy into which the whole human race would fall, did not determine to deal in a way of strict and rigorous severity with us, so as to consign us over to universal ruin and inevitable damnation; but, on the contrary, he determined to enter into a treaty of peace and reconciliation, and to publish to all whom the Gospel should reach, the express offers of life and glory, in a certain method which his infinite wisdom judged suitable to the purity of his nature and the honor of his government. This method was indeed a most astonishing one, which, familiar as it is to our thoughts and our tongues, I cannot recollect and mention without great amazement. He determined to send his own Son into the world, "the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person," (Heb. 1:3) partaker of his own divine perfections and honors, to be, not merely a teacher of righteousness and a messenger of grace, but also a sacrifice for the sins of men; and would consent to his saving them on no other condition but this, that he should not only labor, but die in the cause.

     5. Accordingly, at such a period of time as infinite wisdom saw most convenient, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in human flesh; and after he had gone through incessant and long-continued fatigue, and borne all the preceding injuries which the ingratitude and malice of men could inflict, he voluntarily "submitted himself to death, even the death of the cross;" (Phil. 2:8) and having been "delivered for our offences, was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25) After his resurrection he continued long enough on earth to give his followers most convincing evidences of it, and then "ascended into heaven in their sight;" (Acts 1:9-11) and sent down his Spirit from thence unto his apostles, to enable them, in the most persuasive and authoritative manner, "to preach the Gospel;" and he has given it in charge to them, and to those who in every age succeed them in this part of their office, that it should be published "to every creature," (Mark 16:15) that all who believe in it may be saved by virtue of its abiding energy, and the immutable power and grace of its divine Author, who is "the same yesterday. today, and for ever." (Heb. 13:8)

     6. This Gospel do I therefore now preach and proclaim unto thee, O reader, with the sincerest desire that, through divine grace, it may "this very day be salvation to thy soul." (Luke 19:9) Know therefore and consider it, whosoever thou art, that as surely as these words are now before thine eyes, so sure it is that the incarnate Son of God was "made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men;" (1 Car. 4:9) his back torn with scourges, his head with thorns, his limbs stretched out as on a rack, and nailed to the accursed tree; and in this miserable condition he was hung by his hands and feet, as an object of public infamy and contempt. Thus did he die in the midst of all the taunts and insults of his cruel enemies, who thirsted for his blood; and, which was the saddest circumstance of all, in the midst of those agonies with which he closed the most innocent, perfect, and useful life that ever was spent on earth, he had not those supports of the divine presence which sinful men have often experienced when they have been suffering for the testimony of their conscience. They have often burst out into transports of joy and songs of praise, while their executioners have been glutting their hellish malice, and more than savage barbarity, by making their torments artificially grievous; but the crucified Jesus cried out, in the distress of his spotless and holy soul, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)

     7. Look upon your dear Redeemer! look up to this mournful, dreadful, yet, in one view, delightful spectacle! and then ask thine own heart, Do I believe that Jesus suffered and died thus? And why did he suffer and die? Let me answer in God's own words, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, that by his stripes we might he healed: it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and put him to grief, when he made his soul an offering for sin; for the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:5,6,10) So that I may address you in the words of the apostle, "Be it known unto you therefore, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins;" (Acts 13:38) as it was his command, just after he arose from the dead, "that repentance and remission of sins should be, preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," (Luke 24:47) the very place, where his blood had so lately been shed in such a cruel manner. I do thereby testify to you, in the words of another inspired writer, that Christ was made sin, that is, a sin offering, "for; though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him:" (2 Cor. 5:21) that is, that through the righteousness he has fulfilled, and the atonement he has made, we might be accepted by God as righteous, and be not only pardoned, but received into his favor. "To you is the word of this salvation sent," (Acts 13:26) and to you, O reader, are the blessings of it even now offered by God, sincerely rely offered; so that, after all that I have said under the former heads, it is not your having broken the law of God that shall prove your ruin, if you do not also reject his Gospel. It is not all those legions of sins which rise up in battle array against you that shall be able to destroy you, if unbelief do not lead them on, and final impenitency do not bring up the rear I know that guilt is a timorous thing; I wilt therefore speak in the words of God himself nor can any be more comfortable: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," (John 3:36) "and he shall never come into condemnation." (John 5:24) "There is therefore now no condemnation," no kind or degree of it, "to them," to any one of them, "who are in Jesus Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." (Rom. 8:1) You have indeed been a very great sinner, and your offences have truly been attended with most heinous aggravations; nevertheless you may rejoice in the assurance, that "where sin hath abounded, there shall grace much more abound; "that where sin bath reigned unto death," where it has had its most unlimited sway and most unresisted triumph, there "shall righteousness reign to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5:21) That righteousness, to which on believing on him thou wilt be entitled, shall not only break those chains by which sin is, as it were, dragging thee at its chariot-wheels with a furious pace to eternal ruin, but it shall clothe thee with the robes of salvation, shall fix thee on a throne of glory, where thou shalt live and reign for ever among the princes uf heaven, shalt reign in immortal beauty and joy. without one remaining scar of divine displeasure upon thee, without any single mark by which it could be known that thou hadst even been obnoxious to wrath and a curse, except it be an anthem of praise to "the Lamb that was slain, and has washed thee from thy sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1:5)

     8. Nor is it necessary, in order to thy being released from guilt, and entitled to this high and complete felicity, that thou shouldst, before thou wilt venture to apply to Jesus, bring any good works of thine own to recommend thee to his acceptance. It is indeed true, that, if thy faith be sincere, it will certainly produce them; but I have the authority of the word of God to tell thee that if thou this day sincerely believest in the name of the Son of God, thou shalt this day be taken under his care, and be numbered among those of his sheep to whom he hath graciously declared that "he will give eternal life, and that they shall never perish." (John 10:28) Thou hast no need therefore to say, "Who shall go up into heaven, or who shall descend into the deep for me? For the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart." (Rom. 10:6,7,8) With this joyful message I leave thee; with this faithful saying, indeed "worthy of all acceptation;" (1 Tim. l:15) with this Gospel, O sinner, which is my life; and which, if thou dost not reject, will be thine too.

The Sinner's Reflection on this Good News.

     "O my soul, how astonishing is the message which thou hast this day received! I have indeed often heard it before and it is grown so common to me, that the surprise is not sensible. But reflect, O my soul, what it is thou hast heard, and say whether the name of a Savior whose message it is, may not well be called `Wonderful, counsellor,' (Isa. 9:6) when he displays before thee such wonders of love, and proposes to thee such counsels of peace!

     "Blessed Jesus, is it indeed thus? Is it not the fiction of the human mind? Surely it is not! What human mind could have invented or conceived it? It is a plain, a certain fact, that thou didst leave the magnificence and joy of the heavenly world in compassion to such a wretch as I! Oh! hadst thou from that height of dignity and felicity only looked down upon me for one moment, and sent some gracious word to me for my direction and comfort, even by the least of thy servants, justly might I have prostrated myself in grateful admiration, and have kissed `the very footsteps' of him `that published the salvation.' (Isa. 52:7) But didst thou condescend to be thyself the messenger? What grace had that been, though thou hadst but once in person made the declaration, and immediately returned back to the throne from whence divine compassion brought thee down? But this is not all the triumph of thine illustrious grace. It not only brought thee down to earth, but kept thee here in a frail and wretched tabernacle, for long successive years; and at length it cost thee thy life, and stretched thee out as a malefactor upon the cross, after thou hadst borne insult and cruelty which it may justly wound my heart so much as to think of. And thus thou hast atoned injured justice, and `redeemed me to God with thine own blood.' (Rev. 5:9)

     "What shall I say! `Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!' (Mark 9:24) It seems to put faith to tile stretch, to admit what it indeed exceeds the utmost stretch of imagination to conceive. Blessed, for ever blessed be thy name, O thou Father of mercies, that thou hast contrived the way! Eternal thanks to the Lamb that was slain, and to that kind Providence that sent the word of this salvation to me! O let me not, for ten thousand worlds, `receive the grace of God in vain!' (2 Cor. 6:1) O impress this Gospel upon my soul, till its saving virtue be diffused over every faculty! Let it not only be heard, and acknowledged, and professed, but felt! Make it `thy power to my eternal salvation;' (Rom. 1:16) and raise me to that humble, tender gratitude, to that active, unwearied zeal in thy service, which becomes one `to whom so much is forgiven.' (Luke 7:47) and forgiven upon such terms as these.

     "I feel a sudden glow in mine heart while these tidings are sounding in mine ears; but, oh! let it not be a slight superficial transport! O let not this, which I would fain call my Christian joy, be as that foolish laughter, with which I have been so madly enchanted, `like the crackling blaze of thorns under a pot!' (Eccles. 7:6) O teach me to secure this mighty blessing, this glorious hope, in the method which thou hast appointed; and preserve me from mistaking the joy of nature, while it catches a glimpse of its rescue from destruction, for that consent of grace which embraces and ensures the deliverance!"

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Chapter IX.

A MORE PARTICULAR ACCOUNT OF THE WAY BY WHICH THIS SALVATION IS TO BE OBTAINED.

1. An inquiry into the way of salvation by Christ being supposed.--2. The sinner is in general directed to repentance and faith.--3. And urged to give up all self-dependence.--4. And to seek salvation by free grace.--5. A summary of more particular directions is proposed.--6. That the sinner should apply to Christ.--7. With a deep abhorrence of his former sins.--8. And a firm resolution of forsaking them.--9. That he solemnly commits his soul into the hands of Christ, the great vital act of faith.--10. Which is exemplified at large.--11. That he make it in fact the governing care of his future life to obey and imitate Christ.--12. This is the only method of obtaining Gospel salvation. The Sinner deliberating on the necessity of accepting it.

1. I now consider you, my dear reader, as coming to me with the inquiry which the Jews once addressed to our Lord, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (John 4:28) "What method shall I take to secure that redemption and salvation which I am told Christ has procured for his people?" I would answer it as seriously and carefully as possible, as one that knows of what importance it is to you to be rightly informed; and that knows also how strictly he is to answer to God for the sincerity and care with which the reply is made. May I be enabled to "speak as his oracle," (1 Pet. 4:11) that is in such a manner as faithfully to echo back what the sacred oracles teach!

     2. And here, that I may be sure to follow the safest guides and the fairest examples, I must preach salvation to you in the way of "repentance toward God, and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," (Acts 20:21) that good old doctrine which the apostles preached, and which no man can pretend to change but at the peril of his own souls and of theirs who attend to him.

     3. I suppose that you are by this time convinced of your guilt and condemnation, and of your own inability to recover yourself. Let me nevertheless urge you to feel that conviction yet more deeply, and to impress it with yet greater weight upon your soul; that you have "undone yourself," and that "in yourself is not your help found." (Hos. 13:9) Be persuaded, therefore, expressly, and solemnly, and sincerely, to give up all self-dependence; which, if you do not guard against it, will be ready to return secretly before it is observed, and will lead you to at-tempt building up what you have just been destroying.

     4. Be assured, that, if ever you are saved, you must ascribe that salvation entirely to the free grace of God. If, guilty and miserable as you are, you are not only accepted, but crowned, you must "lay down your crown," with all humble acknowledgment, "before the throne." (Rev. 4:10.) "No flesh must glory in his presence; but he that glorieth must glory in the Lord; for of him are we in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:29,30,31) And you must be sensible you are in such a state, as, having none of these in yourself; to need them in another. You must therefore be sensible that you are ignorant and guilty, polluted and enslaved; or, as our Lord expresses it, with regard to some who were under a Christian profession, that as a sinner "you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Rev. 3:17)

     5. If these views be deeply impressed upon your mind you will be prepared to receive what I am now to say. Hear, therefore, in a few words, your duty, your remedy, and your safety; which consists in this, "That you must apply to Christ, with a deep abhorrence of your former sins, and a firm resolution of forsaking them; forming that resolution in the strength of his grace, and fixing your dependence in him for your acceptance with God, even while you are purposing to do your very best, and when you have actually done the best you ever will do in consequence of that purpose.

     6. The first and most important advice that I can give you in your present circumstances, is, that you look to Christ and apply yourself to him. And here, say not in your heart, "who shall ascend into heaven, to bring him down to me?" (Rom. 10:6) or, "who shall raise me up thither, to present me before him?" The blessed "Jesus, by whom all things consist," (Col. 1:17) by whom the whole system of them is supported. "forgotten as he is by most that bear his name," "is not far from any of us;" (Acts 17:27) nor could he have promised to have been "wherever two or three are met together in his name," (Matt. 18:20) but in consequence of those truly divine perfections, by which he is every where present. Would you therefore, O sinner, desire to be saved? Go to the Savior. Would you desire to be delivered? Look to that great Deliverer; and though you should be overwhelmed with guilt, and shame, and fear, or horror, that you should be incapable of speaking to him, fall down in this speechless confusion at his feet, "and behold him as the Lamb or God, that taketh away the sins of the world." (John 1:29)

     7. Behold him therefore with an attentive eye, and say whether the sight does not touch, and even melt thy very heart! Dost thou not feel what a foolish and what a wretched creature thou hast been, that, for the sake of such low and sordid gratifications and interests as those which thou hast been pursuing thou shouldst thus "kill the Prince of Life?" (Acts 3:15) Behold the deep wounds which he bore for thee, "look on him whom thou hast pierced, and sorely thou must mourn," (Zech. 12:10) unless thine heart be hardened into stone. Which of thy past sins canst thou reflect upon, and say. "For this it is worth my while to have thus injured my Savior, and to have exposed the Son of God to such sufferings?" And what future temptations can arise so considerable that thou shouldst say. "For the sake of this I will crucify my Lord again?" (Heb. 6:6) Sinner, thou must repent, thou must repent of every sin, and must forsake it; but, if thou doest it to any purpose I well know it must be at the foot or the cross. Thou must sacrifice every lust, even the dearest, though it should be like a "right hand or a right eye;" (Matt. 5:29, 30) and therefore that thou mayest. if possible, be animated to it, I have led thee to that altar on which "Christ himself was sacrificed for thee an offering of a sweet smelling savor?" (Eph. 5:2) Thou must "yield up thyself to God as one alive from the dead." (Rom. 6:15) And therefore I have showed thee at what a price he purchased thee; "for thou wast not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Son of God, that Lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:18,19) And now I would ask thee, as before the Lord, what does thine own heart say to it? Art thou grieved for thy former offences? Art thou willing to forsake thy sins? Art thou willing to become the cheerful, thankful servant of him who hath purchased thee with his own blood?

     8. I will suppose such a purpose as this rising in thine heart. How determinate it is, and how effectual it may be, I know not; what different views may arise hereafter, or how soon the present sense may wear off. But this I assuredly know, that thou wilt never see reason to change these views; for however thou mayest alter, the "Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever." (Heb 13:8) And the reasons that now recommend repentance and faith as fit and necessary, will continue invariable as long as the perfections the blessed God are the same, and as long as his Son continues the same.

     9. But while you have these views and these purposes, I must remind you that this is not all which is necessary to your salvation. You must not only purpose, but, as God gives opportunity, you must act as those who are convinced of the evil of sin, and of the necessity and excellence of holiness. And that you may be enabled to do so in other instances, you must in the first place, and as the first great work of God, (as our Lord himself calls it) "believe in him whom God hath sent;" (John 6:29) you must, confide in him; must commit your soul into the hands of Christ to be saved by him in his own "appointed method of salvation." This is the great act of saving faith, and I pray God that you may experimentally know what it means, so as to be able to say with the apostle Paul, in the near view of death itself, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day;" (2 Tim. 1:12) that great decisive day, which, if we are Christians, we have always in view. To this I would urge you; and O that I could be so happy as to engage you to it while I am illustrating it in this and the following addresses! Be assured you must not apply yourself immediately to God absolutely, or in himself considered, in the neglect of a Mediator. It will neither be acceptable to him, nor safe for you, to rush into his presence without any regard to his own Son, whom he hath appointed to introduce sinners to him. And if you come otherwise, you come as one who is not a sinner. The very manner of presenting the address will be interpreted as a denial of that guilt with which he knows you are chargeable; and therefore he will not admit you, nor so much as look upon you. And accordingly our Lord, knowing how much every man living was concerned in this, says, in the most universal terms, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

     10. Apply therefore to this glorious Redeemer, amiable as be will appear to every believing eye in the blood which he shed upon the cross, and in the wounds which he received there. Go to him, O sinner! this day, this moment, with all thy sins about thee. Go just as thou art; for if thou wilt never apply to him till thou art first righteous and holy, thou wilt never be righteous and holy at all; nor canst be so on this supposition, unless there were some way of being so without him; and then there would be no occasion for applying to him for righteousness and holiness. It were indeed as if it should be said that a sick man should defer his application to a physician till his health is recovered. Let me therefore repeat it without offence, go to him just as thou art, and say, (O that thou mayest this moment be enabled to say it from thy very soul!) "Blessed Jesus, I am surely one of the most sinful and one of the most miserable creatures that ever fell prostrate before thee; nevertheless I come, because I have heard that thou didst once say, `Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' (Matt. 12:28) I come, because I have heard that thou didst graciously say, `Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.' (John 6:35) O thou Prince of Peace, O thou King of Glory!! I am a condemned, miserable sinner; I have ruined my own soul, and am condemned forever, if thou dost not help me and save me. I have broken thy Father's law and thine; for thou art `one with him.' (John 10:30) I have deserved condemnation and wrath; and I am, even at this very moment, under a sentence of everlasting destruction, a destruction which will he aggravated by all the contempt that I have cast upon thee, O thou bleeding Lamb of God! for I cannot and will not dissemble it before thee, that I have wronged thee, most basely and ungratefully wronged thee, under the character of a Savior as well as or a Lord. But now I am willing to submit to thee; and I have brought my poor trembling soul to lodge it in thine hands, if thou wilt condescend to receive it; and if thou dost not, it must perish. O Lord, I lie at thy feet: stretch out `thy golden scepter that I may live.' (Esth. 4:11) `Yea, if it please the King, let the life of my soul be given me at my petition!' (Esth. 8:3) I have no treasure wherewith to purchase it, I have no equivalent to give thee for it; but if that compassionate heart of thine can find a pleasure in saving one of the most distressed creatures under heaven, that pleasure thou mayest here find. O Lord, I have foolishly attempted to be my own savior, but it will not do. I am sensible the attempt is vain, and therefore I give it over, and look unto thee. On thee, blessed Jesus, who art sure and steadfast, do I desire to fix my anchor. On thee, as the only sure foundation, would I build my eternal hopes. To thy teaching, O thou unerring Prophet of the Lord, would I submit: be thy doctrines ever so mysterious, it is enough for me that thou thyself hast said it. To thine atonement, obedience, and intercession, O thou holy and ever-acceptable High Priest, would I trust. And to thy government, O thou exalted Sovereign, would I yield a willing, delightful subjection: in token of reverence and love, `I kiss the Son:' (Psa. 2:12) I kiss the ground before his feet. I admit thee, O my Savior! and welcome thee, with unutterable joy, to the throne in my heart. Ascend it and reign there for ever! Subdue mine enemies, O Lord, for they are thine; and make me thy faithful and zealous servant: faithful to death, and zealous to eternity."

     11. Such as this must be the language of your very heart before the Lord. But then remember, that, in consequence thereof it must be the language of your life too. The unmeaning words of the lips would be a vain mockery. The most affectionate transport of the passions, should it be transient and ineffectual, would be but like a blaze of straw, presented, instead of incense, at his altar. With such humility, with such love, with such cordial self-dedication and submission of soul must thou often prostrate thyself in the presence of Christ; and then thou must go away, and keep him in thy view; must go away, and live unto God through him, defying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and behaving thyself "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this vain ensnaring world." (Tit. 2:12) You must make it your care to show your love by obedience, by forming yourself, as much as possible, according to the temper and manner of Jesus, in whom you believe. You must make it the great point of your ambition, and a nobler view you cannot entertain, to be a living image of Christ; that, so far as circumstances will allow, even those who have heard and read but little of him may, by observing you, in some measure see and know what kind of a life that of the blessed Jesus was. And this must be your constant care, your prevailing character, as long as you live. You must follow him whithersoever he leads you; must follow with a cross on your shoulder, when he commands you to "take it up;" (Matt. 16:24) and so must be faithful even unto death, expecting "the crown of life." (Rev. 2:10)

     12. This, so far as I have been able to learn from the word of God, is the way to safety and glory: the surest, the only way you can take. It is the way which every faithful minister of Christ has trod, and is treading; and the way to which, as he tenders the salvation of his own soul, he must direct others. We cannot, we would not alter it in favor of ourselves, or of our dearest friends. It is the way in which alone, so far as we can judge, it becomes the blessed God to save his apostate creatures. And therefore, reader, I beseech and entreat you seriously to consider it; and let your own conscience answer, as in the presence of God, whether you are willing to acquiesce in it or not. But know, that to reject it is thine eternal death. For as "there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved," (Acts 4:12) but this of Jesus of Nazareth, so there is no other method but this in which Jesus himself will save us.

The Sinner deliberating on the Expediency of falling in with this Method of Salvation.

     "Consider, O my soul! what answer wilt thou return to such proposals as these? Surely, if I were to speak the first dictate of this corrupt and degenerate heart, it would be, `This is a hard saying, and who can hear it?' (John 6:60) To be thus humbled, thus mortified, thus subjected! To take such a yoke upon me, and to carry it as long as I live! To give up every darling lust, though dear to me as a right eye, and seemingly necessary as a right hand! To submit not only my life, but my heart, to the command and discipline of another! To have a master there, and such a master as will control many of its favorite affections, and direct them quite into another channel! a master, who himself represents his commands, by taking up the cross and following him! To adhere to the strictest rules of godliness and sobriety, of righteousness and truth; not departing from them in any allowed instance, great or small, upon any temptation, for any advantage, to escape any inconvenience and evil, no, not even for the preservation of life itself; but, upon a proper call of Providence, to act as if I `hated even my own life!' (Luke 14:26) Lord, it is hard to flesh and blood; and yet I perceive and feel there is one demand yet harder than this.

     "With all these precautions, with all these mortifications, the pride of my nature would find some inward source of pleasure, might I but secretly think that I had been my own savior, that my own wisdom and my own resolution had broken the bands and chains of the enemy, and that I had drawn out of my own treasures the price with which my redemption was purchased. But must I lie down before another, as guilty and condemned, as weak and helpless? And must the obligation be multiplied, and must a Mediator have his share too? Must I go to the cross for my salvation, and seek my glory from the infamy of that? Must I be stripped of every pleasing pretence to righteousness, and stand, in this respect, upon a level with the vilest of men; stand at the bar amongst the greatest criminals, pleading guilty with them, and seeking deliverance by that very act of grace whereby they have obtained it.

"I dare not deliberately say this method is unreasonable. My conscience testifies that I have sinned, and cannot be justified before God as an innocent and obedient creature. My conscience tells me that all these humbling circumstances are fit; that it is fit a convicted criminal should be brought upon his knees; that a captive rebel should give up the weapons of his rebellion and bow before his sovereign, if he expects his life. Yea, my reason as well as my conscience tells me that it is fit and necessary that, if I am saved at all, I should be saved from the power and love of sin, as well as from the condemnation of it; and that, if sovereign mercy gives me a new life, after having deserved eternal death, it is most fit I should `yield myself to God as alive from the dead.' (Rom. 6:13) But, `O wretched man that I am! I feel a law in my members that wars against the law of my mind,' (Rom. 7:23,24) and opposes the conviction of my reason and conscience. Who shall deliver me from this bondage? Who shall make me willing to do that which I know in my own soul to be most expedient? O Lord, subdue any heart, and let it not be drawn so strongly one way, while the nobler powers of my mind would direct it another! Conquer every licentious principle within, that it may be my joy to be so wisely governed and restrained! Especially subdue my pride that lordly corruption which so ill suits an impoverished and condemned creature, that thy way of salvation may be made amiable to me in proportion to the degree in which it is humbling! I feel a disposition to `linger in Sodom, but O be merciful to me, and pull me out of it,' (Gen. 19:16) before the storm of thy flaming vengeance fall, and there be no more escaping!"

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Chapter X.

THE SINNER SERIOUSLY URGED AND ENTREATED TO ACCEPT OF SALVATION IN THIS WAY.

1. Since many who have been impressed with these things suffer the impression to wear off.--2. Strongly as the ease speaks for itself, sinners are to be entreated to accept this salvation.--3. Accordingly the reader is entreated--by the majesty and mercy of God.--4. By the dying love of our Lord Jesus Christ.--5. By the regard due to our fellow-creatures.--6. By the worth of his own immortal soul.--7. The matter is solemnly left with the reader, as before God. The sinner yielding to these entreaties, and declaring his acceptance of salvation by Christ.

1. Thus far have I often known convictions and impressions to arise, (if I might judge by the strongest appearances) which after all have worn off again. Some unhappy circumstance of external temptation, ever joined by the inward reluctance of an unsanctified heart to this holy and humbling scheme of redemption, has been the ruin of multitudes. And, "through the deceitfulness of sin, they have been hardened," (Heb. 3:25) till they seem to have been "utterly destroyed, and that without remedy." (Prov. 29:1) And therefore, O thou immortal creature who art now reading these lines, I beseech thee, that, while affairs are in this critical situation, while there are these balancings of mind between accepting and rejecting that glorious Gospel, which, in the integrity of my heart, I have now been laying before you, you would once more give me an attentive audience while I plead, in God's behalf shall I say? or rather in your own; while, "as an ambassador for Christ, and as though God did beseech you by me, I pray you in Christ's stead that you would be reconciled to God," (2 Cor. 5:20) and would not, after these awakenings and these inquiries, by a madness which it will surely be the doleful business of a miserable eternity to lament, reject this compassionate counsel of God towards you.

     2. One would indeed imagine there should be no need of importunity here. One would conclude, that as soon as perishing sinners are told that an offended God is ready to be reconciled, that he offers them a full pardon for all their aggravated sins, yea, that he is willing to adopt them into his family now, that he may at length admit them to his heavenly presence; all should, with the utmost readiness and pleasure, embrace so kind a message, and fall at his feet in speechless transports of astonishment. gratitude, and joy. But, alas! we find it much otherwise. We see multitudes quite unmoved, and the impressions which are made on many more are feeble and transient. Lest it should be thus with you, O reader! let me urge the message with which I have the honor to be charged; let me entreat you to be reconciled to God, and to accept of pardon and salvation in the way in which it is so freely offered to you.

     3. I entreat you, "by the majesty of that God in whose name I come," whose voice fills all heaven with reverence and obedience. He speaks not in vain to legions of angels; but if there could be any contention among those blessed spirits, it would be, who should be first to execute his commands. Oh! let him not speak in vain to a wretched mortal I entreat you, "by the terrors of his wrath," who could speak to you in thunder; who could, by one single act of his will, cut off this precarious life of yours, and send you down to hell. I beseech you by his mercies, by his tender mercies, by the bowels of his compassion, which still yearn over you as those of a parent over "a dear son," over a tender child, whom, notwithstanding his former ungrateful rebellion, "he earnestly remembers still." (Jer. 31:20) I beseech and entreat you, "by all this paternal goodness," that you do not, as it were, compel him to lose the character of the gentle Parent in that of the righteous Judge; so that, as he threatens with regard to those whom he had just called his sons and his daughters, "a fire shall be kindled in his anger, which shall burn unto the lowest hell." (Deut 32:19,22)

     4. I beseech you further, "by the name and love of your dying Savior." I beseech you by all the condescension of his incarnation, by that poverty to which he voluntarily submitted, "that you might be enriched" with eternal treasures; (2 Cor. 8:9) by all the gracious invitations which he gave, which still sound in his word, and still coming, as it were, warm from his heart, are "sweeter than honey, or the honey-comb." (Psa. 19:10) I beseech you by all his glorious works of power and of wonder, which were also works of love. I beseech you by the memory of the most benevolent person and the most generous friend. I beseech you by the memory of what he suffered, as well as of what he said and did; by the agony which he endured in the garden when his body was covered "with a dew of blood." (Luke, 22:44) I beseech you by all that tender distress which he felt when his dearest friends "forsook hint and fled," (Matt. 26:56) and his blood-thirsty enemies dragged him away like the meanest of slaves, and like the vilest of criminals. I beseech you by the blows and bruises, by the stripes and lashes which this injured Sovereign endured while in their rebellious hands; by the shame of spitting, from which he hid not that kind and venerable countenance. (Isa. 50:6) I beseech you by the purple robe, the scepter of reed, and the crown of thorns which this King of Glory wore that he might set us among the princes of heaven. (Psa. 113:8) I beseech you by the heavy burden of "the cross," under which he panted, and toiled, and fainted in the painful way "to Golgotha," (John 19:17) that he might free us from the burden of our sins. I beseech you by the remembrance of those rude nails that tore the veins and arteries, the nerves and tendons of his sacred hands and feet; and by that invincible, that triumphant goodness, which, while the iron pierced his flesh, engaged him to cry out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke, 23:34) I beseech you by that unutterable anguish which he bore when lifted up upon the cross, and extended there, as on a rack, for six painful hours, that you open your heart to those attractive influences which have "drawn to him thousands and ten thousands." (John 12; 32) I beseech you by all that insult and derision which the "Lord of Glory bore there;" (Matt. 27:29-44) by that parching thirst which could hardly obtain the relief of "vinegar," (John 19:28,29) by that doleful cry so astonishing in the mouth of the only begotten of the Father, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46) I beseech you by that grace that subdued and pardoned "a dying malefactor;" (Luke, 23:42,43) by that compassion for sinners, by that compassion for you, which wrought in his heart, long as its vital motion continued, and which ended not when "he bowed his head, saying, It is finished, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30) I beseech you by the triumphs of that resurrection by which he was "declared to be the Son of God with power;" by the spirit of holiness which wrought to accomplish it, (Rom. 1:4) by that gracious tenderness which attempered all those triumphs, when he said to her out of whom he had cast seven devils, concerning his disciples who had treated him so basely, "Go, tell my brethren, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God." (John 20:17) I beseech you by that condescension with which he said to Thomas, when his unbelief had made such an unreasonable demand, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold mine hands, and reach hither thine hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20:27) I beseech you by that generous and faithful care of his people which he carried up with him to the regions of glory, and which engaged him to send down "his Spirit," in that rich profusion of miraculous gifts, to spread the progress of his saving word. (Acts 2:33) I beseech you by that voice of sympathy and power with which he said to Saul, while injuring his church, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4) by that generous goodness which spared that prostrate enemy when he lay trembling at his feet, and raised him to so high a dignity as to be "not inferior to the very chiefest apostles." (2 Cor. 12:11) I beseech you by the memory of all that Christ hath already done; by the expectation of all he will farther do for his people. I beseech you, at once, by the scepter of his grace, and by that sword of his justice with which all his incorrigible "enemies" shall be "slain before him," (Luke 19:20) that you do not trifle away these precious moments while his Spirit is this breathing upon you; that you do not lose an opportunity which may never return, and on the improvement of which your eternity depends.

     5. I beseech you "by all the bowels of compassion which you owe to the faithful ministers of Christ," who are studying and laboring, preaching and praying, wearing out their time, exhausting their strength, and very probably shortening their lives, for the salvation of your soul, and of souls like yours. I beseech you by the affection with which all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity long to see you brought back to him. I beseech you by the friendship of the living, and by the memory of the dead, by the ruin of those who have trifled away their days and perished in their sins, and by the happiness of those who have embraced the Gospel, and are saved by it. I beseech you by the great expectation of that important "day, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven;" (2 Thess. 1:7) by "the terrors of a dissolving world;" (2 Pet. 3:10) by the "sound of the archangel's trumpet," (1 Thess. 4:16) and of that infinitely more awful sentence, "Come, ye blessed," and "Depart, ye cursed," with which that grand solemnity shall close. (Matt. 25:34,41)

     6. I beseech you, finally, by your own precious and immortal soul; by the sure prospect of a dying bed, or of a sudden surprise into the invisible state and as you would feel one spark of comfort in your departing spirit, when your flesh and your heart are failing. I beseech you, by your own personal appearance before the tribunal of Christ, (for a personal appearance it must be, even to them who now sit on thrones of their own;) by all the transports of the blessed, and by all the agonies of the damned, then one or the other of which must be your everlasting portion. I affectionately entreat and beseech you, in the strength of all these united considerations, as you will answer it to me who may in that day be summoned to testify against you, and, which is unspeakably more, as you will answer it to your conscience, as you will answer it to the eternal Judge that you dismiss not these thoughts, these meditations, and these cares, till your have brought matters to a happy issue; till you have made resolute choice of Christ, and his appointed way of salvation; and till you have solemnly devoted yourself to God in the, bonds of an everlasting covenant.

     7. And thus I leave the matter before you, and before the Lord. I have told you my errand; I have discharged embassy. Stronger arguments I cannot use; more endearing and mores awful considerations I cannot suggest. Choose, therefore, whether you will go out, as it were clothed in sackcloth, to cast yourself at the feet of him who now sends you these equitable and gracious terms of peace and pardon; or whether you will hold it out till he appears sword in hand to reckon with you for your treasons and your crimes, and for this neglected embassy among the rest of them. Fain would I hope the best; nor can I believe that this labor of love shall be so entirely unsuccessful, that not one soul shall be brought to the foot of Christ in cordial submission and humble faith. "Take with you," therefore, "words, and turn unto the Lord;" (Hos. 14:2) and O that those which follow might, in effect at least, be the genuine language of every one that reads them.

Sinner yielding to these Entreaties, and declaring acceptance of Salvation by Christ.

     "Blessed Lord, it is enough! It is too much! Surely there needs not this variety of arguments this importunity of persuasion, to court me to be happy, to prevail on me to accept of pardon, of life, of eternal glory. Compassionate Savior, my soul is subdued; so that I trust the language of thy grief is become that of my penitence, and I may say, `my heart is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels.' (Psa. 22:14)

     "O gracious Redeemer! I have already neglected thee too long. I have too often injured thee: have crucified thee afresh by my guilt and impenitence, as if I had taken pleasure in `putting thee to an open shame.' (Heb. 6:6) But my heart now bows itself before thee in humble, unfeigned submission. I desire to make no terms with thee but these--that I may be entirely thine. I cheerfully present thee with a blank, entreating thee that thou will do me the honor to signify upon it what is thy pleasure. Teach me, O Lord, what thou wouldst have me to do; for I desire to learn the lesson, and to learn it that I may practice it. If it be more than my feeble powers can answer, thou wilt, I hope, give me more strength; and in that strength I will serve thee. O receive a soul which thou hast made willing to be thine!

     "No more, O blessed Jesus, no more is it necessary to beseech and entreat me. Permit me rather to address myself to thee with all the importunity of a perishing sinner, that at length sees and knows `there is salvation in no other' (Acts 4:12) Permit me now, Lord, to come and throw myself at thy feet like a helpless outcast that has no shelter but in thy gracious compassion! like one `pursued by the avenger of blood,' and seeking earnestly an admittance `into the city of refuge!' (Josh. 20:2,3)

     "'I wait for the Lord; my soul doth wait; and in thy word do I hope,' (Psa. 130:5) that thou wilt `receive me graciously.' (Hos. 14:2) My soul confides in thy goodness, and adores it. I adore the patience which has borne with me so long; and the grace that now makes me heartily willing to be thine: to be thine on thine own terms, thine on any terms. O secure this treacherous heart to thyself! O unite me to thee in such inseparable bonds, that none of the allurements of flesh and blood, none of the vanities of an ensnaring world, none of the solicitations of sinful companions, may draw me back from thee, and plunge me into new guilt and ruin! `Be surety, O Lord, for thy servant for good,' (Psa. 119:122) that I may stilt keep my hold on thee, and so on eternal life; till at length I know more fully, by joyful and everlasting experience, how complete a Savior thou art. Amen."

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© 1999 The Old Time Gospel Ministry
"When to seek God has become life and to glorify God has become self, then you have truly found God."