« PreviousContinue »
" the temple of the Lord are these? That true religion is an
hearts to the Lord ?'
Expectation 5. Fifthly, Your reason will expect, and exact it from you, that whenfoever you shall be convinced, that all these stirs and bustles that have been in the world, all this fin-. ing, imprisoning, and impoverishing your Protestant brethren and neighbours for their conscience fake, hath done the church no good, but given a great and real advantage to our common enemy, to ruin us together ; that we may distinguish; ourselves how we please in our folly, but they will never diftinguish us in their fury; for we are all known to them, by. one common name of Heretics.
In this case, your reason exacts it from you, and so doth the common reason of mankind, that a sense of common interest, and common danger, now quiet those feuds, and extinguish those fires, which our own lufts first kindled, and the devil and our common enemies have incensed, to the great damage and hazard of the whole Proteftant cause.
Such a seasonable and becoming sense as this, were in itself sufficient to cool a wise man's heats, if penal laws, were left ftanding in their full force and vigour : But when the wisdom and reason of the state shall plainly discern both the usefulness and necessity of liberty, and thereupon take away (as they have now most prudently and seasonably done) the further occafions of mischiefs to the whole, by relaxing the yoke that bound some (and those a very great body of třuly loyal and useful subjects) leaving the rest in the quiet poffeffion of their own liberties and properties; what shall we call that fire, which itill continues burning and increasing, not only after, but by all this, but an unquenchable hell-fire.
If chimera's, and self-created jealousies, are indulged, that Lome carnal interests of ours are not so well secured to us un,
der liberty, as they were under persecution and tyranny ; this will be the right way to perpetuate dissentions and persecutions to the end of the world.
And now, gentlemen, I hope I may fay, without being vain or opinionative, our reason hath fairly difarmed you of these pleas and excuses, by which you have hitherto defended yourselves in your most finful practices of profane cursing and swearing, drunkennefs, uncleanness, and bitter enmity against your Proteftant brethren, for things that touch not the eflence of Christianity.
And believe it, firs, it is truly genteel and glorious, to suffer yourselves to be fubdued and conquered by the plain convicti
yourown reason and conscience. It is ten thousand times ñore honourable and glorious to lay down your arms at the feet of these, than to lay down both reason and conscience at the feet of Satan and your lufts, and continue fighting obsti. nately against God, your own fouls, bodies, estates, reputations ; yea, your very reasons and consciences, your innocent brethren, and the peace of church and state, under Satan's banner.
In all this discourse, I have not designed to exasperate, but assuage and restrain your lusts and passions, by laying the lov. ing and gentle hands of your own reasons and consciences upon them. I have not given the least injurious touch to your honour, but all along pleaded for the recovery, or fecurity of it. I have exposed no man by any particular mark, or indig. nation.
But now I have done with you; if your own consciences shall begin to make a rounder and more particular application of these general reasonings and arguments, and fay to you, as Nathan to David, thou art the man; I am not accountable to God for that. But be confident of it, you are accountable to God for all those plain convictions, and faithful endeavours ufed with
you, and tried upon you, to save you from all those miseries your head-strong lusts, with furious precipitation, are manifestly running you into.
If you can substantially and solidly refel thofe arguments againit, and vindicate those pleas for fin, which reason and conIcience hàve urged and censured above; and can produce ftronger and clearer arguments, to defend and juftify the courfes here censured and condemned; or if you can obtain a writ of error, to remove these causes to another lawful court of judicature, where
thall obtain a more favourable verdict, your complaint of severe dealing with you here, will not want some
ground or colour ; but if you cannot; (as you know you cannot) then never blame your own reasons nor mine, for dealing sigorously or injuriously with you.
I am willing to hope, and persuade myself, that I fhall at least obtain a reformation of life from many of you. I have strove hard for it with you here : I will strive harder with God in prayer, to obtain it for you. But yet, gentlemen, I must tell you in the clofe, that though an external reformation of these evil courses may make your lives more healthy, happy, and durable in this world, and will greatly conduce to the public as well as your personal and private interest ; yer if you expect complete and perfect happiness in the world to come, you must advance one step further beyond reformation, unto found converfion. The first makes you comparatively happy here ; but the fecond will make you perfectly happy and bleffed for ever hereafter. The first frees you from many temporal miferies upon earth ; but the second, from eternal miferies in hell. And this brings you to the other blessed step, by conversion ; which is the second part.
The only thing that makes Men truly happy, and perfectly
blessed, in the World to come.
$ I. Conviction supposed, and grace admired. EASON and conscience having been shaming men out of
their profaneness, in the former part of this discourse, free grace invites them to the life of holiness, and thereby to the life of blessedness, in this second part.
There you see what it is to live like beasts; here you may fre what it is to live like Chriftians.
My charity commands me to suppose, that some readers stand, by this time, convicted in their own consciences, both of the extreme wickedness, and the immediate danger of that profane course they have hitherto pursued, and perfifted in ; and that by this time they begin to interrogate them in the apostle's close and cutting language, Rom. vi. 21. “What fruit « had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed ? « For the end of these things is death." It is hard to imagine, that so many clofe debates and reasonings, as you have heard in the former part, should not leave many of you under convi-, &tion and trouble of spirit. You see, your own reasons and consciences have condemned
« And if our heart con-> “ demn us, (faith the apostle) God is greater than our heart, “ and knoweth all things;" i John iii. 20. It is folly to imagine, you shall be acquitted at God's immediate bar, who are already cast and condemned at your own privy sessions.
If this be the happy effect, as I hope it is, of all the former close and folemn debates with your consciences, it will natural. ly and immediately cast thy foul, reader, into great admiration of, and astonishment at, the patience and long-suffering of God, that hath borne with thee, under a life of prodigious and reiterated provocations until this day. And his goodness will be as admirable to thee, as his patience ; in that he hath not only suffered thee to live till this day, but made it the day of thy conviction, the first necessary step towards thy conversion ; and the very first things he entertains thy convinced and troubled soul with, to be the possibility and probability of thy conversion to God.
The greatness of his patience Thews his almighty power, Rom. ix. 22. Nahum i. 3. but his willingness to pass by all the wrongs you have done him, and to be at peace with
dir. covers the immense riches of his grace, Tit. iii. 3, 4.
That God should be so quick in the executions of his wrath upon your companions in fin, and fo patient and long-suffering towards you, that have out-finned them all; is such a comparative consideration of his bounty, as should even overwhelm the man that beholds it. Rom. xi. 22. “ Behold the “ goodness and severity of God! on them that fell, severity; « but towards thee, goodness.”
If thou be that very man, who in the past course of thy life haft been a profane swearer, a beastly drunkard, a lascivious perfon, an hater and persecutor of good men ; and after all this, the Lord hath brought an offer of mercy to thy foul, and shall convince thee it is not come too late, but that the doot of
hope ftands yet open to thee; my advice to thee is, that thou cast thyself down at the feet of mercy, and after this manner pour forth thy laments and desires before the Lord.
? And is there yet a possibility of mercy, O Lord God, for < such a vile wretch as I have been ! can the arms of free
grace yet open themselves to embrace such a monster of wickedness
I am ? Who then is a God like unto thee? And what patience, mercy, and goodness, is like thine ? I have far exceed' ed others in fin; I have lived the life of a beast, yea, of a de
vil. . I have dared thy dreadful, and glorious name, with 6 thousands of horrid blafphemies;" trampled all thy glorious • attributes under my feet, challenged thee, to thy very face, • to do thy worst, even to damn me to the pit of hell : I have
yielded up this soul, with all its noble faculties and powers,
as instruments of fin unto the devil; and made this body, ( which thould have been the hallowed temple of thy Spirit,
to be the noisome fink (or common-fewer) for all unclean (and abominable lusts, to run and settle in. I have hated, • reviled, and persecuted those that lived more strictly, soberly, 6 and godly, than myself; because their convincing examples
disquieted, checked, and convicted my conscience, in the eager pursuit of my lusts and pleasures.
• I have lived in the profane neglect of prayer, meditation, « felf-reflection, and all other spiritual Christian duties; think• ing to make an atonement for all, by a few hypocritical, external formalities. • To accomodate my carnal interest in the world, I have come reeking hot out of an ale-house, or whore-house, to the table of the Lord; where, with unhallowed hands, and a more unhallowed heart, I have crucified again the Lord of glory, and given the vileft affront and despite to that most facred and precious blood, which now muft save me, or I
am loft for ever. Thus have I done ; and “ because thou • “ keepest silent, I thought thee to be altogether such an one •“ as myself: but this day halt thou reproved me, and set mine « « abominations in order before me. . I have tempted and seduced many others into the fame o impieties with me, of whom, some are already gone down
to the dead, and others so fixed, and fully engaged in the pur• fuit of their lufts, that there appear no signs of repentance,
or recovery in them. ..Thy wrath, Lord, foon brake forth against the angels that • finned in heaven; yet hitherto haft thou forborn and spared . me, who have been highly provoking thee ever fince I was