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cause) against that ordinance. I lamentit as much as they, that men should turn it into such a deadly snare to their own fouls, yet
will still honour Christ's abused ordinance.
2. Some think, the common profession of Christianity makes men Christians enough; they are no Heathens, Mahometans, or idolatrous Papifts; but Protestants, within the pale of the true church; that is, profeffed reformed Christians.
But, friends, I beg you to consider that convictive text, 1 Cor. iv. 20. “ The kingdom of God is not in word, but in " power," Many there be, that in words confefs Christ, but in works they deny him. And why were the foolish virgins (that, is professed reformed Christians) shut out of the kingdom of God; if the lamp of verbal profession, without the oil of internal godliness, were enough for our salvation ? Mat. xxv. 3, 12. Believe it, firs, many will claim acquaintance with Christ upon this account, and expect favour from him in the great day, of whom he will profess he never knew them, Mat. vii. 22. Chrift ueed not have put men upon striving, as in an agony, to enter in at the strait gate ; if baptism in our infan. cy, or verbal profession of Christianity, were all the difficulties men had to encounter in the way to heaven.
3. Formality in external duties of religion, is another fatal miftake of conversion. Have not these been the inward thoughts of your hearts? As bad as we are, though we take liberty to swear, be drunk, and unclean sometimes; yet we fay our prayers, keep our church, and hope for heaven and salvation, as well as those that are more precise..
But tell me, gentlemen, ferioufly, what do you say, or plead for yourselves more in all this, than those convicted hypocrites did, Ifa. lviii. 2. “ Yet they seek me daily, and delight to s know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and for. “ fook not the ordinances of their God: They ask of me the :66 ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to “ God.” Or to come nearer yet to your case, and cut off, at one stroke, for ever this vain plea of yours, read and ponder God's own censure of it, in Jer. vii. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. “ hold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye 5 steal, murder, commit adultery, and swear falsely, &c. and “ come and stand before me in this house, which is called by
my name, and fay, We are delivered to do all these abomi“ nations ? Is this house, which is called by my name, be
come a den of robbers in your eyes ? Behold, even I have # seen it, faith the Lord; but go ye now to my place, which
“ was iu Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what “ I did to it, for the wickedness of my people Israel."
À V. Of the nature of true coversion.
external things; at your eternal peril be it, if you trust in them : But true conversion is the turning of the whole man to God, Acts xxvi. 18. it is nothing less than the total change of the inward temper, and frame of the heart, and the external course of the life, Isa. lv. 8. It is not the cool confeflion, but the real forsaking of fin, in which we shall find mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. Thy heart and will, love and delight, must turn fin out, and take Christ in, or thou art no gofpel-convert. A true convert loaths every in, and himself for fin, Ezek. Xxxvi. 31. but general confessions of sin are consistent with the full dominion of fin. Moreover, in all true conversion there is a positive turning unto God, a whole heart-choice of him, for your supreme and ultimate happiness and portion, Pfal. Ixxiii. 25. and of the Lord Jesus Christ, as your Prince and Saviour, Acts v. 31. And answerably, it will devote your whole life to his service and glory, Phil. i. 21. And thus it brings forth the new man, and the whole frame of and life is marvellously changed and altered, 2 Cor. v. 17. “ Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become
It may be, you will think fuch a change as this impossible to be made upon you. And so it is indeed, until the day of God's power come, Psal. cx. 3. What! to forsake with loathing your old companions, and courses, which you have so long lived with and delighted in; and to embrace with highest pleasure, strict godliness, which you have so loathed, and ridiculed! This would be a strange alteration indeed : But as strange as it seems to be, it will be effected in a moment, when God fulfils that gracious promise (as I hope he is now doing) to you, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. “A new heart also will I give
you, and a new spirit will I put within you.". Operations follow mature: When the heart of a beast was given to that great king Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. v. 21. 'his dwelling was with the wild asses; they fed him with grass, like oxen. But let the spirit of a man return to him again, and he'll blush to think of his brutish company, and way of life; and so will you of yours also. As marvellous a change as this, has passed upon as eminent and notorious sinners as yourselves, Gal. i, 22. the God of the spirits of all fielh can with ease and speed
produce all this by that Almighty Power, whereby he is able to fubdue all things to himself.
§ VI. Of the hazards attending converfion. F the Lord shall, in his rich grace and mercy to your souls, stir up in them the thoughts and resolutions of a change
course ; great care ought to be taken, in the time of this change, lest they miscarry in their remove from one state to another; multitudes miscarry betwixt a state of profaneness, and true godliness. To continue in the stare of profaneness, is to be certainly lost; and so it is to take up short of Christ, in mere civility and formality in religion. This middle state takes up multitudes by the way, who do but change the open road, for a more private way to hell.
Mere civilized nature is unregenerated nature still; “They “ return, but not to the most High ; they are like a deceitfil “ bow," faith the prophet, Hosea vii. 16. They seem to ain at Christ, and salvation ; but, as an arrow from a weak bow, not home
; or, as from a deceitful bow, it flants aside, and miffcs the mark. It is true, they are not openly profane, as they were before ; but they take up, and settle in an unregenerate state ftill: Their condition is the same, though their company be not.
This is excellently set forth by our Saviour, Matth. xii. 43, 44, 45. the devil may be caft out as a profane devil, and yet keep his propriety still as a formal devil. The sense of that text is well expressed by one, in this note upon it: That a restraint by formality, keeps the devil's propriety, and disposes the soul to final, apostacy. You are as far from Christ and fal. vation, under the power of formality, as you were before. He that is cured of a fever, hath no great cause to rejoice, if his fever has left him under a confumption, which will kill him as turely, though it 'may be less violently, or speedily.
♡ VII. Of the absolute necessity of a thorough change. Hatever the difficulties and hazards are, that attend this
change by conversion unto God, the change itself is absolutely and indispensibly necessary to every man's falvati
The door of salvation can never be opened, without the key of regeneration. Christ assures civil and formal Nicodemus, " That except he be born again, he cannot see the king“ domn of God," John iii. 3. Think not conversion to be the
attainment of some fingular and extraordinary Christians, for it is the very point upon which every man's eternal happiness or inisery depends. There is one law for all the world; they must be changed, or damned : No reftitutions or reformations, no common gifts or abilities, no religious duties or services, can save any man from hell, witl out a change by thorough converbon. Rom. viii. 8. “ They that are in the flesh, can“ not please God."
Satisfy and please not yourselves with this : Though we live in Gin, yet God is a merciful God. We will confess our fins to him, say our prayers, keep our church ; and no doubt but God will be merciful to us, as well as others. Consider it, man, that this merciful God is also a God of truth; and this God of truch hath plainly assured thee, that all these external things fignify nothing to thy salvation, unless thou become a new creature, Gal. vi. 15. and that thou must be born again, John iii. 3. Say not, without this you will hope in God: 1 you hope in God, you must hope in his word, Pfalm cxix. 81. Now where will
find that word in the Bible, that warrants the hope of salvation in the unregenerate person? All scriptural hope is of a purifying nature, and evermore productive of an holy life, 1 John iii. 3:
If you say, Christ died for the greatest of sinners, and you trust to be faved through him ; it is true, he did so, but converGion is his only method of salvation, Tit. ii. 14. and those that are not washed by fanctification, have no part in him, or in his blood, John xii. 8. He came not to save men continu. ing in their fins, but to save his people from their fins, Matth. i. 21. His way is to lead you through fanctification unto falvation, 2 Thef. ii. 13. If you have a mind to see whom, and how he faves ; you have it before youreyes, Tit. ii. 14. "Who
gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all ini« quity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous « of good works." Those only are saved by him, that "deny: “ ing ungodliness, and worldlý lusts, live not only soberly and “ righteously, but godly in this present world."
And this is the change I am here pressing you to ; and until this change be made, you cannot find yourselves within the compass of any covenant-promise, Eph. ji. 12. but if you will turn to Heb. xii. 14. you may, the very next minute, find yourelves barred out of heaven by a scripture threatening. Let no man, therefore, impofe so great a cheat upon his own soul, as once to imagine, that any thing short of
found conversion can ever put him out of the danger of damnation:
$ VIII. Every man might do more than he doth; towards his
do, and doth it not, he is justly chargeable with his own damination. We are bid, and bound to strive to enter in at the ftrait gate, Luke xiii. 24. It is true, a man, in his natural state, can do nothing that is fpiritually, or fupernaturally good; yet he can do, and forbear to do many things, the doing or forbearing of which, have a true (though remoter) tendency to his conversion; and not doing, or forbearing of them, his destruction is of and from himself.
You can, if you will, forbeat to sweat, and blaspheme the name of God. Who can, or does compel, or force your tongues to it? The devil can tempt, but not compel them : you can, if you will stop, wheu nature is duly refreshed. Your wicked companions can provoke, but not force you. You can, if you please, shun lascivious books, and company, and keep your bodies chaste, at least from the external acts of unclean ness.
And why cannot you (if you please) perform, as well as neglect, the external acts of religious duties? The same feet that carry you to a tavern, can carry you to your closets, if you please to have them do so. Nor do I know any reason why you cannot compose yourselves, when engaged in God's public or private worship, to a close and serious attendance to those duties. The application of the mind to what is spoken is of great concernment to you; and if an unsanctified miniIter can apply. his thoughts to compose a fermon, and preach it; I see no reason why an unfanctified hearer may not allo compose, and apply his mind to hear it. And I am past alt doubt, that something may be done beyond all this. You have some power certainly to reflect upon, and consider what concernment you have in the things you read or hear; and how they agree, or disagree with your experience.
Now, if men would but do this, (which certainly they have a power to do) though they cannot convert themselves, yec hereby they would lie in the hopeful way of converting grace; which is more than they could ever yet be persuaded to do. And though there be no positive certainty, or affurance, t? VOL. VIII.