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fered to the world, why may not I partake of it as well as others?' I can perceive in many that I converse with, the great difference between a heart that loves God and holiness, and a heart that seems religious and honest without such a love. The true convert perceiveth so much sweetness in holy duties, and so much spiritual advantage by them to his soul, that he is loath to be kept back; he cannot spare these ordinances and mercies, no more than he can spare the bread from his mouth, or the clothes from his back, yea, or the skin from his flesh; no, nor so much. He loveth them, he cannot live without them. At the worst that ever he is at, he had rather be holy than unholy, and live a godly than a fleshly, worldly life. And therefore, if he had but a bare leave from God, without a command to sanctify the Lord's day, and to live in the holy communion of the saints, he would joyfully take it with many thanks: for he need not be driven to his rest when he is weary, nor to his spiritual food when he is hungry, nor to Christ the refuge of his soul, when the curse and accuser are pursuing him. But the unsanctified hypocrite that never loved God or godliness in his heart, he stands questioning and inquiring for some proof of the necessity of these courses. And if he can but bring himself to hope that God will save him without so much ado, (which by the help of the devil he may easily be brought to hope,) away then goes the duty. If you could not shew him that there is a necessity of family prayer, and a necessity of sanctifying the Lord's day, and a necessity of forsaking his tippling and voluptuousness, and a necessity of living a heavenly life, he would quickly resolve of another course for he had rather do otherwise if he durst. He never was religious from a true predominant love to God and a holy life, but for fear of hell, and for other inferior respects.
Remember this when you have precious opportunities before you, of doing or receiving good, and when you see that you have leave to take these opportunities, and yet you draw back, and are questioning, 'How we can prove it to be your duty? Or that you cannot be saved without it? not these questions plainly shew that you love not the work and delight not in a holy life? and that you had rather let it alone? Are you not blind if you see not this is in yourselves? Yea, it is plain that you have such an averseness or
hatred to God and a holy course of life, that if you did but know what shift to make to escape damnation, you would fly away from God and holiness, and have as little to do with them as you can. Your questions and cavils do plainly declare this wicked enmity and backwardness of your hearts; and consequently shew how far you are from true conversion.
Not that I am of their mind that think there is any good which the law of Christ obligeth us not to accept, and which we can refuse without sin and danger to ourselves: for God doth both draw us, and drive us at once. But when the threatening and punishment only can prevail with men, and men love not God and godliness for themselves, but had rather have liberty to live as the ungodly, I shall never take one of these for a sanctified man, nor have any hope of the saving of such a soul, how far soever his fears may carry him from his outward sins, or to outward duties; till God shall give him a better conversion than this, I say, I have not the smallest hope of this man's salvation. Then you are God's children, when the honour, the work, the family, the name of your Father are lovely and delightful to you: and when you grieve that there are any remnants of sin in your souls, and when your sins are to you as lameness to the lame, that pains them every step they go, and as sickness to the sick, that makes them groan, and groan again, and long to be rid of it and when you think those the happiest men on earth that are the most holy, and wish from your hearts that you were such as they, though you had not a house to put your head in: when you look towards God with longing thoughts, and are grieved that your understandings can reach no nearer him, and know no more of him, and that your hearts cannot embrace him with a more burning love: when you admire the beauty of a meek, a patient, a mortified, spiritual, heavenly mind, and long to have more of this yourself, yea, to be perfect in all holiness and obedience: when your hearts are thus brought over to God, that you had rather have him than any other, and rather live in his family any where, and rather walk in his ways than in any; then are you indeed converted, and never till then, whatever other dispositions you may have.
And now if that were my business, what abundance of reason might I shew you, to make you willing to come over unto God, with love, and with delight. Whom else can
you love if he that is love itself seem not lovely to you? All loveliness is in him and from him; the creature hath none of itself, nor for itself: to love a life of sin, is to love the image and service of the devil, and to love that which feeds the flames of hell; what is it then to love this sin so well, as for the love of it to fly from God and godliness? Methinks men at the worst should love that which will do them good, and not prefer that before it which will hurt them. Do sinners indeed believe that God and holiness will do them hurt, and that sin will do them greater good? Is there ever a man so mad, that he dare speak this and stand to it? If indeed you think it best to live in sin, and therefore had rather keep it than leave it; your understandings are befooled, I had almost used Paul's phrase and said, bewitched; Gal. iii. 1. Will it do you any hurt to leave your beastly, sensual lives, and to "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ?" This is the doctrine of saving grace; Tit. ii. 11-13. Would it do you any harm to be assured of salvation, and ready to die, and to know that angels shall conduct your departing souls to Christ, and that you shall live in joy with him for ever? Or to be employed in those holy works that must prepare you for this day, and help you to this assurance? If God be naught for you, if holiness, and righteousness, and temperance be naught for you, then you may as well say, heaven is naught for you; and therefore you must resolve for sin and hell, and see whether that be good for you. I shall say no more of this point, because I have written of it already, in the conclusion of the "Saints' Rest," which I desire you to peruse.
Direct, XI. The next part of my advice is, 'If you would not have this saving work miscarry, turn then this present day and hour, without any more delay.'
Somewhat I have spoken of this already, and therefore shall say the less. But yet I shall back this Direction with such reasons as will certainly convince you, if you be not unreasonable, of the folly of delay, and shew you that it concerneth you presently to return. And though my reasons will be numerous, it is not the number, but the strength of them, that I shall urge you principally to consider; and
because of the number, I will go over them with the greater brevity.
1. Consider to whom it is that you are commanded to turn and then tell me whether there can be any reason for delay. It is not to an empty, deceitful creature, but to the faithful, all-sufficient God: to him that is the cause of all things; the strength of the creation, the joy of angels, the felicity of the saints, the sun and shield of all the righteous, and refuge of the distressed, and the glory of the whole world. Of such power, that his word can take down the sun from the firmament, and turn the earth and all things into nothing; for he doth more in giving them their being and continuance. Of such wisdom, that was never guilty of mistake, and therefore will not mislead you, nor draw you to any thing that is not for the best. Of such goodness, as that evil cannot stand in his sight, and nothing but your evil could make him displeased with you; and it is from nothing but evil that he calleth you to turn. It is not to a malicious enemy, that would do you a mischief, but it is to a gracious God, that is love itself: not to an implacable justice, but to a reconciled Father: not to revenging indignation, but to the embracement of those arms, and the mercy of that compassionate Lord, that is enough to melt the hardest heart, when you find yourself as the poor returning prodigal, (Luke xxv. 20.) in his bosom, when you deserved to have been under his feet. And will the great and blessed God invite thee to his favour, and wilt thou delay and demur upon the return? The greatest of the angels of heaven are glad of his favour, and value no happiness but the light of his countenance; heaven and earth are supported by him, and nothing can stand without him; how glad would those very devils be of his favour, that tempt thee to neglect his favour! And wilt thou delay to turn to such a God? Why man, thou art every minute at his if thou turn not, he can throw thee into hell when he will, more easily than I can throw this book to the ground; and yet dost thou delay? There are all things imaginable in him to draw thee: there is nothing that is good for thee, but it is perfectly in him; where thou mayst have it certain and perpetuated. There is nothing in him to give the least discouragement : let all the devils in hell, and all the enemies of God on earth, say the worst they can against his majesty, and they are not
able to find the smallest blemish in his absolute holiness, and wisdom, and goodness: and yet wilt thou delay to turn?
2. Consider also, as to whom, so to what it is that thou must turn. Not to uncleanness, but unto holiness: not to the sensual life of a beast, but to the noble, rational life of a man, and the more noble, heavenly life of a believer not to an unprofitable, worldly toil, but to the most gainful employment that ever the sons of men were acquainted with: not to the deceitful drudgery of sin, but to that "godliness which is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;" 1 Tim. iv. 8. Sirs, do you know what a life of holiness is? You do not know it, if you turn away from it: I am sure if you knew it, you would never fly from it, no, nor endure to live without it. Why, a life of holiness is nothing but a living unto God, to be conversant with him, as the wicked are with the world, and to be devoted to his service, as sensualists are to the flesh. It is to live in the love of God and our Redeemer; and in the foretastes of his everlasting glory, and of his love; and in the sweet forethoughts of that blessed life that shall never end; and in the honest, self-denying course that leadeth to that blessedness. A godly life is nothing else but a sowing the seed of heaven on earth; and a learning in the school of Christ, the songs of praise which we must use before the throne of God; and by suffering, a learning how to triumph and reign with Christ. And is there any thing in this life which you have cause to be afraid of? The sins and weaknesses of the godly are contrary to godliness; and therefore godliness is no more dishonoured by them, than health and life are dishonoured by your sicknesses. As health is never the worse to be liked, but the better, because of the painful grievousness of sickness, so godliness is to be liked the better, because the very failings of the saints are so grievous. If a true believer do but step out of the way of God, he is wounded, he is out of joint, he is as undone till he come in again; though it was but in one particular. And can you endure to continue strangers to it altogether so long? I know you may find faults in the godly, till they are perfect; but let the most malicious enemy of Christ on earth find any fault in godliness if he can.
Can you delay to come into your Father's family; into the vineyard of the Lord; into the kingdom of God on earth,