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to be fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; to have the pardon of all your sins, and the sealed promise of everlasting glory? Why, sirs, when you are called on to turn, you are called to the porch of heaven, into the beginning of salvation. And will you delay to accept everlasting life?
3. Consider also, from what you are called to turn; and then judge whether there be any reason of delay. It is from the devil, your enemy; from the love of a deceitful world; from the seducement of corrupted, brutish flesh; it is from sin, the greatest evil. What is there in sin that you should delay to part with it? Is there any good in it? Or what hath it ever done for you that you should love it? Did it ever do you good? Or did it ever do any man good? It is the deadly enemy of Christ and you. That caused his death, and will cause yours, and is working for your damnation, if converting and pardoning grace prevent it not. And are
you loath to leave it? It is the cause of all the miseries of the world, of all the sorrow that ever did befal you, and the cause of the damnation of them that perish. And do you delay to part with it?
4. Your delaying shews that you love not God, and that you prefer your sin before him, and that you would never part with it if you might have your will. For if you loved God, you would long to be restored to his favour, and to be near him, and employed in his service, and his family. Love is quick and diligent, and will not draw back. And it is a sign also that you are in love with sin; for else, why would you be so loath to leave it? He that would not leave his sin, and turn to God, till the next week, or next month, or year, would never turn if he might have his desire. For that which makes you desirous to stay a day or week longer, doth indeed make you loath to turn at all. And, therefore, it is but hypocrisy to take on you, that you are willing to turn hereafter, if you be not willing to do it now without delay.
5. Consider, but what a case you are in while you delay. Do you think you stand on dry ground, or in a safe condition? If you knew where you are, you would sit as upon thorns, as long as you are unconverted; you would be as a man that stood up to the knees in the sea, and saw the tide coming towards him, who certainly would think that
there is no standing still in such a place. Read what I have said of the state of the unconverted, and in my first "Treatise of Conversion." In a word, you are the drudges of sin, the slaves of the devil, the enemies of God, the abusers of his grace and Spirit, the despisers of Christ, the heirs of hell. And is this a state to stay in an hour? You have all your sin unpardoned; you are under the curse of the law. The wrath of God is upon you; and the fulness of it hangs over your heads. Judgment is coming to pass upon you the dreadful doom; the Lord is at hand; death is at the door, and waits but for the word from the mouth of God, that it may arrest you, and bring you to everlasting misery. And is this a state for a man to stay in?
6. Moreover, your delaying giveth great advantage to the tempter. If you would presently turn and forsake your sins, and enter into a faithful covenant with God, the devil would be almost out of hope, and the very heart of his temptations would be broken. He would see that now it is too
late. There is no getting you out of the arms of Christ. But as long as you delay, you keep him still in heart and hope. He hath time to strengthen his prison and fetters, and to renew his snares. And if one temptation serve not,
he hath time to try another, and another. As if you would stand as a mark for satan to shoot at, as long as he please. What likelihood is there, that ever so foolish a sinner should be recovered and saved from his sin?
7. Moreover, your delaying is a vile abuse of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and may so far provoke him, as to leave you to yourself, and then you are past help. If you delight so to trample on your crucified Lord, and will so long put him to it by refusing his grace, and grieving his Spirit, what can you expect, but that he should turn away in wrath, and utterly forsake you, and say, "Let him keep his sin, seeing he had rather have it than my grace; let him continue ungodly, seeing he is so loath to be sanctified; let him take his own course, and die in his sin, and repent in hell, seeing he would not repent on earth?" You provoke Christ thus to give you up.
8. Consider also, I beseech yon, if you ever mean to turn, what it is that you stay for. Do you think to bring down Christ and heaven to lower rates, and to be saved hereafter with less ado? Sure you cannot be so foolish.
For God will be still the same, and Christ the same, and his promise hath still the same condition, which he will never change; and godliness will be the same, and as much against your carnal interest hereafter as it is now. When you have looked about you never so long, you will never find a fairer or nearer way; but this same way you must go, or perish. If you cannot leave sin now, how should you leave it then? It will be still as sweet to yourself as now. Or if one sin grow stale by the decay of nature, another that is worse will spring up in its stead, and though the acts abate, they will all live still at the root; for sin was never mortified by age. So that if ever you will turn, you may best turn
9. Yea, more than that, the longer you stay, the harder it will be. If it be hard to-day, it is like to be harder to-morrow. For as the Spirit of Christ is like to forsake you for your wilful delays, so custom will strengthen sin; and custom in sinning will harden your hearts, and make you as past feeling, to work all uncleanness with greediness; Eph. iv. 19. Cannot you crush this serpent when it is but in the spawn, and can you encounter it in its serpentine strength? Cannot you pluck up a tender plant, and can you pluck up an oak or cedar? O sinners! what do you do, to make your recovery so difficult by delay? You are never like to be fairer for heaven, and to find conversion an easier work than now you may do. Will you stay till the work be ten times harder, and yet do you think it so hard already?
10. Consider also, That sin gets daily victorious by your delay. We lay our batteries against it, and preach, and exhort, and pray against it, and it gets a kind of victory over all, as long as we prevail not with you to turn. It conquereth our persuasions and advice; it conquereth all the stirrings of your consciences; it conquereth all your heartless purposes, and deceitful promises. And these frequent conquests do strengthen your sin, and weaken your resistance, and leave the matter almost hopeless. Before a physician hath used remedies, he hath more hope of a cure, than when he hath tried all means, and finds that the best medicines do no good, but the man is still as bad or worse. So when all means have been tried with you, and yet you are unconverted, the case draws towards desperation itself. The very means are disabled more than before; that is, your hearts
are unapter to be wrought upon by them. When you have long been under sermons, and reading, and among good examples, and yet you are unconverted, these ordinances lose much of their force with you. Custom will make you slight them, and be dead-hearted under them. And it is these very same means and truths that you have frustrated, that must do the work, or it will never be done. The same plaister must heal you that you have thrown off so oft. And what a sad case is this, that there is no hope left, but in the very same medicine which you have taken so oft in vain?
11. Moreover, age itself hath many inconveniences, and youth hath many great advantages, and, therefore, it is folly to delay. In age the understanding and memory grows dull, and people grow incapable, and almost unchangeable. We see, by our every day's experience, that men think they should not change when they are old, that opinion or practice that they have been brought up in, they think that they should not then forsake it. To learn when they are old, and to turn when they are old, you see how much they are against it. Besides, how unfit is age to be at that pains, that you can undergo. How unfit to begin the holy warfare against the flesh, the world,and the devil. God's way is, to list his soldiers as soon as may be, even in their infancy, which they must own as soon as ever they come to age. And the devil would not have it done at all, and, therefore, he woul have it put off as long as may be. In infancy he will tell the parents, with the Anabaptists, 'It is too soon to be dedicated to God, and entered into covenant.' When they come to their childhood, and youthful state, he will then persuade them, that it is yet too soon; and when he can no longer persuade them that it is yet too soon, he will then persuade them that it is too late. O what a happy thing it is to come unto God betimes, and with the first! What advantage hath youth! They have the vigour of wit, and of body. They be not rooted and hardened in it, not filled with prejudice and obstinacy against godliness, as others be. Besides, the capacity of serving God, of which anon.
12. You have such times of advantage and encouragement, as few ages of the world have ever seen, and few nations on earth do enjoy at this day. What plain and plentiful teaching have you? ? What abundance of good examples, and the society of the godly? Private and public helps
Godliness is under as little suffering as ever you can expect to see it; yea, it is grown into reputation among us, so that it is an honour to serve God, and a dishonour to neglect it, (as well it may). Our rulers countenance the practices of godliness; they proclaim themselves the forward professors and patrons of it, and take this as their glory. And this is not ordinary in the world. Seldom hath the church seen such days on earth. And yet is not the way to heaven fair enough for you? Yet are you not ready to turn to God? When should men make hay, but when the sun shines? Will you delay till this harvest-time be over, and the winter of persecution come again? Can you better turn to God, when a godly life is the common scorn of the country, as it was a while ago; and when every one will be deriding and railing at you? Or when it may possibly cost you your lives? Have you sun, and wind, and tide to serve you, and will you stay to set out in storms and darkness?
13. Moreover, Your delay doth cast your conversion and salvation upon hazard, yea, upon many and grievous hazards. And is your everlasting happiness a matter to be wilfully hazarded, by causeless and unreasonable delays? (1.) If you delay to-day, you are utterly uncertain of living till to-morrow. If you put by this one motion, you know not whether ever you shall have another. Alas! that ever the heart of man should be so senseless, as to delay, when they know not but it may prove their damnation, and when heaven or hell must certainly follow; that they dare put off a day or hour, when they know not whether ever they shall see another. (2.) And as your life is uncertain, so are the means uucertain by which God useth to do the work. He may remove your teachers, and other helps; and then you will be further off than before. (3.) And if both should continue, yet grace itself is uncertain. You know not whether ever the Spirit of God will put another thought of turning into your hearts; or at least, whether he will give you hearts to
14. Moreover, The delay of conversion continueth your sin, and so you will daily increase the number, and increase your guilt, and make your souls more abundantly miserable. Are you not deep enough in debt to God already, and have you not sin enough to answer for upon your souls? Would