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you fain have one year's sin more, or one day's sin more to be charged upon you? O if you did but know what sin is, it would amaze you to think what a mountain lieth already upon your consciences. One sin unpardoned will sink the stoutest sinner into hell. And you have many a thousand upon your souls already, and would you yet have more? Methinks you should rather look about you, and bethink you how you may get a pardon for all that is past.
15. And as this sin increaseth daily by delay, so consequently the wrath of God increaseth; you will run further into his displeasure; and possibly you may cut down the bough that you stand upon, and hasten even bodily destruction to yourselves. When you live daily upon God, and are kept out of hell by a miracle of his mercy, methinks you should not desire yet longer to provoke him, lest he withdraw his mercy, and let you fall into misery.
16. And do but consider, what will become of you, if you be found in these delays. You are then lost, body and soul, for ever. Now if you had but hearts to know what is good for you, the worst of you might be converted and saved; for God doth freely offer you his grace. But if you die in your delays, in the twink of an eye, you will find yourselves utterly undone for ever: Now there is hope of a change, but when delays have brought you to hell, there is no more change, nor any more hope.
17. Consider, That your very time which you lose by these delays, is an inconceivable loss. When time is gone, what would you then give for one of those years, or days, or hours, which you now foolishly trifle away! O wretched sinners! are there so many thousand souls in hell, that would give a world if they had it, for one of your days, and yet can you afford to throw them away in worldliness, and sensuality, and loitering delays? I tell you, time is better worth, than all the wealth and honours of the world. The day is coming, when you will set by time; when it is gone, you will know what a blessing you made light of. But then all the world cannot call back one day or hour of this precious time, which you can sacrifice now to the service of your flesh, and cast away on unprofitable sinning.
18. Consider also, That God hath given you no time to spare. He hath not lent you one day or hour, more than is needful for the work that you have to do, and therefore you
have no reason to lose any by your delays. Do you imagine that God would give a man an hour's time for nothing? much less for to abuse him and serve his enemy? No, let me tell you, that if you make your best of every hour, if you should never lose a minute of your lives, you would find all little enough for the work you have to do. I know not how others think of time, but for my part, I am forced daily to say, How swift, how short is time; and how great is our work; and when we have done our best, how slowly goeth it on! O precious time! What hearts have they, what lives do those men lead, that think time long; that have time to spare, and pass it in idleness!
19. To convince you more, consider I beseech you, The exceeding greatness of the work you have to do; and tell me then, whether it be time for you to delay. Especially you that are yet unconverted, and strangers to the heavenly nature of the saints, you have far more to do than other men. You have a multitude of headstrong passions to subdue, and abundance of deadly sins to kill, and rooted vices to root up: you have many a false opinion of God and his ways, to be plucked up, and the customs of many years' standing to be broken: you have blind minds that must be enlightened with heavenly knowledge; and abundance of spiritual truths that are above the reach of flesh and blood, that you must needs learn and understand you have much to know, that is hard to be known: you have a dead soul to be made alive, and a hard heart to be melted, and a seared conscience to be softened and made tender, and the guilt of many thousand sins to be pardoned: you have a new heart to get, and a new end to aim at and seek after, and a new life to live; abundance of enemies you have to fight with and overcome; abundance of temptations to resist and conquer. Many graces to get, and preserve, and exercise, and increase, and abundance of holy works to do for the service of God, and the good of yourselves and others. O what a deal of work doth every one of these words contain; and yet what abundance more might I name! And have you all this to do, and yet will you delay? And they are not indifferent matters that are before you; it is no less than the saving of your souls, and the obtaining the blessed glory of the saints. Necessity is upon you: these are things that must be done, or else woe to you that ever you were born: and yet have
you another day to lose? Why sirs, if you had a hundred miles to go in a day or two, upon pain of death, would you delay? O think of the work that you have to do, and then judge whether it be not time to stir!
20. And methinks it should exceedingly terrify you to consider, what abundance by such delays do perish; and how few that wilfully delay are ever converted and saved. Many a soul that once had purposes hereafter to repent, is now in misery, where. there is no repentance, that will do them any good. For my part, though I have known some very few converted when they are old; yet I must needs say, both that they were very few indeed, and that I had reason to believe, that they were such that had sinned before in ignorance, and did not wilfully put off repentance, when they were convinced that they must turn. Though I doubt not but God may convert even these if he please, yet I cannot say that I have ever known many, if any such, to be converted. Sure I am that God's usual time is in childhood or youth, before they have long abused grace, and wilfully delayed to turn when they were convinced. Some considerable time I confess many have before their first convictions and purposes be brought to any great ripeness of performance; but O how dangerous is it to delay!
21. Consider also, Either conversion is good or bad for you either it is needful or unnecessary. If it be bad, and a needless thing, then let it alone for altogether. But if you are convinced that it is good and necessary, is it not better now, than to stay any longer? Is it not the sooner the better? Are you afraid of being safe, or happy too soon? If you are sick, you care not how soon you are well: if you have a bone out, you care not how soon it is set: if you fall into water, you care not how soon you get out: if your house be on fire, you care not how soon it be quenched: if you are but in fears by any doubts, or ill-tidings, you care not how soon your fears be over. And yet are you afraid of being too soon out of the power of the devil, and the danger of hell; and of being too soon the sons of God, and the holy, justified heirs of heaven?
22. Consider also, Either you can turn now or not. you can, and yet will not, you are utterly without excuse. If you cannot to-day, how much less will you be able hereafter, when strength is less, and difficulties greater, and bur
dens more? Is it not time therefore, to make out to Christ for strength, and should not the very sense of your disability dissuade you from delay?
23. Consider, How long you have staid already, and put God's patience to it by your folly; hath not the devil, the world and the flesh, had many years time of your life already? Have you not been long enough swallowing the poison of sin? And long enough been abusing the Lord that made you, and the blood of the Son of God, that was shed for you, and the Spirit of grace, that hath moved and persuaded you? Are you not yet gone far enough from God, and have you not yet done enough to the damning of yourselves, and casting away everlasting life? O wretched sinners, it is rather time for you to fall down on your faces before the Lord, and with tears and groans, to lament it day and night, that ever you have gone so far in sin, and delayed so long to turn to him as you have done. Sure, if after so many years' rebellion, you are yet so far from lamenting it, that you had rather have more of it, and had rather hold on a little longer no wonder if God forsake you, and let you alone.
24. Have you any hopes of God's acceptance, and your salvation, or not? If you have such hopes, that when you turn, God will pardon all your sins, and give you everlasting life, is it think you an ingenuous thing to desire to offend him yet a little longer, from whom you expect such exceeding mercy and glory as you do? Have you the faces to speak what is in your hearts and practice, and to go to God with such words as these? Lord I know I cannot have the pardon of one sin, without the blood of Christ, and the riches of thy mercy; nor can I be saved from hell without it; but yet I hope for all this from thy grace; I beseech thee let me live a little longer in my sins, a little longer let me trample on the blood of Christ, and despise thy commands, and abuse thy mercies; a little longer let me spit in the face of thy goodness, and prefer the flesh and the world before thee, and then pardon me all that ever I did, and take me into glory. Could you for shame put up such a request to God as this? If you could, you are past shame; if not, then do not practise and desire that, which you cannot for shame speak out and request.
25. Moreover, it is an exceeding advantage to you, to come in to God betimes, and an exceeding loss that you will
suffer by delay, if you were sure to be converted at last. If you speedily come in, you may have time to learn, and get more understanding in the matters of God, than else can be expected; for knowledge will not be had but by time and study. You may also have time to get strength of grace, when young beginners can expect no more than an infant's strength; you may grow to be men of parts and abilities, to be useful in the church, and profitable to those about you, when others cannot go or stand, unless they lean on the stronger for support. If you come in betime, you may do God a great deal of service; which in the evening of the day, you will neither have strength nor time to do. You may have time to get assurance of salvation, and to be ready with comfort when death shall call; when a weakling is like to be perplexed with doubts and fears, and death is like to be terrible, because of their unreadiness.
26. And did you ever consider, who and how many do stay for you while you delay? Do you know who it is that you make to wait your leisure? God himself stands over you with the offers of his mercy, as if he thought it long till you return, saying, "O that there were such a heart in them; and when will it once be? How long ye simple will ye love simplicity, and scorners delight in scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof;" Deut. v. 29. Jer. xiii. 17. Prov. i. 22. And do you think it wise, or safe, or mannerly, for you to make the God of heaven to wait on you, while you are serving his enemy? Can you offer God a baser indignity, than to expect that he should support your lives, and feed you, and preserve you, and patiently forbear you, while you abuse him to his face, and drudge for the flesh, the world, and the devil? Should a worm thus use the Lord that made him? You will not yourselves hold a candle in your hands, while it burns your own fingers; nor will hold a nettle or a wasp you in hand to sting you; nor will you keep a dog in your house, that is good for nothing but to snarl at you, and bite your children, and worry your sheep; and yet God hath long held up your lives, while instead of light, you have yielded nothing but a stinking snuff; and instead of grapes, you have brought forth nothing but thorns and thistles; and while you have snarled at his children, and his flock, and done the worst you could against