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difficult than ever it was; and the living in that uncertainty at best, which you do, of what will become of you unto eternity, is the most miserable kind of life in the world. Those who put far from them the evil day, and live in the pursuit of lusts and pleasures, have somewhat that gives them present satisfaction, and they say not, there is no hope, because they find the life of the hand : but you have nothing that gives you any prevalent refreshment, neither will your latter end be better than theirs, if you die without an interest in Christ Jesus. Come therefore at length unto a determinate resolution what you will do in this matter. Christ hath waited long for you, and who knows how soon he may withdraw, never to look after you any more.
Upon occasion of the preceding discourse concerning the glory of Christ, I thougiit it necessary to add unto it this brief exhortation unto faith in him, aiming to suit it unto the capacity of the meanest sinner that is capable of any self-consideration as unto his eternal welfare. But yet a little farther, to give efficacy, unto this exhortation, it will be
necessary to remove some of those common and obvious tergiversations that convinced sinners do usually betake themselves unto, to put off a present compliance with the calls of Christ to come unto him; for although it is unbelief alone acting in the darkness of men's minds and the obstinacy of their wills, that effectually keeps off sinners from coming unto Christ upon his call, yet it shrouds itself under various pretences, that it may not appear in its own ugly form; for no sin, whereof men can be guilty of in this world, is of so horrible a nature, and so dreadful an aspect as is this unbelief, where a clear view of it is obtained in evangelical light: wherefore, by the aid of Satan, it suggests other pleas and pretences unto the minds of sinners, under which they may countenance themselves in a refusal to come to Christ. See 2 Cor. iv. 4. Any thing else it shall be, but not unbelief, that they all disavow. I shall therefore speak unto a few of those tergiversations in this case which are obvious, and which are exemplified in the gospel itself.
First, Some do say on such exhortations, What is it that you would have us to do? We hear the word preached, we believe it as well as we can, we do many things willingly, and abstain from many evils diligently; what is more re
quired of us? This is the language of the hearts of the most with whom in this case we have to do. And I say,
1. It is usual with them who do something in the ways of God, but not all they should, and so nothing in a due manner, to expostulate about requiring of them more than they do. So the people dispute with God himself, Mal. i. 6. iii. 8. 13. So they in the gospel, who esteemed themselves to have done their duty, being pressed unto faith by Christ Jesus, ask him, with some indignation, 'What shall we do, that we might work the work of God ?' John vi. 28. If what we do be not enough, what is it that you require more of us? So was it with the young man, Matt. xix. 20. “What do I lack yet ? Be advised therefore not to be too confident of your state, lest you should yet lack that one thing, the want whereof might prove your eternal ruin.
2. The things mentioned, with all of the like nature, which may be multiplied, may be where there is no one spark of saving faith. Simon Magus heard the word, and believed as well as he could; Herod heard it, and did many things gladly; and all sorts of hypocrites do upon their convictions perform many duties, and abstain from many sins, so as that, notwithstanding this plea, you may perish for ever.
3. Where these things are sincere, they belong unto the exercise of faith ; they may be after a sort without faith, but faith cannot be without them. But there is a fundamental act of faith, whereby we close with Christ, whereby we receive him that is, in order of nature, antecedent unto its actings in all other duties and occasions; it is laying the foundation ; other things belong to the building. This is that you are called on to secure, and you may know it by these two properties :
1. It is singular. So our Saviour tells the Jews, John vi. 29. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. The act, work, or duty of faith in the receiving of Christ, is a peculiar singular work, wherein the soul yields especial obedience unto God; it is not to be reckoned unto such common duties as those mentioned, but the soul must find out wherein it hath in a singular manner closed with Christ upon the command of God.
2. It is accompanied with a universal spiritual change - in the whole soul. 2 Cor. v. 17. “If any man be in Christ, he
is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold al! things, are become new:' wherefore, if you would not choose rather to deceive and ruin your own souls, come to the trial whether indeed you have received Christ in such a singular transforming act of faith : do not on such pretences want a compliance with the word of exhortation proposed unto you. But,
Secondly, Some will say, they know not how to proceed in this work. They can make nothing of it; they have tried to come to this believing, but do still fail in what they design; they go on and off, but can make no progress, can come to no satisfaction ; therefore they think it best to let things go in general as they are, without putting themselves to farther trouble, as unto any especial act of faith in the receiving of Christ. This is the language of men's hearts, though not of their mouths, another shelter of unbelief, and they act accordingly; they have a secret despondency, which keeps them safe from attempting a real closure with Christ on the tender of the gospel : something may be offered unto this distempered frame of mind.
1. Remember the disciples that were fishing, and had toiled all night, but caught nothing, Luke v. 3, 4, upon the coming of Christ unto them, he requires that they should cast out their nets once more; Peter makes some excuse from the labour which they had taken in vain all night; however he would venture once more on the command of Christ, and had an astonishing draught of fishes, ver. 5—9. Have you been wearied with disappointments in your attempts and resolutions ? yet cast in your net this once more upon
the command of Christ, venture this once more to come unto him on his call and invitation, you know not what success he may give unto you.
2. Consider that it is not failing in this or that attempt of coming to Christ, but a giving over your endeavours that will be your ruin. The woman of Canaan, in her great outcry to Christ for mercy, Matt. xv. 22. had many a repulse: first, it is said, he answered her not a word ; then his disciples desired that he would send her away, that she might not trouble him any more; whereon he gives a reason why he would not regard her, or why he could justly pass her by;
she was not an Israelitess, unto whom he was sent; yet she gives not over, but pressing into his presence, cries out for mercy; ver. 25. being come to that issue, to try and draw out her faith to the utmost, which was his design from the beginning, he reckons her among dogs, that were not to have children's bread given unto them. Had she now at last given over upon this severe rebuke, she had never obtained mercy; but persisting in her request, she at last prevailed, ver. 27, 28. It may be you have prayed, and cried, and resolved, and vowed, but all without success as you suppose; sin hath broken through all: however, if you give not over, you shall prevail at last ; you know not at what time God will come in with his grace, and Christ will manifest his love unto you as unto the poor woman, after many a rebuke. It may be after all he will do it this day, and if not, he may do it another, do not despond. Take that word of Christ himself for your encouragement, Prov. viii. 34. • Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. If you hear him, and wait, though you have not yet admission, but are kept at the gates and posts of the doors, yet in the issue you shall be blessed.
3. The rule in this case is, Hos. vi. 3. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know.' Are you in the way of knowing Christ in the use of means, hearing the word, and sincere endeavours in holy duties; though you cannot yet attain unto any evidence that you have received him, have closed with him, nothing can ruin you but giving over the way wherein you are ; for then shall you know, if you follow on to know the Lord. Many can give you their experiences, that if they had been discouraged by present overwhelming difficulties, arising from their disappointments, breaking of vows, relapses into folly, they had been utterly ruined, whereas now they are at rest and peace in the bosom of Christ. On a great surprisal Christ lost at once many disciples, and they lost their souls, John vi. 66. “They went back, and walked no more with him ;' take heed of the like discouragements.
Thirdly, Some may say, yea, practically they do say, that these things indeed are necessary; they must come to Christ by believing, or they are undone; but this is not the season of it; there will be time enough to apply themselves unto it when other occasions are past. At present they have not leisure to enter upon, and go through with, this duty: wherefore they will abide in their present state for awhile, hearing and doing many things, and when time serves, will
will apply themselves unto this duty also.
1. This is an uncontrollable evidence of that sottishness and folly which is come upon our nature by sin. A depravation that the apostle places in the head of the evils of corrupted nature, Tit. iii. 3. Can any thing be more foolish, sottish, and stupid, than for men to put off the consideration of the eternal concernment of their souls for one hour, being altogether uncertain whether they shall live another or no? to prefer present trifles before the blessedness or misery of an immortal state? For those who never heard of these things, who never had any conviction of sin and judgment, to put the evil day far from them, is not much to be admired; but for you who have Christ preached unto you, who own a necessity of coming unto him, to put it off from day to day upon such slight pretences, it is an astonishable folly. May you not be spoken unto in the language of the wisdom of God; Prov. vi. 9—11. You come to hear the word, and when you go away, the language of your hearts is ; · Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep;' we will abide a little while in our present state, and afterward we will rouse up ourselves. Under this deceit do multitudes perish every day. This is a dark shade, wherein cursed unbelief lies hid.
2. Consider that this is the greatest engine that Satan makes use of in the world among them that hear the word preached unto them, for the ruin of their souls. He hath other arts and ways, and methods of dealing with other men, as by sensual and worldly lusts; but as unto them who through their convictions do attend unto the preaching of the word, this is his great and almost only engine for their ruin. There needs no haste in this matter, another time will be more seasonable, you may be sure not to fail of it before you die; however, this present day and time is most unfit for it, you have other things to do, you cannot part with your present frame, you may come again to hear the word the next opportunity. Know assuredly, if your minds