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been wiser to have sought Christ and grace, and set your affections first on things above, and to have made sure work for your soul against such a day as this, than to have hardened your heart against God's grace, and despised Christ, and heaven, and your salvation, for a thing of naught? You see now what it was that you preferred before heaven; what have you now got by all your sinful love of the world? where now is all your fleshly pleasure? Will it all now serve turn to save you from death, or the wrath of God, and everlasting misery? will it now go with you to another world? Or do you think it will comfort a soul in hell, to remember the wealth which he gathered and left behind him on earth? Would it not now have been much more comfortable to you, if you could say, 'My days were spent in holiness, in the love of my dear Redeemer, and in the hearty service of my God; in praising him and praying to him, in learning and obeying his holy Word and will; my business in the world was to please God, and seek a better world; and while I followed my lawful trade or calling, my eye was chiefly on eternal life; instead of pleasing the flesh, I delighted my soul in the love, and praise, and service of my Redeemer, and in the hopes of my eternal blessedness; and now I am going to enjoy that God and happiness which I believed and sought.' Would not this be more comfortable to you now, than to look back on your time as spent in a worldly, fleshly life, which you preferred before your God and your salvation? Christ would not have forsaken you in the time of your extremity, as the world doth, if you had cleaved faithfully to him. You little know what peace and comfort you might have found, even on earth, in a holy life; how sweet would the Word of God have been to you! How sweet would prayer, and meditation, and holy conference have been! Do you think it is not more pleasant to a true believer, to read the promises of eternal life, and to think and talk of that blessed state, when they shall dwell with God in joy for ever, than it was to you to think and talk of worldly trash and vanity? If you had used the world as a traveller doth the necessaries of his journey, the thought of heaven would have afforded you solid, rational comfort all the way. O little do you know the sweetness of the love of God in Christ, and how good a Christian findeth it, when he
can but exercise and increase his knowledge, and faith, and love to God, and thankfulness for mercy, and hopes of heaven, and walk with God in a heavenly conversation. Do you not wish now that this had been your course? But that which is done cannot be undone, and time that is past can never be called back: but yet there is a sure remedy for your soul, if you have but a heart to entertain and use it. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus Christ being God and man, is the Mediator between God and man; his death is a sufficient sacrifice for our sins; it is his office to save all those that come to God by him: do but unfeignedly repent of your sinful life, and yet set your heart upon the life to come, and love God and holiness, better than the world and fleshly pleasure, and trust your soul on Christ as your Redeemer, and he will certainly forgive you, and reconcile you unto God, and present you justified and spotless in his sight. Think of your sin till you abhor yourself: and think of your sin and misery till you feel that you are undone if you have not a Saviour: and then think what love God hath shewed you in Christ, in giving him to be incarnate and die for sinners, and offering you freely to pardon all that ever you have done, and to justify and save you, and bring you to endless glory with himself, if yet at last you will but give up yourself to Christ, and accept his mercy and return to God. What joyful tidings is here now for a sinful, miserable soul; yet this is the certain truth of God. This is his very covenant of grace, which is founded in the blood of Christ, and which he is now ready to make with you, and seal to you by his Spirit within, and his sacrament without, if you do but heartily and unfeignedly consent: believe in Christ, and turn to God, from the world and the flesh, and resolve upon a holy life if you should recover, and then I can assure you from the Word of God, that he will freely pardon you, and take you for his child, and save your soul in endless glory. As late as it is, he will certainly receive you, if you return to him by Christ with all your heart: and doth not your heart now rejoice in this unspeakable mercy, which is willing to save you after all the sin that you have committed, and after all the time that you have lost? Do
you not love that God that is so abundant in goodness and in love? and that Saviour who hath purchased you this pardon and salvation? Is it not better think you to love, and praise, and serve him, than to live in fleshly lusts and pleasures? and is it not better to dwell in heaven with him, in endless joys, than to live awhile in the vain delights of sinners, and thence to pass to endless misery? O beg of God now to give you a new heart to believe in Christ, and repent of sin, and love him that is most holy, good and gracious: and take heed that you slight not his grace any longer; and that you do not now take on you in a fear, to be that which you are not, or to do that which you would not hold to, if you should recover. And to make all sure, will you now sincerely enter into a covenant with Christ; I mean but the same covenant which you made in baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's supper; and which would have saved you, if you had sincerely made and kept it. Let me therefore help you both to understand it, and to do it by these Questions, which I entreat you to answer sincerely as one that is going to the presence of God.
Quest. 1. 'Do you truly believe that you are a rational creature, differing from brutes, being made to love and serve your Maker, and have an immortal soul, which must live in heaven or hell for ever? and that there is indeed a heaven of joys, and a hell of punishments when this life is ended?' Quest. 11. Do you believe that believe that in heaven, the souls of the justified at death, and the body also at the resurrection, shall be joined with the angels, and shall dwell with Christ, and see the glory of God, and be perfected in holiness, and filled with the sense of the love of God, and with the greatest joys that our nature can receive, and shall live in the most delightful love and praise of God for ever?'
Quest. 111. Seeing you are certain that all the pleasures of this life are short, and will end in death, and leave the flesh which desired them, in corruption, do you not firmly believe that the joys of heaven are infinitely better, and more to be desired and sought, than all the pleasures and profits of this life? and that it is most reasonable that we should love God above all creatures, even with all our heart, and soul, and might?'
Quest. IV. Seeing then that the love of God is both our
duty and happiness, is it not reason that we should be kept from the love of any thing in the world, which would steal away our hearts from God, and hinder us from loving him, and desiring, and seeking him? and that we should mortify the love of worldly riches, honours, and delights; so far as they are against the love of God?'
Quest. v. Seeing God is the absolute Lord and Ruler of the world, is it not reason that we obey him, whatsoever he commandeth us, though we did not see the reason why he doth command it? And yet is it not plainly reasonable, that he command us to love, and honour, and worship him; and to love one another, and to deal justly with all, and do as we would be done by, and to be careful of our souls, and temperate for our bodies; and not to neglect or dishonour our Maker, nor to neglect our own salvation, nor abuse our bodies by beastly filthiness or excess; nor to wrong our neighbours, nor deny to do them any good that is in our power. This is the sum of all God's laws; and this is the nature of holiness and obedience. And do you not from your heart believe, that all this is very reasonable and good?'
Quest. VI. When the sinful world was fallen from happiness into misery, by turning away from God and holiness to sensuality, and God sent his Son to be their Redeemer and Saviour; to be a sacrifice for sin, and a teacher and pattern of a holy and obedient life, and to make a new covenant with them, in which he giveth them the pardon of all sin, and everlasting happiness, if they will but give up themselves to him as their Saviour, and Sanctifier, and by true repentance turn to God: do you not verily believe that miserable sinners should gladly and thankfully accept of such an offer? And abundantly love that God and Saviour, that hath so tenderly loved them, and so freely redeemed them from the flames of hell, and so freely offered them everlasting life? And do you not believe that he, who after all this, shall slight all his mercy, and refuse to be renewed by sanctifying grace, and shall neglect his God, and soul, and this salvation, and rather choose to keep his sins; doth not deserve to be utterly forsaken, and to be punished more than if a Saviour and salvation had never been offered to him?'
Quest. VII. Hath not this been your own case? Have you not lived a fleshly, worldly life; neglecting God and your salvation; and minding more these lower things? and have you not refused the Word and Spirit of Christ, which would have brought you to repentance, and a holy life? and consequently rejected Christ as a Saviour, and the Holy Ghost as a Sanctifier; and all the mercy which he offered you on these terms?'
Quest. vIII. If this hath been your case, are you now unfeignedly grieved for it? Not only because it hath brought you so near to hell, but also because it hath displeased God, and deprived you of that holy and comfortable life, which you might all this while have lived, and endangered all your hopes of heaven? Do you so far repent, as that your very heart and love are changed: so that now you had rather have a holy life on earth, and the sight and enjoyment of God in the heavenly joys for ever, than to have all the pleasure and prosperity of this world? Do you hate your sins, and loathe yourself for them, and truly desire to be made holy? Are you firmly resolved, that if God do recover you to health, you will live a new and holy life? that you will forsake your fleshly, worldly life, and all your wilful sins; and will set yourself to learn the will of God, and call upon him, and live in the holy communion of saints, and make it your chief care to please God, and to be saved?'
Quest. Ix. Are you willing to these ends, to give up yourself absolutely now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as your reconciled Father, your Saviour, and your Sanctifier, to be sanctified and justified, and saved from your sins, and from the wrath of God, and live to God in love and holiness? And are you willing to bind yourself to this, by entering into this covenant with God, renouncing the flesh, the world, and the devil? Either your heart is willing and sincere in this resolution and covenant, or it is not. If it be not, there is no hope that your sin should be pardoned, and your soul be saved upon any other, or easier terms! And for all that God is merciful, and Christ died for sinners, it was never his intent to save one impenitent, unsanctified soul. But if your heart unfeignedly consent to this, I have the commission of Christ himself to tell you,