An earnest invitation to sinners to turn to God
MISTAKES about Conversion
The NATURE of Conversion
The NECESSITY of Conversion
The MARKS of the Unconverted
Miseries of the Unconverted
Directions to the Unconverted
Short Soliloquy for an Unregenerate Sinner
The Motives to Conversion
An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners
in a Serious Treatise on Conversion
by Joseph Alleine (1634-1668)
An earnest invitation to sinners to turn to God
I gladly acknowledge myself a debtor to you, and am concerned, as I would be
found a good steward of the household of God, to give to everyone his
portion. But the physician is most concerned for those patients whose case
is most doubtful and hazardous; and the father's pity is especially turned
towards his dying child. So unconverted souls call for earnest compassion
and prompt diligence to pluck them as brands from the burning (Jude 23).
Therefore it is to them I shall first apply myself in these pages.
But from where shall I fetch my argument? With what shall
I win them? O that I could tell! I would write to them in tears, I would
weep out every argument, I would empty my veins for ink, I would petition
them on my knees. O how thankful should I be if they would be prevailed with
to repent and turn.
How long have I labored for you! How often would I have
gathered you! This is what I have prayed for and studied for these many
years, that I might bring you to God. O that I might now do it! Will you yet
'But, O Lord, how insufficient I am for this work. Alas,
with what shall I pierce the scales of Leviathan, or make the heart feel
that is hard as the nether millstone? Shall I go and speak to the grave, and
expect the dead will obey me and come forth? Shall I make an oration to the
rocks, or declaim to the mountains, and think to move them with arguments?
Shall I make the blind to see? From the beginning of the world was it not
heard that a man opened the eyes of the blind (John 9:32). But, O Lord, You
can pierce the heart of the sinner. I can only draw the bow at a venture−but
may You direct the arrow between the joints of the harness. Slay the sin,
and save the soul of the sinner who casts his eyes on these pages.
There is no entering into heaven but by the strait
passage of the second birth; without holiness you shall never see God (Heb
12:14). Therefore give yourselves unto the Lord now. Set yourselves to seek
Him now. Set up the Lord Jesus in your hearts, and set Him up in your
houses. Kiss the Son (Psalm 2:12) and embrace the offers of mercy; touch His
scepter and live; for why will you die? I do not beg for myself−but would
have you happy: this is the prize I run for. My soul's desire and prayer for
you is, that you may be saved (Rom 10:1).
I beseech you to permit a friendly plainness and freedom
with you in your deepest concern. I am not playing the orator to make a
learned speech to you, nor dressing the dish with eloquence in order to
please you. These lines are upon a weighty errand indeed−to convince, and
convert, and save you. I am not baiting my hook with rhetoric, nor fishing
for your applause−but for your souls. My work is not to please you−but to
save you; nor is my business with your fancies−but with your hearts. If I
have not your hearts, I have nothing. If I were to please your ears, I would
sing another song. I could then tell you a smoother tale; I would make
pillows for you and speak peace, for how can Ahab love this Micaiah, who
always prophesies evil concerning him? (1 Kings 22:8). But how much better
are the wounds of a friend, than the fair speeches of the harlot, who
flatters with her lips, until the darts strike through the liver? (Prov
7:21−23 and Prov 6:26). If I were to quiet a crying infant, I might sing him
into a happier mood, or rock him asleep; but when the child is fallen into
the fire, the parent takes another course; he will not try to still him with
a song or trifle. I know, if we succeed not with you, you are lost; if we
cannot get your consent to arise and come away, you will perish forever.
No conversion−no salvation! I must get your goodwill, or leave you
But here the difficulty of my work again occurs to me. 'O
Lord, choose my stones out of the brook (1 Sam 17:40,45). I come in the name
of the Lord Almighty. I come forth, like the stripling David against
Goliath, to wrestle, not with flesh and blood−but with principalities and
powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph 6:12). This day let
the Lord smite the Philistines, spoil the strong man of his armor, and give
me the captives out of his hand. Lord, choose my words, choose my weapons
for me; and when I put my hand into the bag, and take out a stone and sling
it, may You carry it to the mark, and make it sink, not into the
forehead−but into the heart of the unconverted sinner, and smite him to the
ground like Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:4).'
Some of you do not know what I mean by conversion, and in
vain shall I attempt to persuade you to that which you do not understand.
Therefore for your sakes I will show what conversion is.
Others cherish secret hopes of mercy, though they
continue as they are. For them I must show the necessity of
Others are likely to harden themselves with a vain
conceit that they are converted already. To them I must show the marks
of the unconverted.
Others, because they feel no harm, fear none, and so
sleep as upon the top of a mast. To them I shall show the misery of
Others sit still, because they do not see the way of
escape. To them I shall show the means of conversion.
And finally, for the quickening of all, I shall close
with the motives to conversion.
The devil has made many counterfeits of conversion, and
cheats one with this, and another with that. He has such craft and artifice
in his mystery of deceits that, if it were possible, he would deceive the
very elect. Now, that I may cure the ruinous mistake of some who think they
are converted when they are not, as well as remove the troubles and fears of
others who think they are not converted when they are, I shall show you
the nature of conversion, both what it is not, and what it is.
We will begin with the negative.
What conversion is NOT.
Conversion is not the taking upon us the PROFESSION of Christianity.
Christianity is more than a name. If we will hear
Paul, it does not lie in word−but in power (1 Cor 4:20). If to
cease to be Jews and pagans, and to put on the Christian profession, had
been true conversion−as this is all that some would have to be understood by
it−who better Christians than they of Sardis and Laodicea? These were all
Christians by profession, and had a name to live only; but because they had
a name, they are condemned by Christ, and threatened to be rejected (Rev 3:14−16).
Are there not many that name the name of the Lord Jesus, that do
not depart from iniquity (2 Tim 2:19), and profess they know God−but in
works deny Him? (Titus 1:16). And will God receive these for true converts?
What! converts from sin, when they still live in sin? It is a visible
contradiction. Surely, if the lamp of profession would have served the turn,
the foolish virgins had never been shut out (Matt 25:12). We find not only
professing Christians−but preachers of Christ, and wonder−workers, rejected,
because they are evil−workers (Matt 7:22−23).
Conversion is not putting on the badge of Christ in BAPTISM.
Ananias and Sapphira, and Simon Magus were baptized as well as the rest.
How many make a mistake here,
deceiving and being deceived; dreaming that effectual grace is necessarily
tied to the external administration of baptism, so that every baptized
person is regenerated, not only sacramentally, but really and properly.
Hence men fancy that because they were regenerated when baptized, they need
no farther work. But if this were so, then all that have been baptized must
necessarily be saved, because the promise of pardon and salvation is made to
conversion and regeneration (Acts 3:19; Matt 19:28). And indeed, were
conversion and baptism the same, then men would do well to carry but a
certificate of their baptism when they died, and upon sight of this there
were no doubt of their admission into heaven.
In short, if there is nothing more to conversion, or
regeneration, than to be baptized, this will fly directly in the face of
that Scripture, Matt 7:13−14, as well as multitudes of others. If this is
true, we shall no more say, 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way' for
if all that are baptized are saved, the door is exceeding wide, and we shall
henceforth say, 'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads unto
life.' If this is true, thousands may go in abreast; and we will no more
teach that the righteous are scarcely saved, or that there is need of such a
stir in taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, and striving to enter in
(1 Pet 4:18; Matt 11:12; Luke 13:24). Surely, if the way be so easy as many
suppose, that little more is necessary than to be baptized and to cry out,
'Lord, have mercy', we need not put ourselves to such seeking, and knocking,
and wrestling, as the Word requires in order to salvation. Again, if this is
true, we shall no more say, 'Few there be that find it'; we will rather say,
'Few there be that miss it.' We shall no more say, that of the many that are
called, only 'few are chosen' (Matt 22:14), and that even of the professing
Israel but a remnant shall be saved (Rom 9:27). If this doctrine is true, we
shall no more say with the disciples, 'Who then shall be saved?' [Matt
19:25] but rather, 'Who then shall not be saved?' Then, if a man be
baptized, though he is a fornicator, or a railer or covetous, or a
drunkard−yet he shall inherit the kingdom of God! (1 Cor 5:11 and
1 Cor 6:9−10).
But some will reply, 'Such as these, though they received
regenerating grace in baptism, are since fallen away, and must be renewed
again, or else they cannot be saved.'
I answer, 1. There is an infallible connection between
regeneration and salvation, as we have already shown. 2. Then man must be
again born again, which carries a great deal of absurdity in its face. We
might as well expect men to be twice born in nature as twice born in grace!
But, 3, and above all, this grants the thing I contend for, that whatever
men do or pretend to receive in baptism, if they are found afterwards to be
grossly ignorant, or profane, or formal, without the power of godliness,
they 'must be born again' (John 3:7) or else be shut out of the kingdom of
God. So then they must have more to plead for themselves than their
Well, in this you see all are agreed, that, be it more or
less that is received in baptism, if men are evidently unsanctified, they
must be renewed by a thorough and powerful change, or else they cannot
escape the damnation of hell. 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked.'[Gal 6:7]
Whether it be your baptism, or whatever else you pretend, I tell you from
the living God, that if any of you be a prayerless person, or a scoffer, or
a lover of evil company (Prov 13:20), in a word, if you are not a holy,
strict, and self−denying Christian, you cannot be saved (Heb 12:14; Matt
Conversion does not lie in MORAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.
This does not exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,
and therefore cannot bring us to the kingdom of God (Matt 5:20). Paul, while
unconverted, touching the righteousness which is in the law was blameless
(Phil 3:6). The Pharisee could say, 'I am no extortioner, adulterer,
unjust', etc. (Luke 18:11). You must have something more than all this to
show, or else, however you may justify yourself, God will condemn you. I do
not condemn morality−but I warn you not to rest in it. Piety includes
morality−but morality does not insure piety.
Conversion does not consist in an external conformity to
the rules of piety. It is manifest
that men may have a form of godliness, without the power (2 Tim 3:5). Men
may pray long (Matt 23:14), and fast often (Luke 18:12), and hear gladly
(Mark 6:20), and be very forward in the service of God, though costly and
expensive (Isa 1:11), and yet be strangers to conversion. They must have
more to plead for themselves than that they go to church, give alms, and
make use of prayer, to prove themselves sound converts. There is no
outward service but a hypocrite may do it, even to the giving of all his
goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned (1 Cor 13:3).
Conversion is not the mere chaining up of corruption by
EDUCATION, human laws or the force of affliction. It is too
common and easy to mistake education for grace; but if this were enough, who
a better man than Jehoash? While Jehoiada, his uncle, lived, he was very
forward in God's service, and calls upon him to repair the house of the Lord
(2 Kings 12:2,7). But here was nothing more than good education all this
while; for when his good tutor was taken away he appears to have been but a
wolf chained up, and falls into idolatry.
In short, conversion does not consist in ILLUMINATION or CONVICTION
or in a SUPERFICIAL CHANGE or PARTIAL REFORMATION. An apostate may
be an enlightened man (Heb 6:4), and a Felix tremble under conviction
(Acts 24:25), and a Herod do many things (Mark 6:20). It is one thing to have sin
alarmed only by convictions, and another to have it crucified by converting
grace. Many, because they have been troubled in conscience for their sins,
think well of their case, miserably mistaking conviction for conversion.
With these, Cain might have passed for a convert, who ran up and down the
world like a man distracted, under the rage of a guilty conscience, until he
stifled it with building and business.
Others think that because they have given up their
riotous ways, and are broken off from evil company or some particular lust,
and are reduced to sobriety and civility, they are now real converts. They
forget that there is a vast difference between being sanctified and
civilized. They forget that many seek to enter into the kingdom of heaven,
and are not far from it, and arrive to the almost of Christianity, and yet
fall short at last. While conscience holds the whip over them, many will
pray, hear, read, and forbear their delightful sins; but no sooner is the
lion asleep than they are at their sins again. Who more religious than the
Jews when God's hand was upon them? Yet no sooner was the affliction over,
than they forgot God. You may have forsaken a troublesome sin, and have
escaped the gross pollutions of the world, and yet in all this not have
changed your carnal nature.
You may take a crude mass of lead and mold it into the
more lovely proportion of a plant, and then into the shape of an animal, and
then into the form and features of a man; but all the time it is still lead.
So a man may pass through various transmutations, from ignorance to
knowledge, from profanity to civility, then to a form of religion, and all
this time he is still carnal and unregenerate, his nature remains unchanged.
Hear then, O sinners, hear as you would live. Why should
you willfully deceive yourselves, or build your hopes upon the sand? I know
that he will find hard work, who goes to pluck away your hopes. It cannot
but be unpleasant to you, and truly it is not pleasing to me. I set about it
as a surgeon when about to cut off a mortified limb from his beloved friend,
which of necessity he must do, though with an aching heart. But understand
me, beloved, I am only taking down the ruinous house, which otherwise will
speedily fall of itself and bury you in the ruins−that I may build it fair,
strong, and firm forever. The hope of the wicked shall perish (Prov 11:7).
And had you not better, O sinner, let the Word convince you now in time, and
let go your false and self−deluding hopes, than have death open your eyes
too late, and find yourself in hell before you are aware?
I would be a false and faithless shepherd if I would not
tell you, that you who have built your hopes upon no better grounds than
these before mentioned, are yet in your sins! Let conscience speak. What
have you to plead for yourselves? Is it that you wear Christ's livery; that
you bear His name; that you are a member of the visible church; that you
have knowledge in the points of religion, are civilized, perform religious
duties, are just in your dealings, have been troubled in conscience for your
sins? I tell you from the Lord, these pleas will never be accepted at God's
bar. All this, though good in itself, will not prove you converted, and so
will not suffice to your salvation. O look to it, and resolve to turn
speedily and entirely. Study your own hearts; do not rest until God has made
thorough work with you; for you must be converted men, or else you are lost
But if these persons come short of conversion, what shall
I say of the profane person? It may be he will scarcely cast his eyes on, or
lend his ear to this discourse; but if there be any such reading, or within
hearing, he must know from the Lord that made him, that he is far from the
kingdom of God. May a man keep company with the wise virgins, and yet be
shut out; and shall not a companion of fools much more be destroyed? May a
man be true in his dealings, and yet not be justified before God? What then
will become of you, O wretched man, whose conscience tells you that you are
false in your trade and false to your word? If men may be enlightened and
brought to the external performance of holy duties, and yet go down to
perdition for resting in them and sitting down short of conversion; what
will become of you, O miserable men, who live without God in the world? What
will become of you, O wretched sinners, with whom God is scarcely in all
your thoughts; who are so ignorant that you cannot pray, or so careless that
you will not? O repent and be converted, break off your sins by
righteousness. Away to Christ for pardoning and renewing grace. Give up
yourselves to Him, to walk with Him in holiness, or you shall never see God.
O that you would heed the warnings of God! In His name I once more admonish
you. Turn you at my reproof. Forsake the foolish, and live. Be sober,
righteous, and godly. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you
double−minded. Cease to do evil, learn to do well (Prov 1:23 and Prov 9:6;
Titus 2:12; James 4:8; Isa 1:16−17). But if you will go on, you must die.
I dare not leave you with your eyes half open, like him
who saw 'men as trees walking' [Mark 8:24]. The Word is profitable for
doctrine as well as reproof. And therefore, having thus far conducted you by
the shelves and rocks of so many dangerous mistakes, I would guide you at
length into the haven of truth.
Conversion then, in short, lies in the thorough change
both of the heart and life. I shall briefly describe it in its nature and
1. The AUTHOR of conversion is the Spirit of God,
and therefore it is called 'the sanctification of the Spirit' (2 Thess 2:13)
and 'the renewing of the Holy Spirit' (Titus 3:5). This does not exclude the
other persons in the Trinity, for the apostle teaches us to bless the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 'has begotten us again unto a living hope' (1
Pet 1:3). And Christ is said to 'give repentance unto Israel' (Acts 5:31);
and is called the 'everlasting Father' (Isa 9:6) and we His seed, and 'the
children whom God has given Him' (Heb 2:13). Yet this work is principally
ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and so we are said to be 'born of the Spirit'
So then, conversion is a work above man's power. We are
'born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
man−but of God' (John 1:13). Never think you can convert yourself. If ever
you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own
strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Eph 2:1), a new creation (Gal
6:15; Eph 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Eph 1:19). Are not these
out of the reach of human power? If you have no more than you had by your
first birth−a good nature, a meek and chaste temper etc.−you are a stranger
to true conversion. Conversion is a supernatural work.
2. The efficient CAUSE of conversion is both internal and
 The INTERNAL cause is free grace alone.
'Not by works of righteousness which we have done−but of his mercy he saved
us', and 'by the renewing of the Holy Spirit' (Titus 3:5). 'Of his own will
he begat us' (James 1:18). We are chosen and called unto sanctification, not
for it (Eph 1:4).
God finds nothing in man to turn His heart−but enough to
turn His stomach; He finds enough to provoke His loathing−but nothing to
excite His love. Look back upon yourself, O Christian! Reflect upon your
swinish nature, your filthy swill, your once beloved mire (2 Pet 2). Behold
your slime and corruption. Do not your own clothes abhor you? (Job 9:31).
How then should holiness and purity love you? Be astonished, O heavens, at
this; be moved, O earth. Who but must needs cry, Grace! Grace! (Zech 4:7).
Hear and blush, you children of the Most High God. O unthankful men, that
free grace is no more in your mouths, in your thoughts; no more adored,
admired and commended by such as you! One would think you should be doing
nothing but praising and admiring God wherever you are. How can you forget
such grace, or pass it over with a slight and formal mention? What but free
grace could move God to love you, unless enmity could do it, unless
deformity could do it? How affectionately Peter lifts up his hands, 'Blessed
be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who in his abundant mercy has
begotten us again.' [1 Pet 1:3] How feelingly does Paul magnify the free
mercy of God in it, 'God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith
he loved us, has quickened us together with Christ. By grace are you saved'
 The EXTERNAL cause is the merit and intercession of
the blessed Jesus. He has obtained gifts for the rebellious
(Psalm 68:18), and through Him it is that God works in us that which is
well−pleasing in His sight (Heb 13:21). Through Him are all spiritual
blessings bestowed upon us in heavenly places (Eph 1:3). He intercedes for
the elect that believe not (John 17:20). Every convert is the fruit of His
travail. Never was an infant born into the world with that difficulty which
Christ endured for us. All the pains that He suffered on the cross were our
birth−pains. He is made sanctification to us (1 Cor 1:30). He sanctified
Himself, that is, set apart Himself as a sacrifice, that we might be
sanctified (John 17:19). We are sanctified through the offering of His body
once for all (Heb 10:10).
It is nothing, then, but the merit and intercession of
Christ, that prevails with God to bestow on us converting grace. If you are
a new creature, you know to whom you owe it; to Christ's pangs and prayers.
The foal does not more naturally run after the dam, nor the suckling to the
bosom, than a believer to Jesus Christ. And where else should you go? If any
in the world can show for your heart what Christ can, let them do it. Does
Satan claim you? Does the world court you? Does sin sue for your heart? Why,
were these crucified for you? O Christian, love and serve your Lord while
you have a being.
3. The INSTRUMENT of conversion is personal and real.
 The PERSONAL instrument is the ministry.
'In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel' (1 Cor 4:15).
Christ's ministers are those who are sent to open men's eyes, and to turn
them to God (Acts 26:18). O unthankful world! Little do you know what you
are doing when you are persecuting the messengers of the Lord. These are
they whose business it is, under Christ, to save you. Whom have you
reproached and blasphemed? (Isa 37:23). These are the servants of the most
high God that show unto you the way of salvation (Acts 16:17), and do you
requite them thus, O foolish and unwise? (Deut 32:6). O sons of ingratitude,
against whom do you sport yourselves? These are the instruments that God
uses to convert and save sinners: and do you revile your physicians, and
throw your pilots overboard? 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what
they do.' [Luke 23:34]
 The REAL instrument is the Word. We are begotten by
the word of truth. It is this that enlightens the eye, that
converts the soul (Psalm 19:7−8), that makes us wise to salvation (2 Tim
3:15). This is the incorruptible seed by which we are born again (1 Pet
1:23). If we are washed, it is by the Word (Eph 5:26). If we are sanctified,
it is through the truth (John 17:17). This generates faith, and regenerates
us (Rom 10:17; James 1:18).
O you saints, how you should love the Word, for by this
you have been converted! You that have felt its renewing power, make much of
it while you live; be ever thankful for it. Tie it about your neck, write it
upon your hand, lay it in your bosom. When you go let it lead you, when you
sleep let it keep you, when you wake let it talk with you (Prov 6:21−22).
Say with the Psalmist, 'I will never forget your precepts, for by them you
have quickened me' (Psalm 119:93). You who are unconverted, read the Word
with diligence; flock to where it is powerfully preached. Pray for the
coming of the Spirit in the Word. Come from your knees to the sermon, and
come from the sermon to your knees. The sermon does not prosper−because it
is not watered by prayers and tears, nor covered by meditation.
4. The final END of conversion is man's salvation, and
God's glory.We are chosen through
sanctification to salvation (2 Thess 2:13), called that we might be
glorified (Rom 8:30), but especially that God might be glorified (Isa
60:21), that we should show forth His praises (1 Pet 2:9), and be fruitful
in good works (Col 1:10).
O Christian, do not forget the end of your calling. Let
your light shine, let your lamp burn, let your fruits be good and many and
in season (Psalm 1:3). Let all your designs fall in with God's, that He may
be magnified in you (Phil 1:20).
5. The SUBJECT of conversion is the elect sinner−and that
in all his parts and powers, members and mind.
Whom God predestinates, them only He calls (Rom 8:30). None are
drawn to Christ by their calling, nor come to Him by believing−but His
sheep, those whom the Father has given Him (John 6:37,44). Effectual calling
runs parallel with eternal election (2 Pet 1:10).
You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about
your election. Prove your conversion, and then never doubt your election. If
you cannot yet prove it, set upon a present and thorough turning. Whatever
God's purposes be, which are secret, I am sure His promises are plain. How
desperately do rebels argue! 'If I am elected I shall be saved, do what I
will. If not, I shall be damned, do what I can.' Perverse sinner, will you
begin where you should end? Is not the word before you? What says it?
'Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.' 'If you
mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.' 'Believe and be saved' (Acts
3:19; Rom 8:13; Acts 16:31). What can be plainer? Do not stand still
disputing about your election−but set to repenting and believing. Cry to God
for converting grace. Revealed things belong to you; in these busy yourself.
It is just, as one well said, that they who will not feed on the plain food
of the Word should be choked with the bones. Whatever God's purposes may be,
I am sure His promises are true. Whatever the decrees of heaven may be, I am
sure that if I repent and believe, I shall be saved; and that if I do not
repent, I shall be damned. Is not this plain ground for you; and will you
yet run upon the rocks?
More particularly, this change of conversion extends to
the whole man. A carnal person may have some shreds of good morality−but he
is never good throughout the whole cloth. Conversion is not a repairing of
the old building; but it takes all down, and erects a new structure. It is
not the sewing on a patch of holiness; but with the true convert, holiness
is woven into all his powers, principles and practice. The sincere Christian
is quite a new fabric, from the foundation to the top−stone. He is a new
man, a new creature; all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17). Conversion is a
deep work, a heart work. It makes a new man in a new world. It extends to
the whole man, to the mind, to the members, to the motions of the whole
 The MIND.
Conversion turns the balance of the judgment, so that God
and His glory outweigh all carnal and worldly interests. It opens the eye of
the mind, and makes the scales of its native ignorance fall off, and turns
men from darkness to light. The man who before saw no danger in his
condition, now concludes himself lost and forever undone (Acts 2:37) except
renewed by the power of grace. He who formerly thought there was little hurt
in sin, now comes to see it to be the chief of evils. He sees the
unreasonableness, the unrighteousness, the deformity and the filthiness of
sin; so that he is affrighted with it, loathes it, dreads it, flees from it,
and even abhors himself for it (Rom 7:15; Job 42:6; Ezek 36:31). He who
could see little sin in himself, and could find no matter for confession,
now sees the rottenness of his heart, the desperate and deep pollution of
his whole nature. He cries, 'Unclean! Unclean! Lord, purge me with hyssop,
wash me thoroughly, create in me a clean heart.' He sees himself altogether
filthy, corrupt both root and branch (Psalm 14:3; Matt 7:17−18). He writes
'unclean' upon all his parts, and powers, and performances (Isa 64:6; Rom
7:18). He discovers the filthy corners that he was never aware of, and sees
the blasphemy, and theft, and murder, and adultery, that is in his heart, of
which before he was ignorant. Hitherto he saw no form nor loveliness in
Christ, no beauty that he should desire Him; but now he finds the Hidden
Treasure, and will sell all to buy this field. Christ is the Pearl he seeks.
Now, according to this new light, the man is of another
mind, another judgment, than he was before. Now God is all with him, he has
none in heaven nor in earth like Him; he truly prefers Him before all the
world. His favor is his life, the light of His countenance is more than corn
and wine and oil (the good that he formerly enquired after, and set his
heart upon. Psalm 4:6−7). A hypocrite may come to yield a general assent
that God is the chief good; indeed, the wiser heathens, some few of them,
have at least stumbled upon this. But no hypocrite comes so far as to look
upon God as the most desirable and suitable good to him, and thereupon to
acquiesce in Him. This is the convert's voice: 'The Lord is my portion, says
my soul. Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none upon earth that I
desire beside you. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever'
(Lam 3:24; Psalm 73:25−26).
Conversion turns the bias of the WILL both as to
means and end. The intentions of the will are altered. Now the man has new
ends and designs. He now intends God above all, and desires and designs
nothing in all the world, so much as that Christ may be magnified in him. He
counts himself more happy in this than in all that the earth could yield,
that he may be serviceable to Christ, and bring Him glory. This is the mark
he aims at, that the name of Jesus may be great in the world.
Reader, do you read this without asking yourself whether
it be thus with you? Pause a while, and examine yourself.
The CHOICE is also changed. He pitches upon God
as his blessedness, and upon Christ and holiness as means to bring him
to God. He chooses Jesus for his Lord. He is not merely forced to
Christ by the storm, nor does he take Christ for bare necessity−but he comes
freely. His choice is not made in a fright, as with the terrified
conscience, or the dying sinner−who will seemingly do anything for
Christ−but only takes Christ rather than hell. He deliberately resolves that
Christ is his best choice, and would rather have Him than all the good of
this world, might he enjoy it while he would (Phil 1:23). Again, he takes
holiness for his path; he does not out of mere necessity submit to
it−but he likes it and loves it. 'I have chosen the way of your precepts'
(Psalm 119:173). He takes God's testimonies not as his bondage−but
his heritage; yes, heritage forever. He counts them not his burden−but his
bliss; not his cords−but his cordials (1 John 5:3; Psalm 119:14,16,47). He
does not only bear−but takes up Christ's yoke. He takes not holiness as the
stomach does the loathed medicine, which a man will take rather than die−but
as the hungry man does his beloved food. No time passes so sweetly with him,
when he is himself, as that which he spends in the exercises of holiness.
These are both his nutriment and element, the desire of his eyes and the joy
of his heart.
Put it to your conscience whether you are the man. O
happy man, if this be your case! But see that you are thorough and impartial
in the search.
Conversion turns the bent of the AFFECTIONS. These
all run in a new channel. The Jordan is now driven back, and the water runs
upwards against its natural course. Christ is his hope. This is his prize.
Here his eye is: here his heart. He is content to cast all overboard, as the
merchant in the storm about to perish−so he may but keep this jewel.
The first of his desires is not after gold−but grace. He
hungers for it, he seeks it as silver, he digs for it as for hidden
treasure. He had rather be gracious than great. He had rather be the holiest
man on earth than the most learned, the most famous, the most prosperous.
While carnal, he said, 'O if I were but in great esteem, rolling in wealth,
and swimming in pleasure; if my debts were paid, and I and mine provided
for, then I would be a happy man.' But now the tune is changed. 'Oh!' says
the convert, 'if I had but my corruptions subdued, if I had such a measure
of grace, and fellowship with God, though I were poor and despised−I would
not care, I would account myself a blessed man.' Reader, is this the
language of your soul?
His JOYS are changed. He rejoices in the way of
God's testimonies as much as in all riches. He delights in the law of the
Lord, in which he once had little savor. He has no such joy as in the
thoughts of Christ, the enjoyment of His company, the prosperity of His
His CARES are quite altered. He was once set for
the world, and any scrap of spare time was enough for his soul. Now his cry
is, 'What must I do to be saved?' (Acts 16:30). His great concern is how to
secure his soul. O how he would bless you, if you could but put him out of
doubt concerning this!
His FEARS are not so much of suffering−as of
sinning. Once he was afraid of nothing so much as the loss of his estate or
reputation; nothing sounded so terrible to him as pain, or poverty, or
disgrace. Now these are little to him, in comparison with God's dishonor or
displeasure. How warily does he walk, lest he should tread upon a snare! He
looks in front, and behind: he has his eye upon his heart, and is often
casting it over his shoulder, lest he should be overtaken with sin. It kills
his heart to think of losing God's favor; this he dreads as his only
undoing. No thought pains him so much as to think of parting with Christ.
His LOVE runs in a new course. 'My Love was
crucified', says Ignatius, that is, my Christ. 'This is my beloved', says
the spouse (Song 5:16). How often does Augustine pour his love upon Christ!
He can find no words sweet enough. 'Let me see You, O Light of my eyes.
Come, O Joy of my spirit; Let me behold You, O Gladness of my heart. Let me
love You, O Life of my soul. Appear unto me, O my great delight, my sweet
comfort, O my God, my life, and the whole glory of my soul. Let me find You,
O Desire of my heart; let me hold You, O Love of my soul. Let me embrace
You, O Heavenly Bridegroom. Let me possess You.'
His SORROWS have now a new vent (2 Cor 7:9−10).
The view of his sins, the sight of Christ crucified−which could scarcely
stir him before, now how much do they affect his heart!
His hatred boils, his anger burns against sin. He
has no patience with himself; he calls himself fool, and beast; and thinks
any name too good for himself, when his indignation is stirred up against
sin (Psalm 73:22; Prov 30:2). He could once wallow in it with much pleasure;
now he loathes the thought of returning to it as much as of licking up the
Commune then with your own heart, and attend to the
general current of your affections, whether they be towards God in Christ
above all other concerns. Indeed, sudden and strong motions of the
affections are often found in hypocrites, especially where the natural
temperament is warm. And contrariwise, the sanctified themselves are often
without conscious stirring of the affections, where the temperament is more
slow, dry, and dull. The great inquiry is, whether the judgment and will are
steadily determined for God above all other good, real or apparent. If so,
and if the affections do sincerely follow their choice and conduct, though
it be not so strongly and feelingly as is to be desired, there is no doubt
but the change is saving.
 The MEMBERS.
These members which before were the instruments of
sin−are now become the holy utensils of Christ's living temple. He who
before dishonored his body, now possesses his vessel in sanctification and
honor, in temperance, chastity, and sobriety, and dedicates it to the Lord.
The EYE, which was once a wandering eye, a wanton
eye, a haughty, a covetous eye−is now employed, as Mary's, in weeping over
its sins, in beholding God in His works, in reading His Word, or in looking
for objects of mercy and opportunities for His service.
The EAR, which was once open to Satan's call, and
which did relish nothing so much as filthy, or at least frothy talk, and the
laughter of fools−is now bored to the door of Christ's house, and open to
His disciples. It says, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.' [1 Sam 3:10]
It waits for His words as the rain, and relishes them more than the
appointed food (Job 23:12), more than the honey and the honeycomb (Psalm
The HEAD, which was full of worldly designs−is now
filled with other matters, and set on the study of God's will, and the man
employs his head, not so much about his gain−as about his duty. The thoughts
and cares that fill his head are, principally, how he may please God and
His HEART, which was a sty of filthy lusts−is now
become an altar of incense, where the fire of divine love is ever kept
burning, and from which the daily sacrifice of prayer and praise, and the
sweet incense of holy desires, ejaculations and prayers, are continually
The MOUTH is become a well of life; his tongue
as choice silver, and his lips feed many. Now the salt of grace
has seasoned his speech, has eaten out the corruption (Col 4:6), and
cleansed the man from his filthy conversation, flattery, boasting, railing,
lying, swearing, backbiting−−which once came like flashes proceeding from
the hell which was in the heart (James 3:6). The throat, that once
was an open sepulcher, now sends forth the sweet breath of prayer and holy
discourse, and the man speaks in another tongue, in the language of Canaan,
and is never so well as when talking of God and Christ, and the matters of
another world. His mouth brings forth wisdom; his tongue is
become the silver trumpet of his Maker's praise, his glory and the best
member that he has.
Now here you will find the hypocrite sadly deficient. He
speaks, it may be, like an angel−but he has a covetous eye, or the gain of
unrighteousness is in his hand. His hand is white−but his heart is full of
rottenness (Matt 23:27), full of unmortified cares, a very oven of lust, a
shop of pride, the seat of malice. It may be, with Nebuchadnezzar's image,
he has a golden head−a great deal of knowledge; but he has feet of
clay−his affections are worldly, he minds earthly things, and his way
and walk are sensual and carnal. The work is not thorough with him.
 The LIFE and PRACTICE.
The new man takes a new course (Eph 2:2−3). His
conversation is in heaven (Phil 3:20). No sooner does Christ call by
effectual grace but he straightway becomes a follower of Him. When God has
given the new heart, and written His law in his mind−he henceforth walks in
His statutes and keeps His judgments.
Though sin may dwell in him−truly a wearisome and
unwelcome guest−yet it has no more dominion over him. He has his fruit unto
holiness, and though he makes many a blot−yet the law and life of Jesus is
what he looks at as his pattern, and he has an unfeigned respect to all
God's commandments. He makes conscience even of little sins and little
duties. His very infirmities which he cannot help, though he would, are his
soul's burden, and are like dust in a man's eye, which though but little−is
not a little troublesome. (O man, do you read this, and never stop to
The sincere convert is not one man at church−and another
at home. He is not a saint on his knees−and a cheat in his shop. He will not
tithe mint and cummin, and neglect mercy and judgment, and the weightier
matters of the law. He does not pretend piety−and neglect morality. But he
turns from all his sins and keeps all God's statutes, though not perfectly,
except in desire and endeavor−yet sincerely, not allowing himself in the
breach of any. Now he delights in the Word, and sets himself to prayer, and
opens his hand and draws out his soul to the hungry. He breaks off his sins
by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor (Dan
4:27). He has a good conscience willing in all things to live honestly (Heb
13:18), and to keep without offence towards God and men.
Here again you find the unsoundness of many, who take
themselves for good Christians. They are partial in the law (Mal 2:9), and
take up the cheap and easy duties of religion−but they do not
go through with the whole work. They are as a cake half−baked and half−raw.
It may be, you find them exact in their words, punctual in their
dealings−but then they do not exercise themselves unto godliness; and as for
examining themselves and governing their hearts, to this they are strangers.
You may see them duly at church; but follow them to their families, and
there you shall see little but the world minded. Or if they have family
duties, follow them to their closets, and there you shall find their souls
are little looked after. It may be that they seem religious−but they do not
bridle their tongues, and so all their religion is vain (James 1:26). It may
be they come to closet and family prayer; but follow them to their shops,
and there you find them in the habit of lying, or some fashionable way of
deceit. Thus the hypocrite is not thorough in his obedience.
6. The OBJECTS from which we turn in conversion are, sin,
Satan, the world, and our own righteousness.
 We turn from SIN. When a man is converted,
he is forever at enmity with sin; yes, with all sin−but most of all with his
own sins, and especially with his bosom sin. Sin is now the object of his
indignation. His sin swells his sorrows. It is sin which pierces him and
wounds him; he feels it like a thorn in his side, like a splinter in his
eye. He groans and struggles under it, and not formally−but feelingly cries
out, 'O wretched man!' [Rom 7:24] He is not impatient of any burden−so much
as of his sin. If God should give him his choice, he would choose any
affliction so he might be rid of sin; he feels it like the cutting gravel in
his shoes, pricking and paining him as he goes.
Before conversion he had light thoughts of sin. He
cherished it in his bosom, as Uriah his lamb; he nourished it up, and it
grew up together with him; it did eat, as it were, of his own plate, and
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him as a sweet
daughter. But when God opens his eyes by conversion, he throws it away with
abhorrence, as a man would a loathsome toad, which in the dark he had hugged
fast in his bosom, and thought it had been some pretty and harmless bird.
When a man is savingly changed, he is deeply convinced not only of the
danger but the defilement of sin; and O, how earnest is he with
God to be purified! He loathes himself for his sins. He runs to Christ, and
casts himself into the fountain set open for him and for uncleanness. If he
falls into sin, what a stir is there to get all clean again! He has no rest
until he flees to the Word, and washes and rubs and rinses in the infinite
fountain, laboring to cleanse himself from all filthiness both of flesh and
The sound convert is heartily engaged against sin. He
struggles with it, he wars against it; he is too often foiled−but he will
never yield the cause, nor lay down the weapons, while he has breath in his
body. He will make no peace; he will give no quarter. He can forgive his
other enemies, he can pity them and pray for them; but here he is
implacable, here he is set upon their extermination. He hunts as it were for
the precious life; his eye shall not pity, his hand shall not spare, though
it be a right hand or a right eye. Be it a gainful sin, most delightful to
his nature or the support of his esteem with worldly friends−yet he will
rather throw his gain down into the gutter, see his credit fail, or the
flower of his pleasure wither in his hand−than he will allow himself in any
known way of sin. He will grant no indulgence, he will give no toleration.
He draws upon sin wherever he meets it, and frowns upon it with this
unwelcome salute, 'Have I found you, O my enemy!'
Reader, has conscience been at work while you have been
looking over these lines? Have you pondered these things in your heart? Have
you searched the book within, to see if these things are so? If not, read it
again, and make your conscience speak, whether or not it is thus with you.
Have you crucified your flesh with its affections and
lusts; and not only confessed−but forsaken your sins, all sin in your
fervent desires, and the ordinary practice of every deliberate and wilful
sin in your life? If not, you are yet unconverted. Does not conscience fly
in your face as you read, and tell you that you live in a way of lying for
your advantage? that you use deceit in your calling? that there is some way
of secret sin that you live in? Why then, do not deceive yourself. 'You are
in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.' [Acts 8:23]
Does your unbridled tongue, your indulgence of appetite,
your wicked company, your neglect of prayer, of reading and hearing the
Word, now witness against you, and say, 'We are your works, and we will
follow you'? Or, if I have not hit you right, does not the monitor within
tell you, there is such and such a way that you know to be evil, that yet
for some carnal respect you tolerate in yourself? If this be the case, you
are to this day unregenerate, and must be changed or condemned.
 We turn from SATAN. Conversion binds the
strong man, spoils his armor, casts out his goods, and turns men from the
power of Satan unto God. Before, the devil could no sooner hold up his
finger to the sinner to call him to his wicked company, sinful games, and
filthy delights−but immediately he followed, 'like an ox going to the
slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his
liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his
life' (Prov 7:22−23). No sooner could Satan bid him lie−but immediately he
had it on his tongue. No sooner could Satan offer a filthy object−but he was
overcome with lust. If the devil says, 'Away with these family duties', be
sure they shall be rarely performed in his house. If the devil says, 'Away
with this strictness, this preciseness' he will keep far enough from it. If
he tells him, 'There is no need of these secret−duties', he will go from day
to day and scarcely perform them. But after he is converted he serves
another Master, and takes quite another course; he goes and comes at
Christ's bidding. Satan may sometimes catch his foot in a trap−but he will
no longer be a willing captive. He watches against the snares and baits of
Satan, and studies to be acquainted with his devices. He is very suspicious
of his plots, and is very jealous in what comes across him, lest Satan
should have some design upon him. He wrestles against principalities and
powers; he entertains the messenger of Satan as men do the messenger of
death. He keeps his eye upon his enemy, and watches in his duties, lest
Satan should get an advantage.
 We turn from the WORLD. Before a man has
true faith, he is overcome by the world. He either bows down to mammon, or
idolizes his reputation, or is a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God.
Here is the root of man's misery by the fall. He is turned aside to the
creature, and gives that esteem, confidence and affection to the
creature−which is due to God alone.
O miserable man, what a deformed monster has sin made
you! God made you a little lower than the angels; sin has made you little
better than the devils! Sin has made you a monster that has his head and his
heart where his feet should be−−and his feet kicking against heaven−−and
everything out of place. The world which was formed to
serve you−−now rules you! The deceitful harlot has
bewitched you with her enchantments−−and made you bow down and serve her!
But converting grace sets all in order again, and puts
God on the throne, and the world at his footstool; Christ in the heart, and
the world under the feet. 'I am crucified to the world, and the world to me'
(Gal 6:14). Before this change, all the cry was 'Who will show us any
worldly good?' but now he prays, 'Lord, lift you up the light of your
countenance upon me', and take the corn and wine whoever will (Psalm 4:6−7).
Before, his heart's delight and content were in the world; then the song
was, 'Soul, take your ease−eat, drink, and be merry! You have much goods
laid up for many years.' [Luke 12:19] But now all this is withered, and
there is no loveliness, that we should desire it; and he tunes up with the
sweet psalmist of Israel, 'The Lord is the portion of my inheritance; the
lines are fallen to me in a fair place, and I have a goodly heritage.'
[Psalm 16:5−6] Nothing else can make him content. He has written vanity and
vexation upon all his worldly enjoyments, and loss and dross upon all human
excellencies. He has life and immortality now in pursuit. He pants for grace
and glory, and has an incorruptible crown in view. His heart is set to seek
the Lord. He first seeks the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and
religion is no longer a casual matter with him−but his main care. Before,
the world had the sway with him. He would do more for gain than
godliness−more to please his friend or his flesh, than the God that made
him; and God must stand by until the world was first served. But now all
must stand by; he hates father and mother, and life, and all, in comparison
Well then, pause a little, and look within. Does not this
concern you? You pretend to be for Christ−but does not the world sway you?
Do you not take more real delight and contentment in the world than in Him?
Do you not find yourself more at ease when the world is in your mind and you
are surrounded with carnal delights, than when retired to prayer and
meditation in your room, or attending upon God's Word and worship? There is
no surer evidence of an unconverted state than to have the things of the
world uppermost in our aim, love and estimation.
With the sound convert, Christ has the supremacy. How
dear is His name to him! How precious is His favor! The name of Jesus is
engraved on his heart. Honor is but air, and laughter is but madness, and
mammon is fallen like Dagon before the ark, with hands and head broken−when
once Christ is savingly revealed. Here is the pearl of great price to the
true convert; here is his treasure; here is his hope. This is his glory, 'My
beloved is mine, and I am his.' [Song 2:16] O, it is sweeter to him to be
able to say, 'Christ is mine!', than if he could say, 'The kingdom is mine;
the Indies are mine.'
 We turn from our own RIGHTEOUSNESS. Before
conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his own fig−leaves, and to make
himself acceptable with God, by his own duties. He is apt to trust in
himself, and set up his own righteousness, and to reckon his pennies for
gold, and not to submit to the righteousness of God. But conversion changes
his mind; now he counts his own righteousness as filthy rags. He casts it
off, as a man would the verminous tatters of a nasty beggar. Now he is
brought to poverty of spirit, complains of and condemns himself; and all his
inventory is, 'I am poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and
naked!' [Rev 3:17]. He sees a world of iniquity in his holy things,
and calls his once−idolized righteousness but filth and loss; and
would not for a thousand worlds be found in it!
Now he begins to set a high price upon Christ's
righteousness. He sees the need of Christ in every duty, to justify his
person and sanctify his performances; he cannot live without Him; he cannot
pray without Him. Christ must go with him, or else he cannot come into the
presence of God; he leans upon Christ, and so bows himself in the house of
his God. He sets himself down for a lost undone man without Him; his life is
hid in Christ, as the root of a tree spreads in the earth for stability and
nourishment. Before, the gospel of Christ was a stale and tasteless thing;
but now−how sweet is Christ! Augustine could not relish his once−admired
Cicero, because he could not find in his writings the name of Christ. How
emphatically he cries, 'O most sweet, most loving, most kind, most dear,
most precious, most desired, most lovely, most fair!' all in a breath, when
he speaks of and to Christ. In a word, the voice of the convert is, with the
martyr, 'None but Christ!'
7. The OBJECT to which we turn in conversion is−God the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit−whom the true convert takes as his
all−sufficient and eternal blessedness. A man is never truly sanctified
until his heart be truly set upon God above all things, as his portion and
chief good. These are the natural breathings of a believer's heart: 'You are
my portion.' 'My soul shall make her boast in the Lord.' 'My expectation is
from him; he alone is my rock and salvation and my glory; the rock of my
strength, and my refuge, is in God' (Psalm 119:57; Psalm 34:2; Psalm 62).
Would you be certain whether you are converted or not?
Now let your soul and all that is within you attend. Have you taken God for
your happiness? Where does the desire of your heart lie? What is the source
of your greatest satisfaction? Come, then, and with Abraham lift up your
eyes eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and look around
you; what is it that you would have to make you happy? If God should give
you your choice, as He did to Solomon, or should say to you, as Ahasuerus to
Esther, 'What is your petition, and what is your request, and it shall be
granted you?' [Esther 5:6] what would you ask? Go into the gardens of
pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there−would these satisfy
you? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose you may carry away as
much as you desire. Go to the towers, to the trophies of honor. What
do you think of being a man of renown, and having a name like the name of
the great men of the earth? Would any of these, would all of these satisfy
you, and make you to count yourself happy? If so, then certainly you are
carnal and unconverted.
If not, go farther; wade into the divine excellencies,
the store of His mercies, the hiding of His power, the unfathomable depths
of His all−sufficiency. Does this suit you best and please you most? Do you
say, 'It is good to be here. Here will I pitch, here will I live and die'?
Will you let all the world go rather than this? Then it is well between God
and you: happy are you, O man−happy are you that ever you were born. If God
can make you happy, you must be happy; for you have taken the Lord to be
your God. Do you say to Christ as He to us, 'Your Father shall be my Father,
and your God my God'? Here is the turning point. "Whom do I have in heaven
but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You. My flesh and my heart may
fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever." Psalm
An unsound convert never takes up his rest in God; but
converting grace does the work, and so cures the fatal misery of the fall,
by turning the heart from its idols−to the living God. Now the soul says,
'Lord, where shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.' [John 6:68]
Here he centers, here he settles. It is the entrance of heaven to him; he
sees his interest in God. When he discovers this, he says, 'Return unto your
rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you' (Psalm 116:7).
And he is even ready to breathe out Simeon's song, 'Lord, now let you your
servant depart in peace' [Luke 2:29]; and says with Jacob, when his old
heart revived at the welcome tidings, 'It is enough!' (Gen 45:28). When he
sees he has a God in covenant to go to, this is all his salvation, and all
his desire (2 Sam 23:5).
Is this the case with you? Have you experienced this? If
so, then 'blessed are you of the Lord'. God has been at work with you; He
has laid hold of your heart by the power of converting grace, or else you
could never have done this.
More particularly, in conversion−
 We turn to CHRIST, the only Mediator
between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). His work is to bring us to God (1 Pet
3:18). He is the way to the Father (John 14:6), the only plank on
which we may escape, the only door by which we may enter (John 10:9).
Conversion brings the soul to Christ to accept Him as the only means of
life, as the only way, the only name given under heaven. He does not look
for salvation in any other but Him; he throws himself on Christ alone.
'Here', says the convinced sinner, 'I will venture; and
if I perish, I perish; if I die, I will die here. But, Lord, do not let me
perish under the eye of Your mercy. Entreat me not to leave You, or to
return from following after You. Here I will throw myself; if You slay me, I
will not go from Your door.'
Thus the poor soul ventures on Christ and resolvedly
adheres to Him. Before conversion, the man made light of Christ; he minded
his farm, friends, pleasures, more than Christ; now, Christ is to him as his
necessary food, his daily bread, the life of his heart, the staff of his
life. His great desire is, that Christ may be magnified in him. His heart
once said, as they to the spouse, 'What is your beloved more than another?'
(Song 5:9). He found more sweetness in his merry company, wicked games,
earthly delights, than in Christ. He took religion for a fancy, and the talk
of great enjoyments for an idle dream; but now to him to live is Christ. Now
he says, 'But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of
Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the
surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have
lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!'
ALL of Christ is accepted by the sincere convert. He
loves not only the wages−but the work of Christ; not only the
benefits−but the burden of Christ. He is willing not only to
tread out the corn−but to draw under the yoke. He takes up the commands
of Christ, yes, the cross of Christ.
The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all
for the salvation of Christ−but he is not for sanctification. He is for the
privileges−but does not appropriate the person of Christ. He divides the
offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the
foundation. Whoever loves life, let him beware here. It is an undoing
mistake, of which you have been often warned, and yet none is more common.
Jesus is a sweet Name−but men do not love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They
will not have Him as God offers, 'to be a Prince and a Savior'
(Acts 5:31). They divide what God has joined, the King who rules−and
the Priest who saves. They will not accept the salvation of Christ as
He intends it; they divide it here. Every man's vote is for salvation from
suffering−but they do not desire to be saved from sinning.
They would have their lives saved−but still would have their lusts. Indeed,
many divide here again; they would be content to have some of their sins
destroyed−but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the beloved
Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand.
O be infinitely careful here; your soul depends upon it.
The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him for all intents and
purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He is
willing to have Christ upon any terms; he is willing to have the dominion
of Christ as well as deliverance by Christ. He says with Paul,
'Lord, what will you have me to do?' [Acts 9:6] Anything, Lord! He gives
Christ the blank page−to write down His own conditions.
 We turn to the laws, ordinances, and ways of Christ.
The heart which once was set against these, and could not endure
the strictness of these bonds, the severity of these ways−now falls in love
with them, and chooses them as its rule and guide forever.
Four things, I observe, God works in every sound convert,
with reference to the laws and ways of Christ, by which you may come to know
your state, if you will be faithful to your own souls. Therefore, keep your
eyes upon your hearts as you go along.
(i) The judgment is brought to approve of them and to
subscribe to them as most righteous and most reasonable. The mind is
brought to like the ways of God; and the corrupt prejudices that were once
against them as unreasonable and intolerable, are now removed. The
understanding assents to them all as holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12). How is
David taken up with the excellencies of God's laws! How does he expatiate on
their praises, both from their inherent qualities and admirable effects!
(Psalm 19:8−10, etc.).
There is a twofold judgment of the understanding, the
absolute and the comparative. The absolute judgment is when a man
thinks such a course best in general−but not for him, or not under his
present circumstances. Now, a godly man's judgment is for the ways of God,
and that not only the absolute−but comparative judgment. He thinks them not
only the best in general−but best for him! He looks upon the rules of
piety not only as tolerable−but desirable; yes, more desirable than gold,
fine gold; yes, much fine gold.
His judgment is fully determined that it is best to be
holy, that it is best to be strict, that it is in itself the most eligible
course, and that it is for him the wisest and most rational and desirable
choice. Hear the godly man's judgment; 'I know, O Lord, that your judgments
are right; I love your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold; I
esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every
false way' (Psalm 119:127−128). Mark, he approves of all that God
requires−and disapproves of all that He forbids. 'Righteous, O Lord, and
upright are your judgments. Your testimonies that you have commanded are
righteous and very faithful. Your word is true from the beginning, and
everyone of your righteous judgments endures forever' (Psalm 119:138, 160).
See how readily and fully he subscribes; he declares his assent and consent
to it, and all and everything contained therein.
(ii) The desire of the heart is to know the whole mind of
Christ. He would not have one sin undiscovered, nor be ignorant of one
duty required. It is the natural and earnest breathing of a sanctified
heart: 'Lord, if there be any way of wickedness in me−please reveal it. What
I know not−teach me. If I have done iniquity−I will do it no more.' The
unsound convert is willingly ignorant, he does not love to come to the
light. He is willing to keep such and such a sin, and therefore is averse to
know it to be a sin−so will not let in the light at that window. Now, the
gracious heart is willing to know the whole latitude and compass of his
Maker's law. He receives with all acceptance the Word which convinces him of
any duty that he knew not, or minded not before, or which uncovers any sin
that lay hidden before.
(iii) The free and resolved choice of the will is for the
ways of Christ, before all the pleasures of sin and prosperities of the
world. His consent is not extorted by some extremity of anguish, nor is
it only a sudden and hasty resolve−but he is deliberately purposed, and
comes freely to the choice. True, the flesh will rebel−yet the prevailing
part of his will is for Christ's laws and government, so that he takes them
up not as his toil or burden−but as his bliss. While the unsanctified person
goes in Christ's ways as in chains and fetters−the true convert does it
heartily, and counts Christ's laws his liberty. He delights in the beauties
of holiness, and has this inseparable mark− he had rather, if he might
have his choice, live a strict and holy life, than the most prosperous and
flourishing worldly life.
'There went with Saul a band of men whose hearts God had
touched' (1 Sam 10:26). When God touches the hearts of His chosen, they
presently follow Christ, and, though drawn, do freely run after Him, and
willingly devote themselves to the service of the Lord, seeking Him with
their whole desire. Fear has its uses; but this is not the mainspring of
motion with a sanctified heart. Christ does not control His subjects by
force−but is King of a willing people. They are, through His
grace, freely devoted to His service. They serve out of choice, not as
slaves−but as the son or spouse, from a spring of love and a loyal mind. In
a word, the laws of Christ are the convert's love, delight, and continual
(iv) The bent of his course is directed to keep God's
statutes. It is the daily care of his life to walk with God. He seeks
great things, he has noble designs, though he falls too short. He aims at
nothing less than perfection; he desires it, he reaches after it; he would
not rest in any degree of grace, until he were quite rid of sin, and
perfected in holiness (Phil 3:11−14).
Here the hypocrite's rottenness may be discovered. He
desires holiness, as one well said, only as a bridge to heaven, and inquires
earnestly what is the least that will serve his turn; and if he can get but
so much as may bring him to heaven, this is all he cares for. But the sound
convert desires holiness for holiness' sake, and not merely for heaven's
sake. He would not be satisfied with so much holiness as might save him from
hell−but desires the highest degree. Yet desires are not enough. What
is your way and your course? Are the drift and scope of your
life altered? Is holiness your pursuit, and piety your business? If
not, you fall short of sound conversion.
And is this which we have described, the conversion which
is of absolute necessity to salvation? Then be informed−that strait is the
gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life−that there are few that
find it−that there is need of divine power savingly to convert a sinner to
Again, be exhorted, O man, to examine yourself. What does
conscience say? Does it begin to accuse? Does it not pierce you as you go?
Is this your judgment, and this your choice, and this your way, that we have
described? If so, then it is well. But does your heart condemn you, and tell
you of a certain sin you are living in against your conscience? Does it not
tell you there is such and such a secret way of wickedness that you wish to
pursue; such and such a duty that you make no conscience of?
Does not conscience carry you to your closet, and tell
you how seldom prayer and Scripture reading are performed there? Does it not
carry you to your family, and show you the charge of God, and the souls of
your children who are neglected there? Does not conscience lead you to your
shop, your trade, and tell you of some iniquity there? Does it not carry you
to the public−house, or the private club, and blame you for the loose
company you keep there, the precious time which you misspend there,
the talents which you waste there? Does it not carry you into your
secret chamber, and read there your condemnation?
O conscience! do your duty. In the name of the
living God, I command you−discharge your office. Lay hold upon this sinner,
fall upon him, arrest him, apprehend him, undeceive him. What! will you
flatter and soothe him while he lives in his sins? Awake, O conscience! What
do you mean, O sleeper? What! have you no reproof in your mouth? What! shall
this soul die in his careless neglect of God and of eternity, and you
altogether remain silent? What! shall he go on still in his trespasses, and
yet have peace? Oh, rouse yourself, and do your work. Now let the
preacher in your bosom speak. Cry aloud, and spare not; lift up your
voice like a trumpet. Let not the blood of his soul be required at your
It may be you are ready to say, 'What does all this stir
mean?' and are apt to wonder why I follow you with such earnestness, still
ringing the same lesson in your ears−that you should repent and be
converted. But I must say to you, as Ruth to Naomi, 'Entreat me not to leave
you, or to return from following after you.' [Ruth 1:16] Were it a matter of
indifference, might you be saved as you are, I would gladly let you alone;
but would you not have me concerned for you, when I see you ready to perish?
As the Lord lives, before whom I am−I have not the least hope of seeing
your face in heaven, except you be converted. I utterly despair of your
salvation, except you will be prevailed with thoroughly to turn and give up
yourself to God in holiness and newness of life.
Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the
kingdom of God unless he is born again' [John 3:3], and yet do you wonder
why your ministers labor so earnestly for you? Do not think it strange that
I am earnest with you to follow after holiness, and long to see the image of
God upon you. Never did any, nor shall any, enter into heaven by any other
way but this! The conversion described, is not a high attainment of some
advanced Christians−but every soul that is saved undergoes this
What is it that you count necessary? Is your bread
necessary? Is your breath necessary? Then your conversion is much more
necessary. Indeed, this is the one thing necessary. Your possessions
are not necessary; you may sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be
a gainer by the purchase. Your life is not necessary; you may part
with it for Christ, to infinite advantage. Your reputation is not
necessary; you may be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet be happy;
yes, you may be much more happy in reproach than in repute. But your
conversion is necessary; your salvation depends upon it; and is it not
needful in so important a matter to take care? On this one point depends
your making or marring to all eternity.
But I shall more particularly show the necessity of
conversion, in five things−
1. Without conversion, your BEING is in vain.
Is it not a pity, that you should be good for nothing−an
unprofitable burden of the earth−a mere wart in the body of the universe?
Thus you are, while unconverted, for you cannot answer the end of your
being. Is it not for the divine pleasure that you are and were created? Did
not God make you for Himself? Are you a man−and have you reason? Then, think
how you came into being and why you exist. Behold God's workmanship in your
body, and ask yourself for what purpose did God construct this fabric?
Consider the noble faculties of your heaven−born soul. To what end did God
bestow these excellencies? Was it to no other end than that you should
please yourself, and gratify your senses? Did God send men into the world,
only like the swallows, to gather a few sticks and mud, and build their
nests, and raise up their young, and then die away? The very heathen could
see farther than this. Are you so 'fearfully and wonderfully made' [Psalm
139:14], and do you not yet reason with yourself, 'Surely, I was made for
some noble and exalted end!'
O man! set your reason a little in the chair. Is it not a
pity such a goodly fabric should be raised in vain? Truly you are in vain,
except you are for God. It were better you had no being−than not be for Him.
Would you serve your end? You must repent and be converted; without this you
are to no purpose; indeed, to bad purpose.
You are to NO purpose. Unconverted man is like
a choice instrument, which has every string broken or out of tune. The
Spirit of the living God must repair and tune it by the grace of
regeneration, and sweetly move it by the power of actuating grace, or else
your prayers will be but howlings, and all your service will make no music
in the ears of the Most Holy. All your powers and faculties are so corrupt
in your natural state that, except you be purged from dead works, you cannot
serve the living God.
An unsanctified man cannot work the work of God−
 He has no SKILL in it. He is altogether as
unskillful in the work, as in the word of righteousness. There
are great mysteries in the practice, as well as in the principles
of godliness. Now the unregenerate do not know the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven. You may as well expect him to read−who never learned the
alphabet; or look for goodly music on the lute−from one that never set his
hand to an instrument; as that a natural man should do the Lord any pleasing
service. He must first be taught of God (John 6:45), taught to pray (Luke
11:1), taught to profit (Isa 48:17), taught to go (Hos 11:3), or else he
will be utterly at a loss.
 He has no STRENGTH for it. How weak is his heart!
(Ezek 16:30). He is soon tired. The Sabbath, what a weariness is it! (Mal
1:13). He is without strength (Rom 5:6), yes, dead in sin (Eph 2:5).
 He has no MIND to it. He desires not the
knowledge of God's ways (Job 21:14). He does not know them, and he does not
care to know them (Psalm 82:5). He knows not, neither will he understand.
 He has neither due INSTRUMENTS nor MATERIALS for it.
A man may as well hew the marble without tools, or paint without colors or
brushes, or build without materials−as perform any acceptable service
without the graces of the Spirit, which are both the materials and
instruments in the work. Almsgiving is not a service of God but of
vainglory−if it does not spring from love to God. What is the prayer
of the lips without grace in the heart−but the carcass without life? What
are all our confessions−unless they are exercises of godly sorrow and
sincere repentance? What are our petitions−unless animated with holy
desires and faith in the attributes and promises of God? What are our
praises and thanksgivings−unless they spring from the love of
God, and a holy gratitude and sense of God's mercies in the heart? So that a
man may as well expect that trees should speak, or look for motion from the
dead, as look for any service, holy and acceptable to God, from the
unconverted. When the tree is evil, how can the fruit be good?
Also, without conversion you live to BAD purpose.
The unconverted soul is a very cage of unclean birds (Rev 18:2), a
sepulcher full of corruption and rottenness (Matt 23:27), a loathsome
carcass full of crawling worms, and sending forth a most noxious stench in
the nostrils of God (Psalm 14:3). O dreadful case! Do you not yet see a
change to be needful? Would it not have grieved one to see the golden
consecrated vessels of God's temple turned into quaffing bowls of
drunkenness, and polluted with the idol's service? (Dan 5:2−3). Was it such
an abomination to the Jews when Antiochus set up the picture of a swine at
the entrance of the temple? How much more abominable, then, would it have
been to have had the very temple itself turned into a stable or a pig sty;
and to have had the holy of holies served like the house of Baal! This is
just the case of the unregenerate. All your members are turned into
instruments of unrighteousness, servants of Satan, and your inmost heart
into a receptacle of uncleanness. You may see what kind of inhabitants are
within−by what come out; for, 'out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies' (Matt
15:19). This black troop shows what a hell there is within!
O abuse insufferable! to see a heaven−born soul abased to
such vileness; to see the glory of God's creation, the chief of the works of
God, the Lord of this lower world, eating husks with the prodigal! Was it
such a lamentation to see those nobles−sit desolate in the streets; and the
precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, esteemed as earthen
pitchers; and those who were clothed in scarlet embrace dunghills? (Lam
4:2,5). And is it not much more fearful to see the only being that has
immortality in this lower world and carries the stamp of God, become as a
vessel wherein is no pleasure, and be put to the most sordid use? O
intolerable indignity! Better you were dashed in a thousand pieces, than
continue to be abased to so vile a service!
2. Not only man−but the whole visible CREATION is in vain
without conversion. God has made all the visible creatures in
heaven and earth for the service of man, and man only is the spokesman for
all the rest. Man is, in the world, like the tongue to the body, which
speaks for all the members. The other creatures cannot praise their Maker,
except by dumb signs and hints to man that he should speak for them. Man is,
as it were, the high priest of God's creation, to offer the sacrifice of
praise for all his fellow−creatures. The Lord God expects a tribute of
praise from all His works. Now, all the rest do bring in their tribute to
man, and pay it by his hand. So then, if a man is false, and faithless, and
selfish−God is robbed of all, and has no active glory from His works.
O dreadful thought! that God should build such a world as
this, and lay out such infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness thereupon,
and all in vain! And that man should be guilty, at last, of robbing and
spoiling Him of the glory of all! O think of this. While you are
unconverted, all the offices of the creatures are in vain to you. Your food
nourishes you in vain. The sun holds forth its light to you in vain. Your
clothes warm you in vain. Your horse carries you in vain. In a word, the
unwearied labor and continued travail of the whole creation−so far as you
are concerned−are in vain. The service of all the creatures which drudge for
you, and yield forth their strength unto you, with which you should serve
their Maker−is all but lost labor. Hence, 'the whole creation groans' (Rom
8:22) under the abuse of unsanctified men who pervert all things to the
service of their lusts, quite contrary to the very end of their being.
3. Without conversion, your RELIGION is vain.
All your religious performances will be but lost; for they can neither
please God nor save your soul, which are the very ends of religion (Rom 8:8;
1 Cor 13:2−3). Be your services ever so costly−yet God has no pleasure in
them (Isa 1:14; Mal 1:10). Is not that man's case dreadful, whose sacrifices
are as murders, and whose prayers are a breath of abomination? (Isa 66:3;
Prov 28:9). Many under conviction think they will set upon mending, and that
a few prayers and alms will set all right again; but alas, sirs, while your
hearts remain unsanctified your duties will not be accepted. How punctilious
was Jehu! and yet all was rejected because his heart was not upright (2
Kings 10 with Hos 1:4). How blameless was Paul! and yet, being unconverted,
all was but loss (Phil 3:6−7). Men think they do much in attending to God's
service, and are ready to set Him down as their debtor; whereas their
persons being unsanctified, their duties cannot be accepted.
O soul! do not think when your sins pursue you, that a
little praying and reforming your ways will pacify God. You must begin with
your heart. If that is not renewed, you can no more please God than one who,
having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing
to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy
embraces to reconcile you.
It is a great misery to labor in the fire. The poets
could not invent a worse hell for Sisyphus than to be ever toiling to get
the stone up the hill, and then that it should presently roll down again and
renew his labor. God threatens it as the greatest temporal judgments, that
they should build and not inhabit, plant and not gather, and that their
labors should be eaten up by strangers (Deut 28:30,38−41). Is it so great a
misery to lose our common labors, to sow in vain, and to build in vain? How
much more to lose our pains in religion−to pray, and hear, and fast in vain!
This is an undoing and eternal loss.
Be not deceived; if you go on in your sinful state,
though you should spread forth your hands−God will hide His eyes; though you
make many prayers−He will not hear (Isa 1:15). If a man without skill set
about our work, and spoil it in the doing, though he take much pains, we
give him but small thanks. God will be worshiped after the due order. If a
servant does our work−but quite contrary to our order, he shall have stripes
rather than praise. God's work must be done according to God's mind, or He
will not be pleased; and this cannot be, except it be done with a holy
4. Without true conversion your HOPES are in vain.
'The hope of the hypocrite shall perish' (Job 8:12−13). 'The Lord has
rejected your confidences' (Jer 2:37).
 The hope of comfort here is vain. It is
not only necessary for the safety−but the comfort of your
condition, that you be converted. Without this, you shall not know peace (Isa
59:8). Without the fear of God you cannot have the comfort of the Holy
Spirit (Acts 9:31). God speaks peace only to His people and to His saints
(Psalm 85:8). If you have a false peace continuing in your sins, it is not
of God's speaking, and therefore you may guess the author. Sin is a real
sickness (Isa 1:5), yes, the worst of sickness; it is a leprosy in the head
(Lev 13:44); the plague in the heart (1 Kings 8:38); it is brokenness in the
bones (Psalm 51:8); it pierces, it wounds, it racks, it torments (1 Tim
6:10). A man may as well expect ease when his diseases are in their full
strength, or his bones out of joint, as true comfort while in his sins.
O wretched man, that can have no ease in this case but
what comes from the deadliness of the disease! You shall have the poor sick
man saying in his wildness, he is well; when you see death in his
face, he would be up and about his business, when the very next step is
likely to be to his grave. The unsanctified often see nothing amiss; they
think themselves whole, and cry not for the physician; but this only shows
the danger of their case.
Sin naturally breeds diseases and disturbances in the
soul. What a continual tempest is there in a discontented mind! What a
corroding evil is inordinate care! What is passion−but a very fever in the
mind? What is lust−but a fire in the bones? What is pride−but a deadly
dropsy? What is covetousness−but an insatiable and insufferable thirst? What
is malice and envy−but venom in the very heart? Spiritual sloth is but a
scurvy in the mind, and carnal security a mortal lethargy. How can that soul
have true comfort which is under so many diseases? But converting grace
cures, and so eases the mind, and prepares the soul for a settled, standing,
immortal peace. 'Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing shall
offend them' (Psalm 119:165). They are the ways of wisdom, which afford
pleasure and peace (Prov 3:17). David had infinitely more pleasure in the
Word, than in all the delights of his court (Psalm 119:103,127). The
conscience cannot be truly pacified until soundly purified (Heb 10:22).
Cursed is that peace which is maintained in a way of sin (Deut 29:19−20).
Two sorts of peace are more to be dreaded than all the troubles in the
world−peace with sin−and peace in sin.
 The hope of salvation hereafter is in vain.
This hope is most injurious to God, most pernicious to yourself.
There is death, despair, and blasphemy in this hope.
There is DEATH in it. Your confidence shall be
rooted out of your tabernacles, God will destroy it−root and branch; it will
bring you to the king of terrors (Job 18:14). Though you may lean upon this
house, it will not stand−but will prove like a ruinous building which, when
a man trusts to it, falls down about him (Job 8:15).
There is DESPAIR in it. 'Where is the hope of the
hypocrite when God takes away his soul?' (Job 27:8). Then there is an end
forever of his hope. Indeed, the hope of the righteous has an end−but it is
not a destructive−but a perfective end. His hope ends in fruition, others in
frustration. The godly may say at death, 'It is finished'; but the wicked,
'It is perished', and may earnestly bemoan himself, as Job did, though
mistakenly, in his case, 'Where now is my hope? He has destroyed me; I am
gone, and my hope is removed like a tree' (Job 19:10). 'The righteous has
hope in his death' (Prov 14:32). When the body is dying, his hopes are
living; when his body is languishing, his hopes are flourishing; his hope is
a living hope−but others a dying, yes, a damning, soul−undoing hope.
'When a wicked man dies, his expectation shall perish;
and the hope of unjust men perishes' (Prov 11:7). It shall be cut off and
prove like a spider's web (Job 8:14) which he spins out of his own bowels;
but then comes death and destroys all, and so there is an eternal end of his
confidence in which he trusted. 'The eyes of the wicked shall fail and their
hope shall be as the giving up of the spirit' (Job 11:20). Wicked men are
fixed in their carnal hope, and will not be beaten out of it; they hold it
fast, they will not let it go−but death will knock off their fingers. Though
we cannot undeceive them, death and judgment will. When death strikes his
dart through your liver, it will ruin your soul and your hopes together. The
unsanctified have hope only in this life, and therefore are of all men most
miserable. When death comes, it lets them out into the amazing gulf of
There is BLASPHEMY in it. To hope we shall be
saved, though continuing unconverted, is to hope that we shall prove God to
be a liar. He has told you that, merciful and compassionate as He is, He
will never save you notwithstanding, if you go on in a course of ignorance
or unrighteousness. In a word, He has told you that whatever you are or do,
nothing shall avail you to salvation unless you become new creatures. Now,
to say God is merciful and to hope that He will save us without conversion,
is in effect to say, 'We hope that God will not do as He says.' We must not
set God's attributes at variance. God has resolved to glorify His mercy−but
not to the prejudice of His truth, as the presumptuous sinner will find to
his everlasting sorrow.
Objection: But we hope in Jesus Christ, we put our
whole trust in God, and therefore do not doubt that we shall be saved.
Answer: This is not hope in Christ−but hope against
Christ. To hope to see the kingdom of God without being born again, to hope
to find eternal life in the broad way−is to hope Christ will prove a
false prophet. David's plea is, 'I hope in your word' (Psalm 119:81). But
this hope is against God's Word. Show me a word of Christ for your hope that
He will save you in your ignorance or profane neglect of His service, and I
will never try to shake your confidence.
God rejects this hope with abhorrence. Those condemned by
the prophet went on in their sins; yet, says the prophet, 'will they lean
upon the Lord' (Mic 3:11). God will not endure to be made a prop to men
in their sins. The Lord rejected those presumptuous sinners who went on
still in their trespasses and yet would stay themselves on Israel's God−as a
man would shake off the briers that cleave to his garment.
If your hope is worth anything, it will purify you from
your sins (1 John 3:3)−but cursed is that hope which cherishes men in their
Objection: Would you have us despair?
Answer: You must despair of ever coming to heaven as you
are, that is, while unconverted. You must despair of ever seeing the face of
God without holiness. But you must by no means despair of finding mercy upon
your thorough repentance and conversion. Neither may you despair of
attaining to repentance and conversion in the use of God's means.
5. Without conversion all that Christ has done and
suffered will be, so far as it concerns you, in vain. That is, it
will in no way avail you to salvation. Many urge this as a sufficient ground
for their hope, that Christ died for sinners; but I must tell you, Christ
never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners, so continuing. A
great divine was accustomed in his private dealings with souls to ask two
questions. What has Christ done for you? What has Christ wrought
in you? Without the application of the Spirit in regeneration, we have
no saving interest in the benefits of redemption. I tell you from the Lord,
that Christ Himself cannot save you if you go on in this state.
 To save men in their sins would be against His trust.
The Mediator is the servant of the Father, shows His commission from Him,
acts in His name, and pleads His command for His justification (John
10:18,36; John 6:38,40). God has committed all things to Him, entrusted His
own glory and the salvation of His elect with Him (Matt 11:27; John 17:2).
Accordingly, Christ gives His Father an account of both parts of His trust
before He leaves the world (John 17). Now Christ would quite thwart His
Father's glory, tarnish His greatest trust, if He would save men in their
sins: for this would overturn all His counsels, and offer violence to all
It would overturn all God's counsels, of which this is the order,
that men should be brought to salvation through sanctification (2 Thess 2:13).
He has chosen them that they should be holy (Eph 1:4). They are
elected to pardon and life through sanctification (1 Pet 1:2). If you can
repeal the law of God's immutable counsel, or corrupt Him whom the Father
has sealed to go directly against His commission, then, and not otherwise,
you may get to heaven in this condition. To hope that Christ will save you
while unconverted, is to hope that Christ will prove false to His trust. He
never did, nor ever will save one soul but whom the Father has given Him in
election, and drawn to Him in effectual calling (John 6:37,44). Be assured,
Christ will save none in a way contrary to His Father's will.
 To save men in their sins, would offer violence to
all the ATTRIBUTES of God.
To His JUSTICE. The righteousness of God's judgment lies
in rendering to all according to their works.
Now, should men sow to the flesh, and yet of the Spirit reap
everlasting life−where would the glory of divine justice be?
To His HOLINESS. If
God should not only save sinners−but save them in their sins, His most pure
and strict holiness would be exceedingly defaced. The unsanctified, in the
eyes of God's holiness−are worse than a swine or viper! It would be offering
the extreme violence to the infinite purity of the divine nature to have
such dwell with Him. They cannot stand in His judgment: they cannot abide
His presence. If holy David would not endure such in his house, no, nor in
his sight (Psalm 101:3,7), can we think God will? Should He take men as they
are, from the mire of their filthiness−to the glory of heaven, the world
would think that God was at no such great distance from sin, nor had any
such dislike to it as we are told He has. They would be ready to conclude
that God was altogether such an one as themselves, as some of old wickedly
did, from the forbearance of God (Psalm 50:21).
To His VERACITY. God
has declared from heaven that if any says he shall have peace, though he
should go on in the imagination of his heart−that His wrath shall smoke
against that man (Deut 29:19−20). He has declared that they alone, who
confess and forsake their sins, shall find mercy (Prov 28:13). He has
declared that they that shall enter into His holy hill must be of clean
hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3−4). Where would God's truth be, if,
notwithstanding all this−He should bring unconverted men to heaven? O
desperate sinner, who dares to hope that Christ will make His Father a liar
and nullify His word−to save the unconverted!
To His WISDOM. This were to throw away the choicest of mercies
on those who would not value them, nor were any way suited to them.
They would not VALUE them. The unsanctified sinner
puts but little value upon God's great salvation. He thinks no more of
Christ, than those who are whole, do of the physician. He prizes not His
balm, values not His cure−but tramples on His blood. Now, would it stand
with wisdom to force pardon and life upon those who would return no thanks
for them? Will the all−wise God, when He has forbidden us to do it, throw
His holy things to dogs and His pearls to swine−who would, as it were−but
turn again and rend Him? This would make mercy to be despised indeed. Wisdom
requires that life be given in a way suitable to God's honor, and that God
provide for the securing of His own glory, as well as man's felicity. It
would be dishonorable to God to bestow His choicest riches, on those who
have more pleasure in their sins−than in the heavenly delights which He
offers. God would lose the praise and glory of His grace, if He would cast
it away upon those who were not only unworthy but unwilling.
Also, the mercies of God are no way SUITED to the
unconverted. God's wisdom is seen in suiting things to each other, the
means to the end, the object to the faculty, the quality of the gift to the
capacity of the receiver. Now, if Christ should bring the unregenerate
sinner to heaven, he could take no more felicity there than a beast would,
if you should bring it into a beautiful room to the society of learned men;
whereas the poor thing had much rather be grazing with his fellows in the
field. Alas, what could an unholy man do in heaven? He could not be content
there because nothing suits him. The place does not suit him; he
would be quite out of his element, a fish out of water. The company
does not suit him; what communion has darkness with light? corruption with
perfection? vileness and sin with glory and immortality? The employment
does not suit him; the anthems of heaven do not fit his mouth, do not
suit his ear. Can you charm a donkey with music; or will you bring him to
your organ and expect that he should make melody, or keep time with the
tuneful choir? Had he skill, he would have no will, and so could find no
pleasure in it. Spread your table with delicacies before a languishing
patient, and it will be but an offence. Alas, if the ungodly man thinks a
sermon long and say of a Sabbath−day, 'What a weariness is it!' how
miserable would he think it to be engaged in an everlasting Sabbath!
To His IMMUTABILITY, or else to His OMNISCIENCE or
OMNIPOTENCE. It is enacted in heaven, and enrolled in the decree
of the court above, that none but the pure in heart shall see God (Matt
5:8). Now, if Christ brings any to heaven unconverted, either He must get
them in without His Father's knowledge−and then where is His omniscience? or
against His will−and then where were His omnipotence? or He must change His
will−and then where were His immutability?
Sinner, will you not give up your vain hope of being
saved in this condition? Bildad says, 'Shall the earth be forsaken for you;
or the rocks be moved out of their place?' (Job 18:4). May I not much more
reason with you? Shall the laws of heaven be reversed for you? Shall the
everlasting foundations be overturned for you? Shall Christ put out the eye
of His Father's omniscience, or shorten the arm of His eternal power−for
you? Shall divine justice be violated for you; or the brightness of His
holiness be blemished for you? O the impossibility, absurdity, blasphemy, of
such a confidence! To think Christ will ever save you in this condition, is
to make the Savior become a sinner, and do more wrong to the infinite
Majesty than all the wicked on earth or devils in hell ever did, or ever
could do; and yet will you not give up such a blasphemous hope?
 To save men in their sins would be against the WORD
of Christ. We need not say, 'Who shall ascend into heaven, to
bring down Christ from above? Or, who shall descend into the deep, to bring
up Christ from beneath? The word is near us' (Rom 10:6−8). Are you agreed
that Christ shall end the controversy? Hear then His own words: 'Except you
be converted, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven.' 'You must
be born again.' 'If I wash you not, you have no part in me.' 'Unless you
repent, you shall perish' (Matt 18:3; John 3:7; John 13:8; Luke 13:3). One
word, one would think, were enough from Christ; but how often and earnestly
does He reiterate it: 'Truly, truly, unless a man be born again, he shall
not see the kingdom of God' (John 3:3). Yes, He not only asserts but proves
the necessity of the new birth from the carnality and sinfulness of man from
his first birth, by reason of which man is no more fit for heaven than the
beast is for the chamber of the king. And will you yet rest in your own
presumptuous confidence, directly against Christ's words? He must go quite
against the law of His kingdom and rule of His judgment, to save you in this
 To save men in their sins would be against the OATH
of Christ. He has lifted up His hand to heaven, He has sworn that
those who remain in unbelief and know not His ways (that is, are ignorant of
them, or disobedient to them) shall not enter into His rest (Heb 3:18). And
will you not yet believe, O sinner, that He is earnest? The covenant of
grace is confirmed by an oath and sealed by blood; but all must be made
void, and another way to heaven found out−if you be saved, living and dying
unsanctified. God is come to His last terms with man, and has condescended
as far as in honor He could. Men cannot be saved while unconverted, except
they could get another covenant made, and the whole frame of the Gospel,
which was established forever with such dreadful solemnities, quite altered.
And must not they be demented who hope that they shall?
 To save men in their sins would be against His HONOR.
God will so show His love to the sinner−and at the same time show His hatred
to sin. Therefore, he who names the name of Jesus must depart from iniquity
and deny all ungodliness; and he who has hope of life by Christ, must purify
himself as He is pure, otherwise Christ would be thought a favorer of sin (2
Tim 2:19; Titus 2:12; 1 John 3:3). The Lord Jesus would have all the world
know, that though He pardons sin, He will not protect it. If holy David
says, 'Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity' (Psalm 6:8), and shuts
the doors against them (Psalm 101:7), shall we not much more expect it from
Christ's holiness? Would it be for His honor, to have the dogs at His
table, or to lodge the swine with His children, or to have Abraham's
bosom to be a nest of vipers?
 To save men in their sins would be against His
offices. God has exalted Him to be a Prince and a
Savior (Acts 5:31). He would act against both, should He save men in
their sins. It is the office of a king to be a terror to evildoers, and a
praise to those who do well. 'He is a minister of God, a revenger to execute
wrath on him who does evil' (Rom 13:4). Now, should Christ favor the
ungodly, so continuing, and take those to reign with Him who would not have
Him reign over them, this would be quite against His office. He therefore
reigns that He may put His enemies under His feet. Now, should He lay them
in His bosom, He would frustrate the end of His regal power. It belongs to
Christ, as a King, to subdue the hearts and slay the lusts of His chosen
(Psalm 45:5; Psalm 110:3). What king would take rebels in open hostility,
into his court? What were this but to betray life, kingdom, government, and
all together? If Christ is a King, He must have honor, homage, subjection.
Now, to save men while in their natural enmity−would be to obscure His
dignity, lose His authority, bring contempt on His government, and sell His
dear−bought rights for naught.
Again, as Christ would not be a Prince, so neither a
Savior, if He would do this; for His salvation is spiritual. He is called
Jesus because He saves His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). So
that, should He save them in their sins, He would be neither Lord nor
Jesus. To save men from the punishment of sin−and not from the
power of sin−would be to do His work by halves, and be an imperfect
Savior. His office as the Deliverer is to turn ungodliness from Jacob (Rom
11:26). He is sent to bless men, in turning them from their iniquities (Acts
3:26), to make an end of sin (Dan 9:24). So that He would destroy His own
designs, and nullify His offices−to save men in their unconverted state.
Arise then! What do you mean, O sleeper? Awake, O secure
sinner, lest you be consumed in your iniquities! Say, as the lepers, 'If we
sit here, we shall die!' (2 Kings 7:3−4). Truly, it is not more certain that
you are now out of hell, than that you shall speedily be in it−unless you
repent and be converted. There is but this one door for you to escape by.
Arise then, O sluggard, and shake off your excuses; how long will you
slumber and fold your hands to sleep? Will you lie down in the midst of the
sea, or sleep on the top of a mast? (Prov 23:34). There is no remedy−but you
must either turn or burn! There is an unchangeable necessity of the change
of your condition, unless you have resolved to abide the worst of it, and
fight it out with the Almighty. If you love your life, O man, arise and come
away. I think I see the Lord Jesus laying the merciful hands of a holy
violence upon you; I think He acts like the angels to Lot: "Hurry," they
said to Lot. "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out of
here right now, or you will be caught in the destruction of the city." When
Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife
and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord
was merciful. "Run for your lives!" the angels warned. "Do not stop anywhere
in the valley. And don't look back! Escape to the mountains, or you will
die." Genesis 19:15−17 (Gen 19:15−17).
O how dreadful will your destruction be, if you should
yet harden yourself in your sinful state! But none of you can say that you
have not had fair warning. Yet I cannot leave you so. It is not enough for
me to have delivered my own soul. What! shall I go away without my errand?
Will none of you arise and follow me? Have I been all this while speaking to
the wind? Have I been charming the deaf adder, or allaying the restless
ocean with argument? Do I speak to the trees and rocks−or to men? to the
tombs and monuments of the dead−or to the living? If you are men and not
senseless stocks, stop and consider where you are going! If you have the
reason and understanding of men, do not dare to run into the flames, and
fall into hell with your eyes open! Stop and think, and set about the work
of repentance. What, men? and yet run into the pit, when the very beasts
will not be forced in? What, endowed with reason? and yet trifle with death
and hell, and the vengeance of the Almighty? Are men only distinguished from
brutes in that these, having no foresight, have no care to provide for the
things to come, and will you, who are warned, not hasten your escape from
eternal torments? O show yourselves men, and let reason prevail with you!
Is it a reasonable thing for you to contend against the
Lord your Maker, or to harden yourselves against His word, as though the
Strength of Israel would lie? (Isa 45:9; Job 9:4; 1 Sam 15:29). Is it
reasonable that an understanding creature should lose; yes, live quite
against the very end of his being? Is it reasonable that the only being in
this world that God has made capable of knowing His will and bringing Him
glory, should yet live in ignorance of his Maker, and be unserviceable to
His use, yes, should be engaged against Him, and spit his venom in
the face of his Creator? Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, and let the
creatures without sense judge if this be reason, that man whom God has
nourished and brought up, should rebel against Him? Judge in your own
selves. Is it a reasonable undertaking for briers and thorns to set
themselves in battle against the devouring fire? or for the potsherd of the
earth to strive with its Maker? You will say, 'This is not reason'; or
surely the eye of reason is quite put out. And, if this is not reason, then
there is no reason that you should continue as you are−but there is every
reason in the world that you should immediately turn and repent.
What shall I say? I could spend myself in this argument.
O that you would only hearken to me; that you would now set upon a new
course! Will you not be made clean? When shall it once be? Reader, will you
sit down and consider the forementioned argument, and debate it whether it
be not best to turn? Come, and let us reason together. Is it good for you to
be here? Is it good for you to try whether God will be as good as His word,
and to harden yourself in a conceit that all is well with you, while you
Alas, for such sinners! must they perish at last by
hundreds? What course shall I use with them that I have not tried? 'What
shall I do for the daughter of my people?' (Jer 9:7).
'O Lord God, help. Alas, shall I leave them thus? If they
will not hear me−yet may You hear me. O that they might live in Your sight!
Lord, save them−or they perish. My heart would melt to see their houses on
fire when they were fast asleep in their beds; and shall not my soul be
moved within me to see them falling into endless perdition? Lord, have
compassion, and save them out of the burning. Put forth Your divine
power−and the work will be done!'
While we keep aloof in general statements, there is
little fruit to be expected; it is the close hand−fight that does execution.
David is not awakened by the prophet's hovering at a distance in parabolic
insinuations. Nathan is forced to close with him, and tell him plainly, 'You
are the man!' [2 Sam 12:7] Few will, in words, deny the necessity of the new
birth; but they have a self−deluding confidence that the work is not to be
done now. And because they know themselves to be free from that gross
hypocrisy which takes up religion merely for a color to deceive others, and
for covering wicked designs, they are confident of their sincerity, and do
not suspect that more close hypocrisy, in which the greatest danger lies and
by which a man deceives his own soul. But man's deceitful heart is such a
matchless cheat−and self−delusion so reigning and so fatal a disease−that I
do not know which is the greater−the difficulty, or the necessity of the
undeceiving work that I am now upon. Alas for the unconverted, they must be
undeceived−or they will be undone! But how shall this be effected?
'Help, O all−searching Light, and let Your discerning eye
disclose the rotten foundation of the self−deceiver. Lead me, O Lord God, as
You did the prophet, into the chambers of imagery, and dig through the wall
of sinners' hearts, and reveal the hidden abominations that are lurking out
of sight in the dark. O send Your angel before me to open the sundry wards
of their hearts, as You did before Peter, and make even the iron gates fly
open of their own accord. And as Jonathan no sooner tasted the honey but his
eyes were enlightened, so grant, O Lord, that when the poor deceived souls
with whom I have to do shall cast their eyes upon these lines, their minds
may be illuminated, and their consciences convinced and awakened, that they
may see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and You
may heal them.'
This must be premised before we proceed, that it is most
certain that men may have a confident persuasion that their hearts and
states are good−while yet they are unsound. Hear the Truth Himself who
shows, in Laodicea's case, that men may be wretched, and miserable, and
poor, and blind, and naked−and yet not know it. Yes, they may be confident
they are rich, and increased in grace (Rev 3:17). 'There is a generation
that are pure in their own eyes−and yet are not washed from their
filthiness' (Prov 30:12). Who better persuaded of his state than Paul, while
he yet remained unconverted? (Rom 7:9). So that they are miserably deceived
who take a strong confidence for a sufficient evidence. Those
who have no better proof than barely a strong persuasion that they are
converted−are certainly as yet strangers to conversion.
But to come closer. As it was said to the adherents of
Antichrist, so here−some of the unconverted carry their marks in their
forehead more openly, and some in their hands more covertly. The
apostle reckons up some upon whom he writes the sentence of death, as in
these dreadful catalogues which I beseech you to attend to with all
diligence: 'For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy
person−−such a man is an idolater−−has any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of
such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.' (Eph 5:5−6).
'But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars−−their
place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death'
(Rev 21:8). 'Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of
God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor
adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the
greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom
of God' (1 Cor 6:9−10). Woe to those who have their name written in this
catalogue. Such may know, as certainly as if God had told them from heaven,
that they are unsanctified, and under an impossibility of being saved in
I. OPEN sinners. There are then these several
classes that, past all dispute, are unconverted; they carry their marks in
 The immoral. These are ever reckoned among the
goats, and have their names, whoever else is left out, in all the
 The covetous. These are ever branded for
idolaters, and the doors of the kingdom are shut against them by name.
 Drunkards. Not only such as drink away their
reason−but withal, yes, above all, such as are too strong for strong drink.
The Lord fills His mouth with woes against these, and declares them to have
no inheritance in the kingdom of God! (Isa 5:11−12,22; Gal 5:21).
 Liars. The God who cannot lie has told them
that there is no place for them in His kingdom, no entrance into His holy
hill; but their portion is with the father of lies, whose children they are,
in the lake of burnings! (Rev 21:8,27; John 8:44; Prov 6:17).
 Swearers. The end of these, without deep and
speedy repentance, is swift destruction, and most certain and unavoidable
condemnation (James 5:12; Zech 5:1−3).
 Railers and backbiters, who love to take up a
reproach against their neighbor, and fling all the dirt they can in his
face, or else wound him secretly behind his back (Psalm 15:1,3; 1 Cor 5:11).
 Thieves, extortioners, oppressors, who grind
the poor, or defraud their brethren when they have opportunity. These must
know that God is the avenger of all such (1 Thess 4:6). Hear O you false and
purloining and wasteful servants; hear, O you deceitful tradesmen, hear your
sentence! God will certainly shut His door against you, and turn your
treasures of unrighteousness into the treasures of wrath, and make your
ill−gotten silver and gold to torment you, like burning metal in your flesh!
 All who do ordinarily live in the profane neglect of
God's worship, that do not hear His Word, who do not call on His name, who
restrain prayer before God, who do not mind their own nor their families'
souls−but live without God in the world! (John 8:47; Job 15:4; Psalm 14:4;
Psalm 79:6; Eph 2:12 and Eph 4:18).
 Frequenters and lovers of vain company. God has
declared that He will be the destroyer of all such, and that they shall
never enter into the hill of His rest! (Prov 9:6 and Prov 13:20).
 Scoffers at religion, who make a scorn of holy
living, and mock at the messengers and diligent servants of the Lord, and at
their holy profession, and make themselves merry with the weakness and
failings of professing Christians. 'Hear, you despisers,' hear your dreadful
doom! (Prov 19:29; 2 Chron 36:16).
Sinner, consider diligently whether you are not to be
found in one of these ranks, for if this is the case, you are in the gall of
bitterness and bond of iniquity; for all these do carry their marks in their
foreheads, and are undoubtedly the sons of death. And if so, the Lord pity
our poor congregations. O how small a number will remain when these ten
sorts are left out.
Sirs, what efforts you make to keep up your confidence of
your good state when God from heaven declares against you, and pronounces
you in a state of damnation! I would reason with you, as God with them, 'How
can you say, I am not polluted? See your way in the valley; know what you
have done' (Jer 2:23). Man, is not your conscience aware of your tricks of
deceit, of your secret sins, of your way of lying? Yes, are not your
friends, your family, your neighbors, witnesses to your profane neglect of
God's worship, to your covetous practices, to your envious and malicious
behavior? May they not point at you as you go, 'There goes a gaming
prodigal; there goes a drunken Nabal, a companion of evildoers; there goes a
railer, or a scoffer, or a loose−liver!' Beloved, God has written it as with
a sunbeam in the Book by which you must be judged−that these are not the
marks of His children; and that none such, except renewed by converting
grace, shall ever escape the damnation of hell.
O that you would now be persuaded to repent and turn from
all your transgressions, or else iniquity will be your ruin (Ezek 18:30).
Alas, for poor hardened sinners. Must I leave you at last where you are?
Must I leave the drinker still at his bar? Must I leave the malicious still
in his venom? However, you must know that you have been warned, and that I
am clear of your blood; and whether men will hear, or whether they will
forbear, I will leave these Scriptures with them, which will prove either as
thunderbolts to awaken them, or as searing−irons to harden them. 'Surely God
will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in
their sins.' 'He who, being often reproved, hardens his neck, shall suddenly
be destroyed, and that without remedy.' 'Because I have called, and you
refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, I will laugh at
your calamity−when your destruction comes as a whirlwind' (Psalm 68:21; Prov
29:1; Prov 1:24−27).
II. SECRET sinners. And now I imagine many
will begin to bless themselves, and think all is well, because they cannot
be reproached with these grosser evils. But I must tell you that there is
another sort of unsanctified people, who carry their mark not in their
foreheads−but more secretly and covertly. These frequently deceive
themselves and others, and pass for good Christians, when they are all the
while unsound at heart. Many pass undiscovered until death and judgment
bring all to light. These self−deceivers seem to come even to heaven's gate
with confidence of their admission, and yet are turned away at last (Matt
7:22). I beseech you deeply to lay to heart and firmly retain this awakening
consideration−that multitudes perish by the hand of some secret sin, that is
not only hidden from others−but from lack of observing their own hearts−is
hidden even from themselves. A man may be free from open pollutions, and yet
die at last by the hand of some unobserved iniquity; and there are these
twelve hidden sins, through which souls go down by numbers into the
chambers of eternal death.
These you must search carefully for, and take them as
black marks wherever they are found, revealing a graceless and unconverted
state; and as you love your lives, read carefully with a holy jealousy of
yourselves, lest you should be the people concerned.
 Gross wilful ignorance (Hos 4:6). O how
many poor souls does this sin kill in the dark, while they think truly they
have good hearts, and are all set for heaven. This is the murderer which
dispatches thousands in a silent manner, when they suspect nothing, and do
not see the hand which destroys them. You shall find, whatever excuses you
make for ignorance, that it is a soul−ruining evil (Isa 27:11; 2 Thess 1:8;
2 Cor 4:3). Ah, would it not have grieved a man's heart to see that dreadful
spectacle when the poor Christians were shut up in a barn, and a butcher
came, with his hands warmed in human blood, and led them one by one,
blindfold, to a block where he slew them one after another, by scores, in
cold blood? But how much more should your hearts bleed to think of the
hundreds that ignorance destroys in secret and leads blindfold to the block!
Beware that this is not your case. Make no plea for ignorance; if you spare
that sin, know that it will not spare you! Would a man keep a murderer in
 Secret reserves in closing with Christ. To
forsake all for Christ, to hate father and mother, yes, a man's own life for
Him, 'This is a hard saying' (Luke 14:26). Some will do much−but they will
not have that religion which will save them. They never come to be entirely
devoted to Christ, nor to be fully resigned to Him. They must have the sweet
sin; they mean to do themselves no harm; they have secret exceptions for
life, liberty, or estate. Many take Christ thus, and never consider His
self−denying terms, nor count the cost; and this error in the foundation
mars all, and ruins them forever (Luke 14:28−33).
 Formality in religion. Many rest in the
externals of religion and in the outward performance of holy duties. And
very often this most effectually deceives men, and more certainly undoes
them than open profaneness; as it was in the Pharisee's case. They hear,
they fast, they pray, they give alms−and therefore will not believe their
case is bad. Whereas, resting in the work done, and coming short of the
heart−work and the inward power and vitality of religion, they fall at last
into the burning, from the flattering hope and confident persuasion of their
being all set on the way to heaven. Oh dreadful case, when a man's religion
shall serve only to harden him, and effectually to delude and deceive his
 The prevalence of wrong motives in holy duties.
This was the bane of the Pharisees. Oh how many a poor soul is undone
by this, and drops into hell before he discerns his mistake! He performs his
'good duties' and so thinks all is well−but does not perceive that he is
actuated by carnal motives all the while. It is too true that even with the
really sanctified, many carnal ends will often creep in; but they are the
matter of their hatred and humiliation, and never come to be habitually
prevalent with them, and bear the greatest sway. But when the main thing
that ordinarily moves a man to religious duties is some carnal end−as to
satisfy his conscience, to get the reputation of being religious, to be seen
by men, to show off his gifts and talents, to avoid the reproach of being a
profane and irreligious person, or the like−this reveals an unsound heart.
Oh Christians, if you would avoid self−deceit, see that you mind not only
your actions but your motives.
 Trusting in their own righteousness. This
is a soul−ruining mischief. When men trust in their own righteousness they
do indeed reject Christ's. Beloved, you had need be watchful on every hand,
for not only your sins−but your duties may undo you. It may be you never
thought of this; but so it is, that a man may as certainly perish by his
seeming righteousness and supposed graces−as by gross sins; and that is,
when a man trusts to these as his righteousness before God, for satisfying
His justice, appeasing His wrath, procuring His favor, and obtaining His
pardon. This is to put Christ out of office, and make a Savior of our own
duties and graces. Beware of this, O professing Christians; you are much in
duties−but this one fly will spoil all the ointment. When you have done most
and best, be sure to go out of yourselves−to Christ; reckon your own
righteousness as filthy rags (Phil 3:9; Isa 64:6).
 A secret enmity against the strictness of true
religion. Many moral people, punctilious in their formal
devotions, have yet a bitter enmity against strictness and zeal, and hate
the life and power of true religion. They do not like this forwardness, nor
that men should make such a stir in religion. They condemn the strictness of
religion as singularity, indiscretion, and intemperate zeal, and with them a
zealous preacher or fervent Christian is but a wild enthusiast. These men do
not love holiness as holiness (for then they would love the height of
holiness), and therefore are undoubtedly rotten at heart, whatever good
opinion they have of themselves.
 The resting in a certain degree of religion.
When they have so much as will save them, as they suppose, they look
no farther, and so show themselves short of true grace, which always sets
men aspiring to perfection (Phil 3:13; Prov 4:18).
 The predominant love of the world. This is
the sure evidence of an unsanctified heart. 'If any man loves the world, the
love of the Father is not in him' (1 John 2:15). But how often does this sin
lurk under the fair cover of profession. Yes, such a power of deceit is
there in this sin that many times, when everybody else can see the man's
worldliness and covetousness, he cannot see it himself−but has so many
excuses and pretenses for his eagerness after the world, that he blinds his
own eyes and perishes in his self−deceit! How many professing Christians are
there, with whom the world has more of their hearts and affections than
Christ, 'who mind earthly things', and thereby are evidently after the
flesh, and likely to end in destruction (Rom 8:5; Phil 3:19). Yet ask these
men, and they will tell you confidently they prize Christ above all; for
they do not see their own earthly−mindedness for lack of a strict observance
of the workings of their own hearts. Did they but carefully search, they
would quickly see that their greatest satisfaction is in the world, and that
their greatest care and main endeavor are to get and secure the world−which
are the certain signs of an unconverted sinner. May the professing part of
the world take earnest heed lest they perish by the hand of this sin
unobserved. Men may be, and often are, kept off from Christ as effectually
by the inordinate love of lawful comforts, as by the most wicked lives.
 Reigning malice and envy against those
that disrespect them, and are injurious to them. Oh how do many who seem to
be religious, remember injuries and carry grudges, rendering evil for evil,
loving to take revenge, wishing evil to those who wrong them. This is
directly against the rule of the Gospel, the pattern of Christ, and the
nature of God. Doubtless, where this evil is kept boiling in the heart, and
is not hated, resisted, and mortified−but habitually prevails, that person
is in the very gall of bitterness, and in a state of death (Matt 18:32−35; 1
 Unmortified pride. When men love the
praise of men more than the praise of God, and set their hearts upon men's
esteem, applause, and approbation−it is most certain that they are yet in
their sins, and strangers to true conversion (John 12:43; Gal 1:10). When
men do not see, nor complain, nor groan under the pride of their own
hearts−it is a sign they are stark dead in sin! Oh how secretly does this
pride live and reign in many hearts, and they know it not−but are total
strangers to themselves (John 9:40).
 The prevailing love of pleasure. This is
a black mark. When men give the flesh the liberty that it craves, and pamper
and please it, and do not deny and restrain it; when their great delight is
in gratifying their bellies and pleasing their senses; whatever appearances
they may have of religion−all is unsound. A flesh−pleasing life cannot be
pleasing to God. 'Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh', and are
careful to keep it under control, as their enemy (Gal 5:24; 1 Cor 9:25−27).
 Carnal security, or a presumptuous
confidence that their condition is already good. Many cry, 'Peace and
safety', when sudden destruction is coming upon them. This was that which
kept the foolish virgins sleeping when they should have been working−upon
their beds when they should have been at the markets. They did not perceive
their lack of oil until the bridegroom was come; and while they went to buy,
the door was shut! And oh that these foolish virgins had no successors!
Where is the place, yes, where is the house almost, where these do not
dwell? Men are willing to cherish in themselves, upon ever so slight
grounds, a hope that their condition is good−and by these means perish in
their sins. Are you at peace? Show me upon what grounds your peace is
maintained. Is it Scripture peace? Can you show the distinguishing marks of
a sound believer? Can you evidence that you have something more than any
hypocrite in the world ever had? If not, fear this peace more than any
trouble; and know that a carnal peace commonly proves the most mortal enemy
of the soul, and while it smiles and kisses and speaks fairly−it fatally
smites, as it were, under the fifth rib.
By this time I think I hear my readers crying out, with
the disciples, 'Who then shall be saved?' [Matt 19:25; Mark 10:26; Luke
18:26] Set out from our congregations all those ten ranks of the profane
on the one hand, and then take out all these twelve classes of
self−deceiving hypocrites on the other hand−and tell me whether it is
only a remnant that shall be saved. How few will be the sheep that shall be
left, when all these shall be separated and set among the goats. For my
part, of all my numerous hearers, I have no hope to see any of them in
heaven that are to be found among these twenty−two classes that are here
mentioned, except by sound conversion they are brought into another
And now, conscience, do your work! Speak out, and
speak home to him who hears or reads these lines. If you find any of these
marks upon him, you must pronounce him utterly unclean. Do not take a lie
into your mouth. Do not speak peace to him to whom God speaks no peace. Do
not let self−love or carnal prejudice bribe or blind you. I summon you from
the court of heaven to come and give evidence. As you will answer it at your
peril, give a true report of the state and case of him who reads this book.
Conscience, will you altogether be silent at such a time as this? I adjure
you by the living God that you tell the truth. Is the man converted−or is he
not? Does he allow himself in any way of wickedness−or does he not? Does he
truly love, and please, and prize, and delight in God above all things−or
not? Come, give a definite answer.
How long shall this soul live in uncertainty? O
conscience, bring in your verdict. Is this man a new man−or is he not? How
do you find it? Has there passed a thorough and mighty change upon him−or
not? When was the time, where was the place−or what were the means by which
this thorough change of the new birth was wrought in his soul? Speak,
conscience; or if you cannot tell the time and place, can you show Scripture
evidence that the work is done? Has the man ever been taken off from his
false foundation, from the false hopes and false peace in which once he
trusted? Has he been deeply convinced of sin, and of his lost and undone
condition, and brought out of himself, and off from his sins−to give himself
up entirely to Jesus Christ? Or do you not find him to this day under the
power of ignorance−or in the mire of worldliness? Have you not found upon
him the gains of unrighteousness? Do you not find him a stranger to prayer,
a neglecter of the Word, a lover of this present world? Do you not sometimes
catch him in a lie? Do you not find his heart fermented with malice−or
burning with lust−or going after his covetousness? Speak plainly to all the
forementioned particulars. Can you acquit this man, this woman, from being
in any of the twenty−two classes here described? If he is found in any of
them, set him aside; his portion is not with the saints. He must be
converted and made a new creature−or he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Beloved, do not be your own betrayers. Do not deceive
your own hearts, nor set your hands to your own ruin by a willful blinding
of yourselves. Set up a tribunal in your own breasts. Bring the Word and
conscience together. 'To the law and to the testimony.' [Isa 8:20] Hear what
the Word concludes of your state. Oh follow the search until you find how
the case stands. Make a mistake here−and you perish! And, such is the
treachery of the heart, the subtlety of the temper, and the deceitfulness of
sin−all conspiring to flatter and deceive the poor soul; and so common and
easy it is to make a mistake, that it is a thousand to one that you will be
deceived, unless you are very careful and thorough and impartial in the
inquiry into your spiritual condition.
Oh therefore be diligent in your work; go to the bottom,
search with candles; weigh yourself in the balance, come to the standard of
the sanctuary; bring your coin to the touchstone. Satan is a master of
deceit; he can draw to the life; he is perfect in the trade; there is
nothing which he cannot imitate. You cannot wish for any grace−but he can
fit you with a counterfeit. Be jealous; trust not even your own heart. Go to
God to search you and try you, to examine you and prove your thoughts. If
other helps do not suffice to bring all to an issue−but you are still at a
loss, consult some godly and faithful minister or Christian friend. Do not
rest until you have put the business of your eternal welfare out of doubt.
'O Searcher of hearts, set this soul searching, and help him in his search.'
So unspeakably dreadful is the case of every unconverted
soul, that I have sometimes thought if I could only convince men that they
are still unregenerate, the work would be more than half done.
But I find by sad experience that such a spirit of sloth
and slumber possesses the unsanctified that, though they are convinced that
they are yet unconverted, often they carelessly sit still. Through the love
of sensual pleasure−or the hurry of worldly business−or the noise and clamor
of earthly cares and lusts and affections−the voice of conscience is
drowned, and men go no farther than some faint wishes and general purposes
of repenting and amending.
It is therefore of high necessity that I not only
convince men that they are unconverted−but that I also endeavor to bring
them to a sense of the fearful misery of this state.
But here I find myself aground at first setting off. What
tongue can tell the heirs of hell sufficiently of their misery, unless it
were Dives in that flame (Luke 16:24)? Where is the ready writer whose pen
can depict the misery of those who are without God in the world? This cannot
fully be done, unless we know the infinite ocean of bliss which is in
perfection in God, and from which a state of sin excludes men. 'Who knows',
says Moses, 'the power of your anger?' (Psalm 90:11). And how shall I tell
men that which I do not know? Yet so much we know, as one would think would
shake the heart of that man that had the least degree of spiritual life and
But this is yet the more perplexing difficulty, that I
am to speak to those who are spiritually dead! Alas! this is not the
least part of man's misery−that he is dead, dead in trespasses and sins.
Could I bring paradise into view−or represent the kingdom
of heaven to as much advantage as the tempter did the kingdoms of the world,
and the glory thereof, to our Savior; or could I uncover the face of the
deep and devouring gulf of Hell in all its terrors, and open the gates of
the infernal furnace; alas, he has no eyes to see it! Could I paint the
beauties of holiness, or the glory of the Gospel; or could I expose to view
the more than diabolical deformity and ugliness of sin; he can no more judge
of the loveliness and beauty of the one, and the filthiness and hatefulness
of the other, than a blind man of colors. He is alienated from the life of
God, through the ignorance that is in him because of the blindness of his
heart (Eph 4:18). He neither knows nor can know−the things of God, because
they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). His eyes cannot be savingly
opened but by converting grace (Acts 26:18). He is a child of darkness, and
walks in darkness. Yes, the light in him is darkness.
Shall I read his eternal sentence−or sound in his ear the
terrible trumpet of God's judgments, that one would think should make both
his ears tingle, and strike him into Belshazzar's fit, even to change his
countenance, loose his joints, and make his knees smite one against another?
Alas, he perceives me not−he has no ears to hear! Or shall I call up the
daughters of music, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb? Yet he will not
be stirred. Shall I allure him with the joyful sound, and lovely song, and
glad tidings of the Gospel; with the most sweet and inviting calls,
comforts, and cordials of the divine promises so exceedingly great and
precious? It will not affect him savingly, unless I could find him ears, as
well as tell him the news.
What then shall I do? Shall I show him the lake which
burns with fire and brimstone; or shall I open the box of spikenard, very
precious, which fills the whole house of the universe with its perfume, and
hope that the savor of Christ's ointments and the smell of His garments will
attract him? Alas! dead sinners are like the dumb idols; they have
mouths−but they speak not; have they eyes−but they see not; they have
ears−but they hear not; they have noses−but they smell not; they have
hands−but they handle not; they have feet−but they walk not; neither do they
speak through their throat [Psalm 115:5−7]. They are destitute of spiritual
life and motion.
But let me try the sense that last leaves us, and draw
the sword of the Word; yet, though I choose my arrows from God's quiver, and
direct them to the heart, nevertheless he does not feel it; for how should
he, being past feeling? (Eph 4:19). So that, though 'the wrath of God abides
on him' [John 3:36], and the mountainous weight of so many sins−yet he goes
up and down as light as if nothing ailed him. In a word, he carries a dead
soul in a living body; and his flesh is but the walking coffin of a corrupt
mind that is twice dead (Jude 12).
Which way then shall I come at the miserable object whom
I have to deal with? Who shall make the heart of stone relent−or the
lifeless carcass to feel and move? That God who is able from stones to raise
up children unto Abraham, who raises the dead, and melts the mountains, and
strikes water out of the flint; who loves to work beyond the hopes and
belief of man, who peoples His church with dry bones−He is able to do this!
Therefore I bow my knee to the most high God, and as our Savior prayed at
the sepulcher of Lazarus, and the Shunammite ran to the man of God for her
dead child, so your mourning minister carries you in the arms of prayer, to
that God in whom your help is found.
'O all−powerful Jehovah, who works, and none can hinder
You, who has the keys of death and hell−pity the dead souls that lie here
entombed, and roll away the gravestone, and say as to the dead body of
Lazarus, Come forth! Enlighten this darkness, O inaccessible Light,
and let the dayspring from on high visit the dark regions of the dead, to
whom I speak; for You can open the eye that death itself has closed. You
that formed the ear, can restore the hearing. Say to these ears,
Ephphatha! and they shall be opened. Give eyes to see Your
excellencies, a taste that may relish Your sweetness, a scent
that may savor Your ointment, a feeling that may discern the
privilege of Your favor, the burden of Your wrath, the intolerable weight of
unpardoned sin! And give Your servant the command to prophesy to dry bones,
and let the effects of this prophecy be as of Your prophet when he
prophesied the valley of dry bones into a living army exceeding great!'
But I must proceed, as I am able, to unfold that misery
which, I confess, no tongue can unfold, no heart can sufficiently
comprehend. Know therefore that while you are unconverted:
1. The infinite God is engaged against you! It
is no small part of your misery that you are without God. How does Micah run
crying after the Danites, 'You have taken away my gods, and what have I
more?' (Judg 18:24). Oh what a mourning then must you lift up, who are
without God, who can lay no claim to Him without daring usurpation! How
piercing a moan is that of Saul in his last extremity, 'The Philistines are
upon me−and God is departed from me!' (1 Sam 28:15). Sinners, what will you
do in the day of your visitation? Where will you flee to for help? What will
you do when the Philistines are upon you; when the world shall take its
eternal leave of you; when you must bid your friends, houses, and lands,
farewell for evermore? What then, I say, will you do−who have not God to go
to? Will you call on Him? Will you cry to Him for help? Alas, He will not
own you! He will not take any notice of you−but will send you away with
'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity!' (Matt 7:23).
Those who know what it is to have a God to go to, a God
to live upon−they know a little what a fearful misery it is to be without
God. This made a holy man cry out, 'Let me have God or nothing. Let me know
Him and His will, and what will please Him, and how I may come to enjoy
But you are not only without God−but God is against you!
Oh if God would stand neutral, though He did neither own nor help the poor
sinner, his case would not be so deeply miserable. Though God should give up
the poor creature to the will of his enemies, to do their worst with him;
though He should deliver him over to the tormentors, that devils should tear
and torture him to their utmost power and skill−yet this were not half so
fearful. But God will set Himself against the sinner; and, believe it, 'It
is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' (Heb 10:31).
As there is no friend like Him−so there is no enemy like Him. As much as
heaven is above the earth, omnipotence above impotence, so much more
terrible is it to fall into the hands of the living God, than into the paws
of bears and lions, yes, furies or devils. God Himself will be your
tormentor; your destruction shall come from the presence of the Lord (2
If God be against you, who shall be for you? 'If one man
sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the
Lord, who shall entreat for him?' (1 Sam 2:25). 'You, even you, are to be
feared; and who shall stand in your sight when you are angry?' (Psalm 76:7).
Who or what shall deliver you out of His hands? Can money? 'Riches
profit not in the day of wrath' (Prov 11:4). Can kings or warriors? No;
'they shall cry to the mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them
from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;
for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?'
Sinner, I think this would go like a dagger to your
heart, to know that God Himself is your enemy! Oh where will you go? Where
will you shelter yourself? There is no hope for you, unless you lay down
your weapons and sue out your pardon, and get Christ to stand as your friend
and make your peace. If it were not for this, you might go into some howling
wilderness, and there pine in sorrow, and run mad for anguish of heart and
horrible despair. But in Christ there is a possibility of mercy for you,
yes, an offer of mercy to you, that you may have God more for you, than He
is now against you. But if you will not forsake your sins, nor turn
thoroughly and purposefully to God by a sound conversion, the wrath of God
abides on you, and He proclaims Himself to be against you, as in the
prophet: 'I myself, the Sovereign Lord, am now your enemy!' (Ezek 5:8).
 His FACE is against you. 'The face of the
Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them'
(Psalm 34:16). Woe unto them whom God shall set His face against! When He
did but look on the armies of the Egyptians, how terrible was the
consequence! 'I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign
and a proverb, and will cut him off from the midst of my people; and you
shall know that I am the Lord' (Ezek 14:8).
 His HEART is against you. He hates all the
workers of iniquity. Man, does not your heart tremble to think of your
being an object of God's hatred? 'Though Moses and Samuel stood before
me−yet my mind could not be towards this people: cast them out of my sight'
(Jer 15:1). 'My soul loathed them, and their souls also abhorred me'
 All His ATTRIBUTES are against you. His JUSTICE
is like a flaming sword unsheathed against you. "As surely as I
live, when I sharpen My flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I
will bring vengeance on My enemies and repay those who hate Me!" (Deut
32:41−42). So exact is justice that it will by no means clear the guilty.
God will not discharge you, He will not hold you guiltless−but will require
the whole debt in person from you, unless you can make a Scripture claim to
Christ and His satisfaction. When the enlightened sinner looks on justice,
and sees the balance in which he must be weighed and the sword by which he
must be executed, he feels an earthquake in his bosom; but Satan keeps this
out of sight and persuades the soul, while he can, that the Lord is all made
up of mercy, and so lulls it asleep in sin. Divine justice is exact; it must
have satisfaction to the utmost farthing. It denounces 'indignation and
wrath, tribulation and anguish to every soul that does evil' (Rom 2:8−9). It
'curses every one that continues not in all things written in the book of
the law to do them' (Gal 3:10).
The justice of God to the unpardoned sinner who has a
sense of his guilt, is more terrible than the sight of the creditor to the
bankrupt debtor, of the judge and bench to the robber−or of the irons and
gibbet to the guilty murderer. When justice sits upon life and death, what
dreadful work does it make with the wretched sinner! 'Bind him hand and
foot; cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of
teeth.' 'Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire' (Matt 22:13;
Matt 25:41). This is the terrible sentence that justice pronounces. Sinner,
by this severe justice must you be tried; and as God lives, this killing
sentence must you hear, unless you repent and be converted.
The HOLINESS of God is against you. He is not only
angry with you−so He may be with His children−but He has a fixed habitual
displeasure against you. God's nature is infinitely contrary to sin, and so
He cannot delight in a sinner outside of Christ.
Oh what a misery is this, to be out of the favor, yes,
under the hatred of God; that God, who can as easily lay aside His nature
and cease to be God, as not be contrary to you and detest you, except you be
changed and renewed. Oh sinner, how dare you think of the bright and radiant
sun of purity−or the beauties, the glory of holiness in God? 'The stars are
not pure in his sight.' 'He humbles himself to behold things that are done
in heaven' (Job 25:5; Psalm 113:6). Oh those all−searching eyes of His! What
do they spy in you; and have you no saving interest in Christ−that He should
plead for you? I think He should hear you crying out, astonished, with the
Bethshemites, 'Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?' [1 Sam 6:20]
The POWER of God is mounted like a mighty cannon
against you. The glory of God's power is to be displayed in the amazing
confusion and destruction of those who obey not the gospel. He will make His
power known in them (Rom 9:22) how mightily He can torment them. For this
end He raises them up 'that he might make his power known' (Rom 9:17). O
man, are you able to contend with your Maker?
Sinner, the power of God's anger is against
you−and power and anger together make fearful work. It were better you had
all the world in arms against you than to have the power of God against you.
There is no escaping His hands−−no breaking loose from His prison. 'The
thunder of his power, who can understand?' (Job 26:14). Unhappy man−who
shall understand it by feeling it! 'Who has ever challenged him
successfully? Without warning, he moves the mountains, overturning them in
his anger. He shakes the earth from its place, and its foundations tremble.
If he commands it, the sun won't rise and the stars won't shine. He alone
has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. If he sends
death to snatch someone away, who can stop him? The mightiest forces against
him are crushed beneath his feet. If it is a matter of strength, look, He is
the Mighty One!' (Job 9). And are you a fit match for such an antagonist? 'O
consider this, you that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be
none to deliver' (Psalm 50:22). Submit to mercy. Let not dust and stubble
battle against the Almighty. Set not briers and thorns against Him in
battle, lest He go through them, and consume them together. But lay hold on
His strength that you may make peace with Him (Isa 27:4−5). 'Woe to him who
strives with his Maker!' (Isa 45:9).
The WISDOM of God is set to ruin you. He has
ordained His arrows, and prepared instruments of death, and made all things
ready (Psalm 7:11−13). His counsels are against you to contrive your
destruction (Jer 18:11). He laughs in Himself to see how you will be taken
and ensnared in the evil day (Psalm 37:13). 'The Lord shall laugh at him,
for he sees that his day is coming.' He sees how you will come down mightily
in a moment, how you will wring your hands, and tear your hair, and eat your
flesh, and gnash your teeth for anguish and astonishment of heart, when you
see you are fallen irremediably into the pit of destruction!
The TRUTH of God is sworn against you. If He is
faithful and true, you must perish if you go on in sin. Unless He is false
to His Word, you must die−unless you repent. 'If we believe not−yet he
abides faithful, he cannot deny himself' (2 Tim 2:13). He is faithful to His
threatenings as well as to His promises−and will show His
faithfulness in our destruction, if we believe not. God has told you as
plain as it can be spoken, that if He wash you not−you have no part in Him;
that if you live after the flesh−you shall die; that unless you be
converted−you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven (John 13:8; Rom
8:13; Matt 18:3). Beloved, as the immutable faithfulness of God in His
promise and oath affords believers strong consolation, so it is to
unbelievers for strong consternation and confusion.
Oh sinner, tell me, what do you think of all the
threatenings of God's Word, which stand upon record against you? Do
you believe they are true or not? If not, you are a wretched infidel. But,
if you do believe them, O heart of adamant that you have, that you can walk
up and down in quiet−when the truth and faithfulness of God are engaged to
destroy you! The whole book of God testifies against you while you remain
unconverted. It condemns you in every leaf, and is to you like Ezekiel's
roll, written within and without with lamentation, and mourning, and woe!
And all this shall surely come upon you−unless you repent. 'Heaven and earth
shall pass away−but one jot or tittle of this word shall never pass away'
Now, put all this together, and tell me if the case of
the unconverted is not deplorably miserable! As we read of some people who
had bound themselves by an oath and a curse to kill Paul; so you must know,
O sinner, that all the attributes of the infinite God are bound by an oath
to punish you. Oh man, what will you do? Where will you flee? If God's
omniscience can find you−you shall not escape. If the true and faithful God
will regard His oath, you must perish−unless you believe and repent. If the
Almighty has power to torment you, you must be totally miserable in soul and
body to all eternity, unless it be prevented by speedy conversion.
2. The whole CREATION of God is against you.
'The whole creation', says Paul, 'groans and travails in pain' (Rom 8:22).
But what is it that the creation groans under? The fearful abuse it is
subject to, in serving the lusts of unsanctified men. And what is it that
the creation groans for? For freedom and liberty from this abuse; for the
'creature is not willingly made subject to this bondage' (Rom 8:20−21). If
the irrational and inanimate creatures had speech and reason, they would cry
out under it, as a bondage insufferable, to be abused by the ungodly,
contrary to their natures and the ends which the great Creator made them
for. It is a saying of an eminent divine, 'The liquor that the drunkard
drinks, if it had reason, like a man, to know how shamefully it is abused,
would groan in the barrel against him, it would groan in the cup against
him, groan in his throat, in his stomach against him; it would fly in his
face, if it could speak. And if God should open the mouths of His creatures,
as He did the mouth of Balaam's donkey, the proud man's garment on his back
would groan against him. There is not a creature, if it had reason to know
how it is abused until a man is converted−but would groan against him. The
land would groan to bear him, the air would groan to give him breath, their
houses would groan to lodge them, their beds would groan to ease them, their
food to nourish them, their clothes to cover them, and the creature would
groan to give them any help and comfort, so long as they live in sin against
I think this would be a terror to an unconverted soul−to
think he is a burden to the creation. 'Cut it down; why does it use up the
ground?' (Luke 13:7). If inanimate creatures could but speak, your food
would say, 'Lord, must I nourish such a wretch as this, and yield forth my
strength for him, to dishonor You? No, I will choke him rather, if You will
give commission.' The very air would say, 'Lord, must I give this man
breath, to set his tongue against heaven, and scorn Your people, and vent
his pride and wrath, and filthy talk, and belch out oaths and blasphemy
against You? No, if You will but say the word, he shall be breathless for
me.' His poor beast would say, 'Lord, must I carry him upon his wicked
designs? No, I will break his bones, I will end his days−if I may have but
permission from You.' A wicked man−the earth groans under him, and hell
groans for him−until death satisfies both. While the Lord of hosts is
against you, be sure the host of the Lord is against you, and all the
creatures as it were up in arms until, upon a man's conversion, the
controversy being settled between God and him, He makes a covenant of peace
with the creature for him (Job 5:22−24; Hos 2:18−20).
3. SATAN has his full power over you. You are
held fast in the paw of that roaring lion who is greedy to devour (1 Pet
5:8); 'Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil's trap,
having been captured by him to do his will.' (2 Tim 2:26). This is the evil
spirit who works in the children of disobedience (Eph 2:2). His drudges they
are, and his lusts they do. He is the ruler of the darkness of this world
(Eph 6:12), that is, of ignorant sinners who live in darkness. You pity the
poor Indians who worship the devil for their god−but little think it is your
own case. It is the common misery of all the unsanctified−that the devil is
their god. Not that they intend to do him homage. They will be ready to defy
him−but all this while they serve him, and live under his government. 'His
servants you are to whom you obey' (Rom 6:16). O how many then will be found
to be the real servants of the devil, who take themselves for no other than
the children of God!
He can no sooner offer a sinful delight or opportunity
for your unlawful advantage than you embrace it. If he suggests a lie−or
prompts you to revenge, you readily obey. If he forbids you to read or pray,
you hearken to him, and therefore his servants you are. Indeed, he stands
behind the curtain, he acts in the dark, and sinners do not see who sets
them working−but all the while he leads them. Doubtless the liar does not
intend to serve Satan but his own advantage; yet it is he who stands
unobserved and puts the thing into his heart. Undoubtedly Judas when he sold
his Master for money, and the Chaldeans and Sabeans when they plundered Job,
did not intend to do the devil a pleasure−but to satisfy their own covetous
thirst; yet it was he who actuated them in their wickedness (John 13:27; Job
1:12,15,17). Men may be very slaves and common drudges for the devil and not
know it; nay, they may please themselves in thoughts of liberty!
Are you yet in ignorance and not turned from darkness
unto light? I fear that you are under the power of Satan. Do you live in the
wilful practice of any known sin? Know that you are of the devil. Do you
live in strife−or envy−or malice? Truly he is your father. O dreadful case!
However Satan may provide his slaves with various pleasures−yet it is but
to draw them into endless perdition. The serpent comes with the fruit in
his mouth but, like Eve−−you do not see the deadly sting! He who is now your
tempter−−will one day be your tormentor! O that I could but make you see how
bad a master you serve, how merciless a tyrant you gratify; whose pleasure
is to make your perdition and damnation sure, and to heat the furnace hotter
and hotter in which you must burn for millions and millions of ages!
4. The guilt of all your SINS lies like a mountain upon
you. Poor soul, you do not feel it−but this is that which seals
your misery. While unconverted, none of your sins are blotted out, they are
all upon record against you. Regeneration and remission of sins, are never
separated; the unsanctified are unjustified and unpardoned. It is a fearful
thing to be in debt−but above all, in God's debt; for there is no arrest so
formidable as His, no prison so dreary as His. Look upon an enlightened
sinner who feels the weight of his own guilt; oh how frightful are His
looks, how fearful are his complaints! His comforts are turned into
wormwood, and his moisture into drought, and his sleep is departed from his
eyes. He is a terror to himself and all that are about him, and is ready to
envy the very stones that lie in the street, because they are without sense
and do not feel his misery, and he wishes he had been a dog rather than a
man because then death had put an end to his misery; whereas now it will be
but the beginning of that which will know no ending.
However you may make light of it now−you will one day
find the guilt of unpardoned sin to be a heavy burden. This is a millstone
that 'whoever falls upon it shall be broken; but upon whoever it shall fall,
it will grind him to powder' (Matt 21:44). The guilt of our sins caused the
agony and death of the blessed Savior. And if it did this in the green tree,
what will it do in the dry?
Oh think of your case in time. Can you think of that
threat without trembling, 'You shall die in your sins!' (John 8:24). Oh,
better were it for you to die in a jail, in a ditch, in a dungeon, than die
in your sins. If death, as it will take away all your comforts, would take
away all your sins too, it would be some mitigation; but your sins will
follow you when your friends leave you, and all worldly enjoyments shake
hands with you. Your sins will not die with you as a prisoner's other debts
will; but they will go to judgment with you there to be your accusers; and
they will go to hell with you there to be your tormentors. O the work that
these will make you! O look over your debts in time; how everyone of God's
commandments is ready to arrest you, and take you by the throat for the
innumerable bonds it has upon you. What will you do, then, when they shall
all together come in against you? Hold open the eyes of your conscience to
consider this, that you may despair of yourself and be driven to Christ, and
fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope that is set before you.
5. Your raging LUSTS miserably enslave you.
While unconverted you are a very servant to sin; it reigns over you, and
holds you under its dominion, until you are brought within the bonds of
God's covenant. There is not such another tyrant as sin. O the vile and
fearful work that it engages its servants in!
Would it not pierce your heart to see a company of poor
creatures drudging and toiling to carry together faggots and fuel for their
own burning? This is the employment of sin's drudges.
Even while they bless themselves in their unrighteous
gains, while they sing in their pleasure−they are but treasuring up
vengeance for their eternal burning; they are but adding to the pile of
Tophet, and flinging in oil to make the flame rage the fiercer. Who would
serve such a master−whose work is drudgery−whose wages are death?
What a woeful spectacle was the poor wretch possessed
with the legion of demons! Would it not have grieved your heart to see him
among the tombs cutting and wounding himself? This is your case; such is
your work; every stroke is a thrust at your heart. Conscience indeed is now
asleep; but when death and judgment shall bring you to your senses, then
will you feel the anguish in every wound.
The convinced sinner is an instance of the miserable
bondage of sin. Conscience flies upon him, and tells him the end of these
things; and yet he is such a slave to his lusts that on he goes, though he
sees it will be his perdition. When the temptation comes, lust breaks the
cords of all his vows and promises, and carries him headlong to his own
6. The furnace of ETERNAL VENGEANCE is heated ready for
you. Hell and destruction open their mouths upon you; they gape
for you; they groan for you (Isa 5:14), waiting as it were with a greedy eye
as you stand on the brink. If the wrath of men be 'as the roaring of a lion'
(Prov 19:12), 'more heavy than the sand' (Prov 27:3), what is the wrath of
the infinite God? If the burning furnace heated in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery
rage, when he commanded it to be made seven times hotter, was so fierce as
to burn up even those who drew near to throw the three children in−how hot
is that burning of the Almighty's fury! Surely this is seventy times seven
more fierce. What do you think, O man, of being a faggot in hell to all
eternity? 'Can your heart endure−or can your hands be strong in the days
that I shall deal with you?' (Ezek 22:14). Can you abide the everlasting
burnings? Can you dwell with consuming fire, when you shall be as glowing
iron in hell, and your whole body and soul shall be as fully possessed by
God's burning vengeance as the sparkling iron with fire, when heated in the
Some of the choicest servants of God, when under the
hidings of His face, and dreading the effects of His displeasure, have
bewailed their condition with bitter lamentations. How then will you endure
when God shall pour out all His vials, and set Himself against you to
torment you, when He shall make your conscience the tunnel by which He will
be pouring His burning wrath into your soul forever, and when he shall fill
all your pores as full of torment as they are now full of sin, when
immortality shall be your misery, and to die the death of a brute, and be
swallowed in the gulf of annihilation, shall be such a felicity as the whole
eternity of wishes and an ocean of tears shall never purchase?
Now you can put off the evil day, and laugh and be merry,
and forget the terror of the Lord. But how will you hold out−or hold up,
when God casts you into a 'bed of torments' (Rev 2:22): and makes you to
'lie down in sorrow' (Isa 50:11); when roarings and blasphemies shall be
your only music, and the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out
without mixture into the cup of His indignation, shall be your only drink!
(Rev 14:10) In a word, when the smoke of your torment shall ascend forever
and ever, and you shall have no rest day and night, no rest in your
conscience, no ease in your bones; but you shall be an execration and
astonishment, and a curse and a reproach, for evermore! (Jer 42:18)
Oh sinner, stop here, and consider. If you are a man, and
not a senseless block, consider. Think where you are standing−upon the very
brink of destruction. As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, there is
but a step between you and this. You do not know when you lie down to sleep
tonight−but you may be in hell before morning. You do not know when you rise
up this day−but you may drop in before night. Dare you make light of this?
Will you go on in such a dreadful condition, as if nothing ailed you? If you
put it off and say that this does not belong to you, look again over the
previous chapter, and tell me the truth. Are none of those black marks found
upon you? Do not blind your eyes. Do not deceive yourself. See your misery
while you may prevent it. Think what it is to be a vile outcast, a lost
reprobate, a vessel of wrath, into which the Lord will be pouring out His
tormenting fury while He has a being. Divine wrath is a fierce, devouring,
everlasting, unquenchable fire−and this must be your portion, unless you
consider your ways, and speedily turn to the Lord by a sound conversion.
Sinner, it is in vain to flatter you−this would be but to
draw you into the unquenchable fire. Know from the living God that here you
must lie; with these burnings you must dwell until immortality dies and
immutability changes, until eternity runs out and omnipotence is no longer
able to punish−unless you be in good earnest renewed by sanctifying grace.
7. The LAW discharges all its threats and curses at you.
Oh how dreadfully does it thunder! It flashes devouring fire in
your face. Its words are as drawn swords, and as the sharp arrows of the
mighty. It demands satisfaction to the utmost, and cries, Justice!
Justice! It speaks blood, and war, and wounds, and death, against you. O
man away to your stronghold; away from your sins; haste to the sanctuary,
the city of refuge−even the Lord Jesus Christ. Hide in Him−or else you are
lost, without any hope of recovery.
8. The GOSPEL itself binds the sentence of eternal
damnation upon you. If you continue in your impenitent and
unconverted state, know that the Gospel denounces a much sorer condemnation
than ever would have been for the transgression only of the first covenant.
Is it not a dreadful case to have the Gospel itself fill its mouth with
threats; to have the Lord to roar from Mount Zion against you? (Joel 3:16).
Hear the terror of the Lord. 'He who believes not, shall be damned.' 'Unless
you repent, you shall all perish.' 'This is the condemnation, that light is
come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.' 'He who
believes not−the wrath of God abides on him.' 'If the word spoken by angels
was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just
recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?'
'He who despised Moses' law died without mercy: of how much more terrible
punishment shall he be thought worthy who has trodden under foot the Son of
God?' (Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; John 3:19,36; Heb 2:2−3; Heb 10:28−29).
And is this true indeed? Is this your misery? Yes, it is
as true as God is. Better open your eyes and see it now while you may remedy
it, than blind and harden yourself until, to your eternal sorrow, you shall
feel what you would not believe. And if it is true, what do you mean
by lingering and loitering in such a state as this?
Alas for you, poor man! How effectually has sin undone
you, depraved you and despoiled you even of your reason to look after your
own everlasting good! O miserable wretch! What stupidity and senselessness
have surprised you! Oh let me knock and awake this sleeper! Who dwells
within the walls of this flesh? Is there a soul here, a rational,
understanding soul; or are you only a senseless lump?
Are you a rational soul, and yet so far brutified as to
forget that you are immortal, and to think yourself to be as the beasts that
perish? Having reason to understand the eternity of the future state, do you
yet make light of being everlastingly miserable, which is to be so much
below the brute, as it is worse to act against reason than to act without
it? Oh unhappy soul−that was the glory of man, the companion of angels, and
the image of God; that was God's representative in the world, and had the
supremacy among the creatures, and the dominion over your Maker's works; are
you now become a slave to the world? Are you heaping together a little
refined earth, so unsuited to your spiritual immortal nature? Oh why do
you not consider where you will spend eternity? Death is at hand; the Judge
is even at the door. Yet a little while, and 'time shall be no longer' [Rev
10:6]. And will you run the hazard of continuing in such a state, in which,
if you are overtaken, you are irrecoverably miserable?
Come then, arise, and attend to your nearest concerns.
Tell me where you are going? What! will you live in such a course, in which
every act is a step to perdition; and you do not know but the next night you
may make your bed in hell? Oh, if you have a spark of reason, consider, and
turn and hearken to your true friend, who would show you your present
misery, that you might in time make your escape, and be eternally happy.
Hear what the Lord says. 'Do you not fear Me? Do you not
tremble before Me?' (Jer 5:22). O sinners, do you make light of the wrath to
come? I am sure there is a time coming when you will not make light of it.
Why! the very devils believe and tremble. What! are you more hardened
than they? Will you run upon the edge of the precipice? Will you play at the
hole of the asp? Will you put your hand into the cockatrice's den? Will you
dally with devouring wrath as if you were indifferent whether you escape or
endure it? There is no one so insane as the willful sinner, who goes on in
his unconverted state without thinking−as if nothing ailed him. The man that
runs into the cannon's mouth and sports with his blood−or lets out his life
in a frolic, is sensible, sober, and serious, compared with him who goes on
still in his trespasses. 'He shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself
against the Almighty' (Job 15:25). Is it wisdom to sport with the second
death−or to venture into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone? What
shall I say? I can find no expression, no comparison, by which to set forth
the dreadful madness of the soul that will go on in sin.
Awake! awake! O sinner, arise and take your flight. There
is but one door that you may flee by, and that is the narrow door of
conversion and the new birth. Unless you sincerely turn from all your sins,
and come to Jesus Christ, and take Him for the Lord your righteousness, and
walk in Him in holiness and newness of life; as the Lord lives, it is not
more certain that you are now out of hell, than that you shall without fail
be in it but a few days or nights from now! Oh set your heart to think of
your case. Does not your everlasting misery or welfare deserve a little
consideration? Look again over the miseries of the unconverted. If the Lord
has not spoken by me, regard me not; but if it is the very word of God that
all this misery lies upon you, what a state you are in! Is it for one that
has his senses to live in such a condition, and not to make all possible
haste to prevent his utter ruin?
O man, who has bewitched you, that in the matters of this
present life you shall be wise enough to forecast your business, foresee
your danger, and prevent your ruin; but in matters of everlasting
consequence shall be slight and careless, as if they little concerned you?
Is it nothing to you to have all the attributes of God engaged against you?
Can you live without His favor? Can you escape His hands−or endure His
vengeance? Do you hear the creation groaning under you, and hell groaning
for you−and yet think your case good enough? Are you under the power of
corruption, in the dark, noisome prison, fettered with lusts, working out
your own damnation−and is this not worth a thought? Will you make light of
all the terrors of the law, of all its curses and thunders, as if they were
but the threatenings of a child? Do you laugh at hell and destruction−or can
you drink the envenomed cup of the Almighty's fury?
Gird up now your loins like a man, and answer me. Are you
such a leviathan as that the scales of your pride should resist your Maker?
Will you esteem His arrows as straw, and the instruments of death as rotten
wood? Are you chief of all the children of pride, even that you should count
His darts as stubble, and laugh at the shaking of His spear? Do you mock at
fear, and are you not frightened, do you not turn back from God's sword when
His quiver rattles against you, the glittering spear and the shield? Well,
if the threats and calls of the Word will not awaken you−I am sure death
and judgment will. Oh what will you do when the Lord comes forth against
you, and in His fury falls upon you, and you shall feel what you now
If when Daniel's enemies were cast into the den of lions,
both they and their wives and their children, the lions had the mastery over
them and broke all their bones in pieces before they came to the bottom of
the den−what shall become of you when you fall into the hands of the living
Oh, do not then contend with God. Repent and be
converted, so none of this shall come upon you. 'Seek the Lord while He may
be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked one abandon his way,
and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, so He may have
compassion on him, and to our God, for He will freely forgive.' (Isa 55:6−7).
Before you read these directions, I advise you, yes, I
charge you before God and His holy angels, that you resolve to follow them,
as far as conscience shall be convinced of their agreeableness to God's Word
and your state; and call in His assistance and blessing that they may
succeed. And as I have sought the Lord and consulted His oracles as to what
advice to give you, so must you entertain it with that awe, reverence, and
purpose of obedience, which the word of the living God requires.
Now, then, attend. 'Set your heart unto all that I shall
testify unto you this day; for it is not a vain thing−it is your life' (Deut
32:46). This is the aim of all that has been spoken hitherto, to bring you
to set your heart upon turning to God. I would not trouble you, nor torment
you before the time with the thoughts of your eternal misery−but in order
that you may make your escape. Were you shut up under your present misery
without remedy, it were but mercy to let you alone, that you might take in
that little poor comfort which you are capable of in this world; but you may
yet be happy, if you do not willfully refuse the means of your recovery.
Behold, I hold open the door to you; arise, take your flight. I set the way
of life before you; walk in it, and you shall live, and not die. It
grieves me that you should be your own murderers, and throw yourselves
headlong, when God and man cry out to you, as Peter in another case to
his Master, 'Spare yourself.'
The destruction of ungodly men is willful. God has made
his people out to them, as Paul to the jailer when about to murder himself,
'Do yourself no harm.' [Acts 16:28] The ministers of Christ forewarn them,
and follow them, and would gladly have them back; but alas! no
expostulations or entreaties will prevail−but men will hurl themselves into
perdition, while pity itself looks on.
What shall I say? Would it not grieve a person of any
humanity, if, in the time of a raging plague, he should have a remedy that
would infallibly cure all the country and recover the most hopeless
patients, and yet his friends and neighbors should die by hundreds around
him, because they would not use it? Men and brethren, though you carry the
certain symptoms of death on your faces−yet I have a prescription that will
cure you all infallibly. Follow these directions, and if you do not then win
heaven, I will be content to lose it.
Hear, then, O sinner, and as ever you would be converted
and saved, take the following counsel.
1. Set it down with yourself as an undoubted truth, that it is impossible
for you ever to get to heaven in this your unconverted state.
Can any other but Christ save you? and He tells you He
will never do it except you are regenerated and converted. Does He not keep
the keys of heaven, and can you go in without His permission? as you must,
if ever you go in your natural condition, without a sound and thorough
2. Labor to get a thorough sight and lively sense and
feeling of your sins.
Until men are weary and heavy laden, and pricked at the
heart, and quite sick of sin, they will not come to Christ for cure, nor
sincerely enquire, 'What shall we do?' [Acts 2:37] They must see themselves
as dead men, before they will come unto Christ that they may live. Labor,
therefore, to set all your sins in order before you; do not be afraid to
look upon them−but let your spirit make diligent search. Enquire into your
heart, and into your life; enter into a thorough examination of yourself and
all your ways, that you may make a full discovery; and call in the help of
God's Spirit, out of a sense of your own inability to do this by yourself,
for it is His proper work to convince of sin. Spread all before your
conscience, until your heart and eyes are set weeping. Do not leave striving
with God and your own soul, until it cry out under the sense of your sins,
as the enlightened jailer, 'What must I do to be saved?' [Acts 16:30] To
Meditate on the NUMBER of your sins. David's heart
failed when he thought of this, and considered that he had more sins than
the hairs of his head. This made him cry out for the multitude of God's
tender mercies. The loathsome carcass does not more hatefully swarm with
crawling maggots, than an unsanctified soul with filthy lusts. They fill
his head, his heart, his eyes and his mouth. Look backward; where was ever
the place, what was ever the time, in which you did not sin? Look inward;
what part or power can you find in soul or body which is not poisoned with
sin; what duty do you ever perform, into which this poison is not shed? Oh
how great is the sum of your debts, who ha been all your life running into
debt, and never did or can pay off one penny! Look over the sin of your
nature, and all its cursed brood, the sins of your life. Call to mind your
omissions and commissions; the sins of your thoughts, words, and actions;
the sins of your youth, and the sins of your riper years. Do not be like a
desperate bankrupt who is afraid to look over his books. Read the records of
conscience carefully. These books must be opened sooner or later.
Meditate upon the AGGRAVATIONS of your sins, as they
are the grand enemies of the God of your life, and of the life of your soul;
in a word, they are the public enemies of all mankind. How do David, Ezra,
Daniel, and the good Levites, aggravate their sins, from the consideration
of their opposition to God and His good and righteous laws, and of the
mercies and warnings against which they were committed! Oh the work that sin
has done in the world! This is the enemy that has brought in death; that has
robbed and enslaved man, that has turned the world upside down, and sown the
dissensions between man and the creatures, between man and man, yes, between
man and himself, setting the animal part against the rational, the will
against the judgment, lust against conscience; yes, worst of all, between
God and man, making the sinner both hateful to God and the hater of God. O
man, how can you make so light of sin?
Sin is the traitor that thirsted for the blood of the Son
of God, that sold Him, that mocked Him, that scourged Him, that spat in His
face, that tore His hands, that pierced His side, that pressed His soul,
that mangled His body, that never left Him until he had bound Him, condemned
Him, nailed Him, crucified Him, and put Him to an open shame! Sin is that
deadly poison, so powerful of operation that one drop of it, shed on the
root of mankind, has corrupted, spoiled, poisoned, and ruined the whole
race. Sin is the bloody executioner that has killed the prophets, burned the
martyrs, murdered all the apostles, all the patriarchs, all the kings and
potentates. Sin has destroyed cities, swallowed empires, and devoured whole
nations. Whatever weapon it was done by, it was sin that caused the
execution. Do you yet think sin only a small thing?
If Adam and all his children could be dug out of their
graves, and their bodies piled up to heaven, and an inquiry were made as to
what heinous murderer were guilty of all this blood, it would be all found
Study the nature of sin, until your heart incline to fear
and loathe it; and meditate on the aggravations of your particular sins, how
you have sinned against all God's warnings, against your own prayers,
against mercies, against corrections, against clearest light, against freest
love, against your own resolutions, against promises, vows, and covenants of
better obedience. Charge your heart with these things until it blush for
shame, and be brought out of all good opinion of itself.
Meditate on the DESERT of sin. It cries to Heaven; it
calls for vengeance. Its due wages are death and damnation; it brings the
curse of God upon the soul and body. The least sinful word or thought lays
you under the infinite wrath of God. O what a load of wrath, what a weight
of curses, what treasures of vengeance, have all the millions of your sins
deserved! Oh judge yourself that the Lord may not judge you.
Meditate on the deformity and DEFILEMENT of sin. It
is black as hell, the very image and likeness of the devil drawn upon the
soul. It would terrify you to see yourself in the hateful deformity of your
nature. There is no mire so unclean, no plague or leprosy so detestable as
sin, in which you are plunged and rendered more displeasing to the pure and
holy nature of the glorious God than the vilest object can be to you. Could
you take up a toad into your bosom; could you cherish it, and take delight
in it? But you are as contrary to the pure and perfect holiness of the
divine nature, until you are purified by the blood of Jesus and the power of
Above all other sins, consider these two.
 The sin of your heart. It is to little
purpose to lop off the branches while the root of corruption remains
untouched. In vain do men stop up the streams, when the fountain is running
which fills up all again. Let the axe of your repentance, with David's go to
the root of sin. Study how deep, how permanent is your natural pollution,
how universal it is, until you cry out, with Paul, against your body of
death. The heart is never soundly broken until thoroughly convinced of the
heinousness of its original and deep−rooted depravity. Here fix your
thoughts; Sin is that which makes you backward to all good, and prone to all
evil; that sheds blindness, pride, prejudice, and unbelief into your mind;
enmity, inconstancy, and obstinacy into your will; inordinate heats
and colds into your affections; insensibleness and unfaithfulness
into your conscience; slipperiness into your memory. In a
word, sin has put every wheel of the soul out of order, and made it, from a
habitation of holiness, to become a very hell of iniquity. This is what has
defiled and perverted all your members, and turned them into weapons of
unrighteousness, and servants of sin; that has filled the head with carnal
and corrupt designs, the hand with sinful practices, the eyes with wandering
and wantonness, the tongue with deadly poison. This is what has opened the
ears to tales, flattery and filthy talk, and shut them against the
instructions of life; and has rendered your heart the cursed source of all
deadly imaginations, so that it pours out its wickedness without ceasing
even as naturally as a fountain pours forth its waters−or the raging sea
casts forth mire and dirt.
And will you yet be in love with yourself, and tell us
any longer of your good heart? Oh never leave meditating on the desperate
contagion, the original corruption of your heart, until, with Ephraim, you
bemoan yourself; and with the deepest shame and sorrow smite on your bosom,
as the publican; and, with Job, abhor yourself and repent in dust and ashes.
 The particular evil that you are most addicted to.
Find out all its aggravations; set home upon your heart all God's threats
against it. Repentance drives before it the whole herd−but especially sticks
the arrow in the beloved sin, and singles this out, above the rest, to run
it down. Oh labor to make this sin odious to your soul, and double your
guard and resolutions against it, realize that this is most dishonoring to
God and dangerous to you.
3. Strive to affect your heart with a deep sense of your present misery.
Read over the previous chapter again and again, and get
it out of the book into your heart. Remember when you lie down, that for
all you know, you may awake in flames; and when you rise up, that by the
next night you may make your bed in hell. Is it nothing to you to live
in such a fearful state, to stand tottering on the brink of the bottomless
pit; and to live at the mercy of every disease that, if it but fall upon
you, will send you forthwith into the burnings? Suppose you saw a condemned
wretch hanging over Nebuchadnezzar's burning fiery furnace by nothing but a
thread which was ready to break every moment, would not your heart tremble
for such a one? You are the man! This is your very case, O man, woman, who
reads this, if you are yet unconverted. What if the thread of your life
should break−and you know not but it may be the next night, yes, the next
moment−where would you be then? Where would you drop? Truly, upon the
breaking of this thread, you would fall into the lake that burns with
fire and brimstone, where you must lie while God has a being, if you die
in your present state. And does not your soul tremble as you read? Do not
your tears wet the paper, and your heart throb in your bosom? Do you not yet
begin to smite on your bosom, and think with yourself what need you have of
a change? Oh what is your heart made of? Have you not only lost all regard
to God−but all love and pity to yourself?
O study your misery until your heart cry out for Christ
as earnestly as ever a drowning man did for a boat−or the wounded man for a
surgeon. Men must come to see the danger and feel the smart of their deadly
sores and sickness−or Christ will be to them a physician of no value. The
manslayer hastens to the city of refuge, when pursued by the avenger of
blood; but men must be even forced and driven out of themselves−or they will
not come to Christ. It was distress and extremity that made the prodigal
think of returning. While Laodicea thinks herself rich, increased in goods,
in need of nothing, there is little hope. She must be deeply convinced of
her wretchedness, blindness, poverty, and nakedness, before she will come to
Christ for His gold, raiment, and eye salve. Therefore hold the eyes of
conscience open, amplify your misery as much as possible, do not flee the
sight of it for fear it should fill you with terror. The sense of your
misery is but as it were the festering of the wound, which is necessary to
the cure. Better now to fear the torments that await you−than to
feel them hereafter.
4. Settle it in your heart that you must look outside of
yourself and away from your own doings for help.
Do not think your praying, reading, hearing, confessing
or amending, will effect the cure. These must be attended to−but you are
undone if you rest in them. You are a lost man if you hope to escape
drowning on any other plank but Jesus Christ!
You must renounce your own wisdom, your own
righteousness, your own strength, and throw yourself wholly upon Christ−or
you cannot escape. While men trust in themselves, and establish their own
righteousness, and have confidence in the flesh, they will not come savingly
to Christ. You must know your gain to be but loss, your strength but
weakness, your righteousness to be but rags and rottenness, before there
will be an effectual closure between Christ and you. Can the lifeless body
shake off its grave−clothes, and unloose the cords of death? Then may you
recover yourself, who are dead in trespasses and sins, and under an
impossibility of serving your Maker acceptably in this condition.
Therefore, when you go to pray or meditate−or to do any
of the duties to which you are here directed, go out of yourself, and call
in the help of the Spirit, as despairing to do anything pleasing to God in
your own strength. Yet do not neglect duty. While the eunuch was reading,
then the Holy Spirit did send Philip to him. When the disciples were
praying, when Cornelius and his friends were hearing, then the Holy Spirit
fell upon and filled them all.
5. Henceforth renounce all your sins.
If you yield yourself to the practice of any sin, you are
undone. In vain do you hope for life by Christ, except you depart from
iniquity. Forsake your sins−or you cannot find mercy. You cannot be
married to Christ except you be divorced from sin. Give up the
traitor−or you can have no peace with heaven. Keep not Delilah in your lap.
You must part with your sins−or with your soul: spare but one sin and God
will not spare you. Your sins must die−or you must die for them. If you
allow one sin, though but a little, a secret one, though you may plead
necessity, and have a hundred shifts and excuses for it, the life of your
soul must go for the life of that sin. And will it not be dearly bought?
O sinner, hear and consider. If you will part with your
sins, God will give you His Christ. Is not this a fair exchange? I testify
unto you this day, that if you perish, it is not because there was never a
Savior provided, nor life tendered−but because, with the Jews, you prefer
the murderer before the Savior, sin before Christ, and love darkness rather
than light. Search your heart therefore with candles, as the Jews did their
houses for leaven before the Passover. Labor to find out your sins; enter
into your closet, and consider ... What evil have I lived in? ... What duty
have I neglected towards God? ... what sin have I lived in against my
brother? And now strike the darts through the heart of your sin, as
Joab did through Absalom's. Do not stand looking at your sins, nor rolling
the morsel under your tongue−but cast it out as poison, with fear and
Alas, what will your sins do for you that you should
hesitate to part with them? They will flatter you−but they will undo you and
poison you while they please you, and arm the justice and wrath of the
infinite God against you. They will open hell for you, and pile up fuel to
burn you. Behold the gibbet that they have prepared for you. O treat them
like Haman, and do upon them the execution they would else have done upon
you. Away with them, crucify them and let Christ only be Lord over you.
6. Make a solemn choice of God for your portion and blessedness.
With all possible devotion and veneration, take the Lord
for your God. Set the world, with all its glory, and paint, and gallantry,
with all its pleasures and promotions, on the one hand; and set God, with
all His infinite excellencies and perfections, on the other; and see that
you do deliberately make your choice. Take up your rest in God. Sit down
under His shadow. Let His promises and perfections turn the scale against
all the world. Settle it in your heart, that the Lord is an all−sufficient
portion, that you cannot be miserable while you have God to live upon. Take
Him for your shield and exceeding great reward. God alone is more than all
the world; content yourself with Him. Let others possess the preferments and
glory of the world; but you must place your happiness in the favor of God,
and in the light of His countenance.
Poor sinner, you have fallen off from God, and have
engaged His power and wrath against you; yet know, that of His abundant
grace He offers to be your God again in Christ. What do you say? Will you
have the Lord for your God? Take this counsel, and you shall have Him. Come
to Him by Christ, renounce the idols of your pleasures, gain, reputation.
Let these be pulled from their throne, and set God's interest uppermost in
your heart. Take Him as God, to be chief in your affections and purposes;
for He will not endure to have any set above Him. In a word, you must take
Him in all His personal relations and in all His essential perfections.
 In all His personal relations. God the
FATHER must be taken for your Father. O come to Him with the prodigal:
'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am not worthy
to be called your son' [Luke 15:21]; but since of Your wonderful mercy You
are pleased to take me, that am of myself most vile, even a beast and no man
before You−to be Your child, I solemnly take You for my Father, commend
myself to Your care, and trust to Your providence, and cast my burden on
You. I depend on Your provision, and submit to Your corrections, and trust
under the shadow of Your wings, and hide in Your chambers, and fly to Your
name. I renounce all confidence in myself; I repose my confidence in You. I
declare my engagement with You; I will be for You, and not for another.'
God the SON must be taken for your Savior, your Redeemer,
and your Righteousness. He must be accepted, as the only way to the Father,
and the only means of life. O then put off the raiment of your captivity,
put on the wedding garment, and go and marry yourself to Christ. 'Lord, I am
Yours, and all I have, my body, soul, and estate. I give my heart to You; I
will be Yours undividedly, Yours everlastingly. I will set Your name on all
I have, and use it only as Your goods, during Your absence, resigning all to
You. I will have no king but You to reign over me. Other lords have had
dominion over me; but now I will make mention of Your name only, and do here
take an oath of fidelity to You, promising to serve and fear You above all
competitors. I reject my own righteousness, and despair of ever being
pardoned and saved for my own duties or graces, and lean solely on Your
all−sufficient sacrifice and intercession for pardon, life, and acceptance
before God. I take You for my only Guide and Instructor, resolving to be
directed by You, and to wait for Your counsel.'
Lastly, God the SPIRIT must be taken for your Sanctifier,
for your Advocate, your Counselor, your Comforter, the Teacher of your
ignorance, the Pledge of your inheritance. 'Awake, you North wind, and come,
you South wind−and blow upon my garden' (Song 4:16). 'Come, Spirit of the
Most High; here is a temple for You; do You rest here forever; dwell here.
Lo, I give possession to You, full possession; I send You the keys of my
heart, that all may be Yours. I give up the use of all to You, that every
faculty and every member may be Your instrument to work righteousness and do
the will of my Father who is in heaven.'
 In all His essential perfections. Consider
how the Lord has revealed Himself to you in His Word. Will you take Him as
such a God? O sinner, here is the most blessed news that ever came to the
sons of men: The Lord will be your God, if you will but close with Him in
His excellencies. Will you have the merciful, the gracious, the
sin−pardoning God to be your God? 'O yes,' says the sinner, 'otherwise I am
undone.' But He further tells you, 'I am the holy and sin−hating God; if you
will be owned as one of My people, you must be holy−holy in heart, holy in
life. You must put away all your iniquities, be they ever so dear, ever so
natural, ever so necessary to the maintaining of your worldly interest.
Unless you will be at enmity with sin, I cannot be your God. Cast out the
leaven. Put away the evil of your doings; cease to do evil; learn to do
well. Bring forth My enemies−or there is no peace to be had with Me.' What
does your heart answer?
'Lord, I desire to be holy as You are holy, and to be
made partaker of Your holiness. I love You, not only for Your goodness and
mercy−but for Your holiness and purity. I take Your holiness for my
happiness. O be to me a fountain of holiness. Set on me the stamp and
impress of Your holiness. I will thankfully part with all my sins at Your
command. My wilful sins I do henceforth forsake; and for my infirmities that
cleave unto me, though I would be rid of them, I will strive against them
continually. I detest them, and will pray against them, and never let them
have rest in my soul.' Beloved, whoever of you will thus accept the Lord, He
shall be your God.
Again, He tells you, 'I am the all−sufficient God. Will
you lay all at My feet, give up all to My disposal, and take Me for your
only portion? Will you own and honor my all−sufficiency? Will you take Me as
your happiness and treasure, your hope and bliss? I am a sun and a shield
all in one; will you have Me for your all?' Now what do you say to this?
Does your soul long for the onions and fleshpots of Egypt? Are you loath to
change your earthly happiness for a portion in God; and though you would be
glad to have God and the world too−yet can you not think of having Him, and
nothing but Him; but had rather take up with the earth below, if God would
but let you keep it as long as you would? This is a fearful sign. But now,
if you are willing to sell all for the Pearl of great price; if your heart
answers, 'Lord, I desire no other portion but You. Take the grain and the
wine and the oil who will−just so that I may have the light of Your
countenance. I fix upon You for my happiness; I gladly venture myself on
You, and trust myself with You. I set my hope in You; I take up my rest with
You. Let me hear You say, "I am your God, your salvation," and I have
enough, all I wish for. I will make no terms with You but for Yourself. Let
me have You for sure, let me be able to make my claim and see my title to
Yourself; and for other things, I leave them to You. Give me more or less,
anything or nothing; I will be satisfied in my God.' Take Him thus, and He
is your own.
Again, He tells you, 'I am the sovereign Lord; if you
will have Me for your God you must give Me the supremacy. You must not make
Me second to sin or any worldly interest. If you will be My people I must
have the rule over you; you must not live at your pleasure. Will you come
under My yoke? Will you bow to My government? Will you submit to My
discipline, to My Word, to My rod?' Sinner, what do you say to this? 'Lord,
I had rather be at Your command than live at my own will. I had rather have
Your will to be done than mine. I approve of and consent to Your laws, and
account it my privilege to be under them. And though the flesh rebels, and
often break its bounds, I have resolved to take no other Lord but You. I
willingly take the oath of Your supremacy, and acknowledge You for my
Sovereign, and resolve all my days to pay the tribute of worship, obedience,
love, and service to You, and to live to You to the end of my life.' This is
a right acceptance of God.
To be short, He tells you, 'I am the true and faithful
God. If you will have Me for your God you must be content to trust Me. Will
you venture yourselves upon My Word, and depend on My faithfulness, and take
My bond for your security? Will you be content to follow Me in poverty, and
reproach, and affliction here; and to tarry until the next world for your
preferment? Will you be content to labor and suffer, and to tarry for your
returns until the resurrection of the just? My promise will not always be
instantly fulfilled; will you have the patience to wait?'
Now, beloved, what do you say to this? Will you have this
God for your God? Will you be content to live by faith, and trust Him for an
unseen happiness, an unseen heaven, an unseen glory? Do your hearts answer,
'Lord, we will venture ourselves upon You. We commit ourselves to You, we
cast ourselves upon You. We know whom we have trusted. We are willing to
take Your word; we prefer Your promises before our own possessions, and the
hopes of heaven before all the enjoyments of earth. We will do Your
pleasure−what You will here, so that we may have but Your faithful promise
for heaven hereafter.' If you can in trust, and upon deliberation, thus
accept of God, He will be yours. Thus there must be, in a right conversion
to God, a closing with Him suitable to His excellencies. But when men close
with His mercy−but yet love sin, hating holiness and purity; or will take
Him for their Benefactor−but not for their Sovereign; or for their Patron,
and not for their Portion; this is no thorough and sound conversion.
7. Accept the Lord Jesus in all His offices as yours.
Upon these terms Christ may be had. Sinner, you have
undone yourself, and are plunged into the ditch of most deplorable misery,
out of which you are never able to escape; but Jesus Christ is able and
ready to help you, and He freely offers Himself to you. Be your sins ever so
many, ever so great−or of ever so long continuance−yet you shall be most
certainly pardoned and saved, if you do not wretchedly neglect the offer
that in the name of God is here made to you. The Lord Jesus calls you to
look to Him and be saved. Come unto Him, and He will never cast you out.
Yes, He beseeches you to be reconciled. He cries in the streets; He knocks
at your door. He invites you to accept Him, and live with Him. If you die,
it is because you would not come to Him for life (Isa 45:22; John 6:37; 2
Cor 5:20; Prov 1:20; Rev 3:20; John 5:40).
Accept an offered Christ now, and you are made forever.
Give your consent to Him now, and the match is made; all the world cannot
hinder it. Do not stand off because of your unworthiness. I tell you,
nothing can undo you but your own unwillingness. Speak, man; will you give
your consent? Will you have Christ in all His relations to be yours−your
King, your Priest, your Prophet? Will you have Him and bear His cross? Do
not take Christ without consideration−but sit down first and count the cost.
Will you lay all at His feet? Will you be content to run all hazards with
Him? Will you take your lot with Him, fall where it will? Will you deny
yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him? Are you deliberately,
understandingly, freely determined to cleave to Him in all times and
conditions? If so, you shall never perish−but you have passed from death
unto life. Here lies the main point of your salvation, that you are found in
your covenant−closure with Jesus Christ; and therefore, if you love
yourself, see that you be faithful to God and your soul here.
8. Resign all your powers and faculties, and your whole interest to be His.
'They gave their own selves unto the Lord' (2 Cor 8:5).
'Present your bodies a living sacrifice' (Rom 12:1). The Lord seeks not
yours−but you. Resign therefore your body with its members to Him, and your
soul with all its powers, that He may be glorified in your body and in your
spirit, which are His.
In a right closing with Christ all your faculties are
given up to Him. Your judgment says, 'Lord, You are worthy of all
acceptance, Chief of ten thousand: happy is the man who finds You. All the
things that are to be desired are not to be compared with You' (Prov
The understanding lays aside its corrupt
reasonings and cavils, and its prejudices against Christ and His ways. It is
now past questioning, and determines for Christ against all the world. It
concludes it is good to be here, and sees such a treasure in this field,
such a value in this pearl, as is worth all (Matt 13:44−46). 'O here is the
richest prize that ever man was offered; here is the most sovereign remedy
that ever mercy prepared. He is worthy of my esteem, worthy of my choice,
worthy of my love, worthy to be embraced, adored, admired, for evermore (Rev
5:12). I approve of His articles: His terms are righteous and reasonable,
full of equity and mercy.'
Again, the will resigns. It stands no longer
wavering−but is peremptorily determined: 'Lord, Your love has overcome me,
You have won me, and You shall have me. Come in, Lord; to You I freely open;
I consent to be saved in Your own way. You shall have anything−nay, have
all, let me have but You.
The memory gives up to Christ: 'Lord, here is a
storehouse for You: out with the trash: lay in the treasures. Let me be a
repository of Your truth, Your promises, Your providences.'
The conscience comes in: 'Lord, I will ever side
with You: I will be Your faithful registrar. I will warn when the sinner is
tempted, and smite when You are offended. I will witness for You, and judge
for You, and guide into Your ways, and will never let sin have quiet in this
soul.' The affections also come to Christ: 'O,' says Love, 'I am sick for
'O,' says Desire, 'now I have what I sought for.
Here is the Desire of nations; here is bread for me, and balm for me: all
that I want.'
Fear bows the knee with awe and veneration: 'Welcome,
Lord, to You will I pay my homage. Your Word and rod shall command my
actions; You will I reverence and adore; before You will I fall down and
Grief likewise puts in: 'Lord, Your displeasure and
Your dishonor, Your people's calamities and my own iniquities, shall be what
shall set me a−weeping. I will mourn when You are offended; I will weep when
Your cause is wounded.'
Anger likewise comes in for Christ: 'Lord, nothing so
enrages me as my folly against You, that I should be so besotted as to
hearken to the flatteries of sin and the temptations of Satan against You.'
Hatred, too, will side with Christ: 'I protest mortal
enmity to Your enemies, that I will never be a friend to Your foes. I vow an
eternal quarrel with every sin. I will give no quarter, I will make no
peace.' Thus let all your powers yield to Jesus Christ.
Again, you must give up your whole interest to Him. If
there is anything that you keep back from Christ, it will be your undoing
(Luke 14:33). Unless you will forsake all, in preparation and resolution of
your heart, you cannot be His disciple. You must hate father and mother,
yes, and your own life also, in comparison with Him, and as far as it stands
in competition with Him. In a word, you must give Him yourself, and all that
you have without reservation−or else you can have no part in Him.
9. Choose the laws of Christ as the rule of your words,
thoughts and actions.
This is the true convert's choice. But here remember
these three rules.
1. You must choose them all, there is no getting to
heaven by a partial obedience. It is not enough to take up the cheap and
easy part of religion, and let alone the duties that are costly and
self−denying, and oppose the interests of the flesh; you must take all or
none. A sincere convert, though he makes conscience of the greatest sins and
weightiest duties−yet he makes true conscience of little sins and of all
2. You must choose Christ's laws for all times, for
prosperity and adversity. A true convert is resolved in his course; he
will stand to his choice, and will not set his back to the wind, and be of
the religion of the times. 'I have stuck to your testimonies; I have
inclined my heart to perform your statutes always, even to the end. Your
testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever. I will have respect to your
statutes continually' (Psalm 119:31,112,117).
3. This must be done deliberately and understandingly.
The disobedient son said, 'I go, sir,' but he went not. How fairly did
they promise, 'All that the Lord our God shall speak unto you we will do
it!' And it is likely they meant what they said. But when it came to the
trial it was found that there was not such a heart in them as to do what
they had promised (Deut 5:27,29).
If you would be sincere in closing with the laws and the
ways of Christ, study the meaning, and breadth, and extent of them.
Remember that they are spiritual; they reach the very thoughts and
inclinations of the heart; so that, if you will walk by this rule, your very
thoughts and inward motions must be under government. Again, they are very
strict and self−denying, quite contrary to your natural inclinations. You
must take the strait gate, the narrow way, and be content to have the flesh
curbed from the liberty it desires. In a word, they are very large, for
'your commandment is exceeding broad' (Psalm 119:96).
Do not rest in general commands, for there is much deceit
in them−but bring down your heart to the particular commands of Christ.
Those Jews, in the prophet, seemed as well resolved as any in the world, and
called God to witness that they meant as they said. But they rested in
generals. When God's command crosses their inclination, they will not obey (Jer
42:1−6; Jer 43:2). Take the Westminster Assembly's Larger Catechism, and see
their excellent and most comprehensive exposition of the commandments, and
put your heart to it. Are you resolved, in the strength of Christ, to set
upon the conscientious practice of every duty that you find to be required
of you, and to set against every sin that you find to be forbidden? This is
the way to be sound in God's statutes, that you may never be ashamed (Psalm
Observe the special duties that your heart is most
against, and the special sins that it is most inclined to, and see whether
it be truly resolved to perform the one and forgo the other. What do you
say to your bosom sin, your profitable sin? What do you say to costly,
hazardous, and flesh−displeasing duties? If you halt here, and do not
resolve, by the grace of God, to cross the flesh and be in earnest, you are
10. Let all this be completed in a solemn covenant
between God and your soul.
Set apart some time, more than once, to be spent in
secret before the Lord−in seeking earnestly His special assistance and
gracious acceptance of you−in searching your heart, whether you are
sincerely willing to forsake all your sins, and to resign yourself, body and
soul, unto God and His service; to serve Him in holiness and righteousness
all the days of your life.
Compose your spirit into the most serious frame possible,
suitable to a transaction of so high importance. Lay hold on the covenant of
God, and rely on His promise of giving grace and strength, by which you may
be enabled to perform your promise. Do not trust to your own strength, to
the strength of your own resolutions; but take hold on His strength.
Being thus prepared, on some convenient time set apart
for the purpose, enter upon the work, and solemnly, as in the presence of
the Lord, fall down on your knees and spreading forth your hands towards
heaven open your heart to the Lord in these−or the like words:
'O most holy God, for the passion of Your Son, I beseech
You accept Your poor prodigal now prostrating himself at Your door. I have
fallen from You by my iniquity, and am by nature a son of death, and a
thousand−fold more the child of hell by wicked practice. But of Your
infinite grace You have promised mercy to me in Christ, if I will but turn
to You with all my heart. Therefore, upon the call of Your gospel, I am now
come in, and throwing down my weapons, submit myself to Your mercy. And
because You require, as the condition of my peace with You, that I should
put away my idols, and be at defiance with all Your enemies, which I
acknowledge I have wickedly sided with against You, I here from the bottom
of my heart renounce them all, firmly covenanting with You, not to allow
myself in any known sin−but conscientiously to use all the means that I know
You have prescribed for the death and utter destruction of all my
'And whereas formerly I have inordinately and
idolatrously set my affections upon the world, I do here resign my heart to
You who made it, humbly declaring before Your glorious Majesty, that it is
the firm resolution of my heart, and that I do sincerely desire grace from
You, that when You shall call me hereunto, I may practice this my resolution
through Your assistance, to forsake all that is dear unto me in this world,
rather than to turn from You to the ways of sin; and that I will watch
against all its temptations, whether of prosperity or adversity, lest they
should withdraw my heart from You. I beseech You also to help me against the
temptations of Satan, to whose wicked suggestions I resolve by Your grace
never to yield myself a servant. And because my own righteousness is but as
filthy rags, I renounce all my confidence therein, and acknowledge that I am
of myself a hopeless, helpless, undone creature, without righteousness or
'And forasmuch as You have of Your bottomless mercy
offered most graciously to me, a wretched sinner, to be again my God through
Christ, if I would accept You; I call upon heaven and earth to record this
day, that I do here solemnly avouch You for the Lord my God, and with all
possible veneration, bowing the neck of my soul under the feet of Your most
sacred Majesty, I do here take You the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, for my portion and chief good, and do give myself, body and soul, to
be Your servant, promising and vowing to serve You in holiness and
righteousness all the days of my life.
'And since You have appointed the Lord Jesus Christ the
only means of coming unto You, I do here solemnly join myself in a marriage
covenant to Him.
'O Blessed Jesus, I come to You hungry and thirsty, poor
and wretched, miserable, blind and naked, a most loathsome polluted wretch,
a guilty condemned criminal, unworthy to wash the feet of the servants of my
Lord, much more to be solemnly married to the King of Glory. But such is
Your unparalleled love, I do here with all my power accept You, and do take
You for my Head and Husband, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
for all times and conditions, to love, honor and obey You before all others,
and this to the death. I embrace You in all Your offices. I renounce my own
worthiness, and do here avow You to be the Lord my Righteousness. I renounce
my own wisdom, and do here take You for my only Guide. I renounce my own
will, and take Your will for my law.
'And since You have told me that I must suffer if I will
reign, I do here covenant with You to take my lot, as it falls, with You,
and by Your grace assisting to run all hazards with You, truly supposing
that neither life nor death shall part between You and me.
'And because You have been pleased to give me Your holy
laws, as the rule of my life, and the way in which I should walk to Your
kingdom, I do here willingly put my neck under Your yoke, and set my
shoulder to Your burden; and subscribing to all Your laws as holy, just, and
good, I solemnly take them as the rule of my words, thoughts, and actions;
promising that though my flesh contradict and rebel−yet I will endeavor to
order and govern my whole life to Your direction, and will not allow myself
to neglect anything that I know to be my duty.
'Only because through the frailty of my flesh, I am
subject to many failings, I am bold humbly to request, that unintentional
shortcomings, contrary to the settled bent and resolution of my heart, shall
not make void this covenant, for so You have said.
'Now, Almighty God, Searcher of hearts, You know that I
make this covenant with You this day, without any known guile or
reservation, beseeching You, that if You espy any flaw or falsehood therein,
You would reveal it to me, and help me to do it aright.
'And now, O God the Father, whom I shall be bold from
this day forward to look upon as my God and Father, glory be to You for
finding out such a way for the recovery of undone sinners. Glory be to You,
O God the Son, who have loved me and washed me from my sins in Your own
blood, and are now become my Savior and Redeemer. Glory be to You, O God the
Holy Spirit, who by the finger of Your almighty power, has turned about my
heart from sin to God.
'O high and holy Jehovah, the Lord God Omnipotent,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are now become my covenant Friend, and I
through Your infinite grace am become Your covenant servant. Amen, so be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'
This covenant I advise you to make, not only in heart−but
in word; not only in word−but in writing; and that you would with all
possible reverence spread the writing before the Lord, as if you would
present it to Him as your Act and Deed. And when you have done this, set
your hand to it and sign it. Keep it as a memorial of the solemn
transactions that have passed between God and you, that you may have
recourse to it in doubts and temptations.
11. Take heed of delaying your conversion−but make a
speedy, an immediate surrender of your heart to God.
'I made haste, and delayed not' (Psalm 119:60). Remember
and tremble at the sad instance of the foolish virgins who did not come
until the door of mercy was shut, and of a convinced Felix who put off Paul
to another season−but we do not find that he had another season. O come in
while it is called today, lest you should be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin; lest the day of grace should be over, and the things
which belong to your peace should be hid from your eyes. Now mercy is wooing
you; now Christ is waiting to be gracious to you, and the Spirit of God is
striving with you. Now ministers are calling; now conscience is stirring;
now the market is open, and oil may be had, you have opportunity for the
buying. Now Christ is to be had for the taking. Oh! strike in with the
offers of grace. Oh! now−or never. If you make light of this offer, God may
swear in His wrath that you shall never taste of His supper (Luke 14:24).
12. Attend conscientiously upon the Word, as the means
appointed for your conversion.
Attend, I say, not customarily−but conscientiously, with
this desire, design, hope, and expectation, that you may be converted by it.
Come to every sermon you hear with this thought: 'O I hope God will now come
in; I hope this day may be the time, this may be the man by whom God will
bring me home.' When you are coming to the privileges of God's house, lift
up your heart to God thus: 'Lord, let this be the Sabbath, let this be the
season in which I may receive renewing grace. O let it be said that this day
such a one was born unto You.'
Objection. You will say, I have been a hearer of the Word
a long time−yet it has not been effectual to my conversion.
Answer. Yes; but you have not attended upon it in this
manner, as a means of your conversion, nor with this design, nor praying for
and expecting the happy effect from it.
13. Strike in with the Spirit when He begins to work upon
When He works convictions, O do not stifle them−but join
in with Him, and beg the Lord to give you saving conversion. 'Quench not the
Spirit.' [1 Thess 5:19] Do not reject Him, do not resist Him. Beware of
stifling convictions with evil company or worldly business. When you are in
anguish on account of sin and fears about your eternal state, beg of God
that you may have peace only in thoroughly renouncing all sin, loathing it
in your inmost soul, and giving your whole heart, without reserve, to
Christ. Say to Him, 'Strike home, Lord; do not leave the work half−done. Go
to the bottom of my corruption, and let out the lifeblood of my sins.' Thus
yield yourself to the working of the Spirit, and hoist your sails to His
14. Set upon the constant and diligent use of serious and
He who neglects prayer is a profane and unsanctified
sinner. He who is not constant in prayer is a hypocrite, unless the omission
be contrary to his ordinary course, under the force of some instant
temptation. One of the first things conversion appears in, is that it sets
men a−praying. Therefore set to this duty. Let not one day pass in which you
have not, morning and evening, set apart some time for solemn prayer in
secret. Also, call your family together daily to worship God with you. Woe
be unto you, if you be found among the families that call not upon God's
name (Jer 10:25). But cold and lifeless devotions will not reach halfway to
heaven. Be fervent and importunate. Importunity will carry it; without
violence the kingdom of heaven will not be taken. You must strive to enter,
and wrestle with tears and supplications as Jacob, if you would gain the
blessing. You are undone forever without grace, and therefore you must set
to it, and resolve to take no denial. That man who is fixed in this S
resolution says, 'Well, I must have grace−or I will never give over until I
have grace; I will never cease earnestly pleading, and striving with God and
my own heart, until He renews me by the power of His grace.'
15. Forsake your evil company, and forbear the occasions of sin.
You will never be turned from sin until you decline and
forego the temptations of sin. I never expect your conversion from sin,
unless you are brought to some self−denial, so as to flee the occasions. If
you will be nibbling at the bait, and playing on the brink, and tampering
with the snare−your soul will surely be taken. When God exposes men, in His
providence, unavoidably to temptation, and the occasions are such as we
cannot remove, we may expect special assistance in the use of His means; but
when we tempt God by running into danger, He will not engage to support us
when we are tempted. And, of all temptations, one of the most fatal and
pernicious is evil companions. O what hopeful beginnings have these often
stifled! O the souls, the estates, the families, the towns, that these have
ruined! How many poor sinners have been enlightened and convinced, and been
just ready to escape the snare of the devil, and have even escaped it: and
yet wicked company has pulled them back at last, and made them sevenfold
more the children of hell! In a word, I have no hopes for you, except you
shake off your evil company. Your life depends upon it: forsake this−or you
cannot live. Will you be worse than the donkey of Balaam, to run on when you
see the Lord with a drawn sword in the way? Let this sentence be written in
capitals upon your conscience, 'A companion of fools shall be destroyed!' (Prov
13:20). The Lord has spoken it, and who shall reverse it?
And will you run upon destruction when God Himself
forewarns you? If God ever changes your heart, it will appear in the change
of your company. O fear and flee the gulf by which so many thousands have
been swallowed up in perdition. It will be hard for you indeed to make your
escape. Your companions will be mocking you out of your religion, and will
study to fill you with prejudices against strictness, as ridiculous and
comfortless. They will be flattering you and alluring you; but remember the
warnings of the Holy Spirit: 'My son, if sinners entice you−do not consent.
If they say, Come with us, cast in your lot among us; walk not in the way
with them, refrain your foot from their path; avoid it, pass not by it, turn
from it, and pass away. For the way of the wicked is as darkness, they know
not at what they stumble. They lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk
privily for their own lives' (Prov 1:10−19; Prov 4:15−19).
My soul is moved within me to see how many of my hearers
and readers are likely to perish, both they and their houses, by this
wretched mischief, even the frequenting of such places and company, by which
they are drawn into sin. Once more I admonish you, as Moses did Israel,
'Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men' (Num 16:26). O flee
from them as you would those that had the plague−sores running in their
foreheads. These are the devil's pimps and decoys; and if you do not make
your escape they will draw you into perdition, and will prove your eternal
16. Set apart a day to humble your soul in secret by
fasting and prayer, to work a sense of your sins and miseries upon your
Read over a thorough exposition of the Commandments, and
write down the duties omitted, and sins committed by you against every
commandment, and so make a catalogue of your sins, and with shame and sorrow
spread them before the Lord. And if your heart be truly willing to the
terms, join yourself solemnly to the Lord in that covenant set down in
Direction 10 of this chapter, and the Lord grant you mercy in His sight.
Thus, I have told you what you must do to be saved. Will
you now obey the voice of the Lord? Will you arise and set to the work? O
man, what answer will you make, what excuse will you have, if you should
perish at last through very wilfulness, when you have known the way of life?
I do not fear your miscarrying, if your own idleness does not at last undo
you, in neglecting the use of the means that are so plainly here prescribed.
Rouse up, O sluggard, and ply your work. Be doing, and the Lord will be with
Ah! wretched man that I am! What a condition have I
brought myself into by sin! Oh! I see my heart has deceived me all this
while, in flattering me that my condition was good. I see, I see, I am but a
lost and undone man, forever undone, unless the Lord help me out of this
condition. My sins! My sins! Lord, what an unclean, polluted wretch I am!
More loathsome and odious to You than the most hateful venom or repulsive
carcass can be to me. Oh! what a hell of sin is in this heart of mine, which
I have flattered myself to be a good heart! Lord, how universally am I
corrupted, in all my parts, powers, performances! All the imaginations of my
heart are only evil continually. I am under an inability to, and aversion
from, and an enmity against anything that is good; and am prone to all that
is evil. My heart is a very sink of sin: and oh the innumerable hosts and
swarms of sinful thoughts, words and actions that have flowed from it! Oh
the load of guilt that is on my soul! My head is full, and my heart is full;
my mind and my members, they are all full of sin. Oh my sins! How do they
stare upon me! Woe is me, my creditors are upon me: every commandment takes
hold upon me, for more than ten thousand talents, yes, ten thousand times
ten thousand. How endless then is the sum of all my debts! If this whole
world were filled up from earth to heaven with paper, and all this paper
written over within and without by arithmeticians−yet, when all were added
up, it would come inconceivably short of what I owe to the least of God's
commandments. Woe unto me, for my debts are infinite, and my sins are
increased. They are wrongs to an infinite Majesty, and if he who commits
treason against an earthly king is worthy to be racked, drawn and quartered;
what have I deserved that have so often lifted up my hand against Heaven,
and have struck at the crown and dignity of the Almighty?
Oh my sins! my sins! Behold, a troop comes! Multitudes!
multitudes! there is numbering of their armies. Innumerable evils have
compassed me about; my iniquities have taken hold upon me; they have set
themselves against me. Oh! it were better to have all the regiments of hell
come against me, than to have my sins fall upon me, to the spoiling of my
soul. Lord, how am I surrounded! How many are they that rise up against me!
They have beset me behind and before; they swarm within me and without me;
they have possessed all my powers, and have fortified my unhappy soul as a
garrison, which this brood of hell mans and maintains against the God who
And they are as mighty as they are many. The sands are
many−but then they are not great: the mountains great but then they are not
many. But woe is me, my sins are as many as the sands, and as
mighty as the mountains! Their weight is greater than their number. It
were better that the rocks and the mountains should fall upon me, than the
crushing and unsupportable load of my own sins. Lord, I am heavy laden; let
mercy help−or I am gone. Unload me of this heavy guilt, this sinking load−or
I am crushed without hope, and must be pressed down to hell. If my grief
were thoroughly weighed, and my sins laid in the balance together, they
would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words are swallowed
up: they would weigh down all the rocks and the hills, and turn the balance
against all the isles of the earth. O Lord, You know my manifold
transgressions, and my mighty sins.
Ah, my soul! Alas, my glory! How are you humbled! Once
the glory of the creation, and the image of God: now, a lump of filthiness,
a coffin of rottenness, replenished with stench and loathsomeness. Oh what
work has sin made with you! You shall be termed 'Forsaken' and all the rooms
of your faculties 'Desolate', and the name that you shall be called by is 'Ichabod'−or,
'Where is the glory?' How are you come down mightily! My beauty is turned
into deformity, and my glory into shame. Lord, what a loathsome leper am I!
The ulcerous bodies of Job or Lazarus were not more offensive to the eyes
and nostrils of men, than I must needs be to the most holy God, whose eyes
cannot behold iniquity.
And what misery have my sins brought upon me! Lord, what
a state I am in! Sold under sin, cast out of God's favor, accursed from the
Lord, cursed in my body, cursed in my soul, cursed in my name, in my estate,
my relations, and all that I have. My sins are unpardoned, and my soul
within a step of death. Alas! what shall I do? Where shall I go? Which way
shall I look? God is frowning on me from above, hell gaping for me beneath,
conscience smiting me within, temptations and dangers surrounding me
without. Oh, where shall I fly? What place can hide me from Omniscience?
What power can secure me from Omnipotence?
What do you mean, O my soul, to go on thus? Are you in
league with hell? Have you made a covenant with death? Are you in love with
your misery? Is it good for you to be here? Alas, what shall I do? Shall I
go on in my sinful ways? Why then, certain damnation will be my end; and
shall I be so besotted and mad as to go and sell my soul to the flames, for
a little ale−or a little ease, for a little pleasure or gain or comfort to
my flesh? Shall I linger any longer in this wretched state? No: if I tarry
here I shall die. What then, is there no help? No hope? None, except I turn.
Why−but is there any remedy for such woeful misery? Any mercy after such
provoking iniquity? Yes: as sure as God's oath is true, I shall have pardon
and mercy yet, if I presently, sincerely, and unreservedly turn by Christ to
Why then, I thank You upon the bended knees of my soul, O
most merciful Jehovah, that Your patience has waited for me hitherto; for
had You taken me away in this state, I had perished forever. And now I adore
Your grace, and accept the offers of Your mercy, I renounce all my sins, and
resolve by Your grace to set myself against them, and to follow You in
holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.
Who am I, Lord, that I should make any claim to You−or
have any part or portion in You, who am not worthy to lick up the dust of
Your feet? Yet since You hold forth the golden scepter, I am bold to come
and touch. To despair would be to disparage Your mercy; and to stand off
when You bid me come, would be at once to undo myself and rebel against You
under pretense of humility. Therefore I bow my soul unto You, and with all
possible thankfulness accept You as mine, and give up myself to You as Your.
You shall be Sovereign over me, my King, and my God. You shall be on the
throne, and all my powers shall bow to You, they shall come and worship
before Your feet. You shall be my portion, O Lord, and I will rest in You.
You call for my heart. Oh that it were any way fit for
Your acceptance! I am unworthy, O Lord, everlastingly unworthy to be Yours.
But since You will have it so, I freely give my heart to You. Take it, it is
Yours. Oh that it were better! But Lord, I put it into Your hands−who alone
can mend it. Mold it after Your own heart; make it as You would have it,
holy, humble, heavenly, soft, tender, flexible−and write Your law upon it.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Enter in triumphantly.
Take me up for Yourself forever. I give myself to You, I come to You, as the
only way to the Father, as the only Mediator, the means ordained to bring me
to God. I have destroyed myself−but in You is my help. Save, Lord−or else I
perish. I come to You, with the rope about my neck. I am worthy to die and
to be damned. Never was the pay more due to the laborer; than death and
hell, my just wages, are due to me for my sins. But I fly to Your merits; I
trust alone to the value and virtue of Your sacrifice, and prevalence of
Your intercession. I submit to Your teaching, I make choice of Your
government. Stand open, O everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may
O You Spirit of the Most High, the Comforter and
Sanctifier of Your chosen, come in with all Your glorious train, all Your
courtly attendants−Your fruits and graces. Let me be Your habitation. I can
give You but what is Your own already; but here with the widow I give my two
mites, my soul and my body, into Your treasury, fully resigning them up to
You, to be sanctified by You, to be servants to You. They shall be Your
patients−cure their maladies. They shall be Your agents−govern You their
actions. Too long have I served the world; too long have I hearkened to
Satan; but now I renounce them all, and will be ruled by Your dictates and
directions, and guided by Your counsel.
O blessed Trinity, O glorious Unity, I deliver myself up
to You. Receive me: write Your name, O Lord, upon me, and upon all that I
have, as Your proper goods. Set Your mark upon me, upon every member of my
body, and every faculty of my soul. I have chosen Your precepts. Your law
will I lay before me; this shall be the copy which I will keep in my eye,
and study to write after. According to this rule do I resolve by Your grace
to walk: after this law shall my whole man be governed. And though I cannot
perfectly keep one of Your commandments−yet I will allow myself in the
breach of none. I know my flesh will hang back: but I resolve, in the power
of Your grace, to cleave to You and Your holy ways, whatever it cost me. I
am sure I cannot come off a loser by You: and therefore I will be content
with reproach, and difficulties and hardships here, and will deny myself,
and take up Your cross, and follow You. Lord Jesus, Your yoke is easy, Your
cross is welcome, as it is the way to You. I lay aside all hopes of a
worldly happiness. I will be content to tarry until I come to You. Let me be
poor and low, little and despised here, so I may be but admitted to live and
reign with You hereafter. Lord, You have my heart and hand to this
agreement. Be it as the laws of the Medes and Persians, never to be
reversed. To this I will stand: in this resolution, by Your grace, I will
live and die. I have sworn, and will perform it, that I will keep Your
righteous judgments. I have given my free consent, I have made my
everlasting choice. Lord Jesus, confirm the contract. Amen.
Though what has already been said of the necessity of
conversion and of the miseries of the unconverted might be sufficient to
induce any considerate mind to resolve upon a present turning to God; yet,
knowing what a piece of desperate obstinacy and untractableness the heart
of man naturally is, I have thought it necessary to add some motives to
persuade you to be reconciled to God.
'O Lord, do not fail me now, at my last attempts. If any
soul has read hitherto, and is yet untouched, Lord, fasten on him now, and
do Your work. Take him by the heart, overcome him, persuade him,
until he says, "You have prevailed, for You are stronger than I." Lord, did
not You make me a fisher of men, and have I toiled all this while and caught
nothing? Alas, that I should have spent my strength for nothing! and now I
am casting my last net. Lord Jesus, stand upon the shore, and direct how and
where I shall spread my net; and let me so with arguments, enclose the souls
I seek, that they may not be able to get out. Now, Lord, for a multitude of
souls; now for a full draught. O Lord God, remember me, I pray You, and
strengthen me this once, O God.'
Men and brethren, heaven and earth call upon you; yes,
hell itself preaches the doctrine of repentance unto you. The ministers of
the churches labor for you. The angels of heaven wait for you, for your
repenting and turning unto God. O sinner, why should devils laugh at your
destruction, and deride your misery, and sport themselves with your folly?
This will be your case, except you turn. And were it not better you should
be a joy to angels−than a laughingstock and sport for devils. Truly, if you
would but come in, the heavenly hosts would take up their anthems and sing,
'Glory to God in the highest'; the morning stars would sing together, and
all the sons of God shout for joy, and celebrate this new creation as they
did the first. Your repentance would, as it were, make a holiday in heaven,
and the glorious spirits would rejoice, in that there is a new brother added
to their society, another heir born to the Lord, and a lost son received
safe and sound. The true penitent's tears are indeed the wine that makes
glad both God and man.
If it be little that men and angels would rejoice at your
conversion, know also that God Himself would rejoice over you, even with
singing (Luke 15:9; Isa 62:5). Never did Jacob with such joy weep over the
neck of his Joseph, as your heavenly Father would rejoice over you upon your
coming to Him. Look over the story of the Prodigal Son. I think I see how
the aged father lays aside his state and forgets his years; behold, how he
runs. O the haste that mercy makes: the sinner makes not half that speed. I
think I see how his heart moves, how his compassions yearn. How
quick−sighted is love! Mercy spies him a great way off; forgets his riotous
course, unnatural rebellion, horrid unthankfulness−not a word of these−and
receives him with open arms, clasps him about his neck, kisses him; calls
for the fattened calf, the best robe, the ring, the shoes−the best cheer in
heaven's store, the best attire in heaven's wardrobe. Yes, the joy cannot be
held in his own bosom. Others must be called to participate. The friends
sympathize; but none know the joy the father has in his newborn son, whom he
has received from the dead. I think I hear the music at a distance. O the
melody of the heavenly choristers! I cannot learn the song (Rev 14:3) but I
think I overhear the theme at which all the harmonious choir with one
consent strike sweetly in: 'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he
was lost, and is found.' [Luke 15:24] I need not explain the parable
further. God is the father: Christ is the provision, His righteousness the
robe, His grace the ornaments, ministers, saints and angels, the friends and
servants, and you that read, if you will but sincerely repent and turn, the
welcome prodigal, the happy instance of this grace, the blessed subject of
this joy and love.
O rock! O adamant! What! not moved yet? Not yet resolved
to turn and to close with mercy? I will try yet once again. If one were sent
to you from the dead, would you be persuaded? Why, hear the voice from the
dead, from the damned, crying to you, that you should repent: 'I pray you
that you would send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that
he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment; if
one went to them from the dead, they will repent' (Luke 16:27−28). Hear, O
man; your predecessors in impenitence preach to you from the infernal
flames, that you should repent. O look down into the bottomless pit. Do you
see how the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever? What do you
think of those chains of darkness? Can you be content to burn? Do you see
how the worm gnaws, how the fire rages? What do you say to that gulf of
perdition? Will you take up your habitation there? O lay your ear to the
door of hell. Do you hear the curses and blasphemies, the weepings and
wailings, how they lament their follies and curse their day? How do they
roar and gnash their teeth! how deep their groans! how inconceivable their
miseries! If the shrieks of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, were so terrible when
the earth clave asunder and opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and all
that appertained to them, that all Israel fled at the cry of them (Num
16:33−34), O how fearful would the cry be, if God would take off the
covering from the mouth of hell, and let the cry of the damned ascend in all
its terror among the children of men! And of their moans and miseries this
is the piercing, killing emphasis and burden, 'Forever! forever!'
As God lives−who made your soul, you are but a few hours
away from all this−unless you be converted.
O! I am even lost and swallowed up in the abundance of
those arguments that I might suggest. If there be any point of wisdom in all
the world, it is to repent and come in. If there be anything righteous,
anything reasonable−this is it. If there be anything that may be called
madness and folly, and anything that may be counted sottish, absurd,
brutish, and unreasonable, it is this, to go on in your unconverted state.
Let me beg of you, as you would not willingly destroy yourself, sit down and
weigh, besides what has been said, these following motives, and let
conscience say if it be not most reasonable that you should repent and turn.
1. The God who made you, most graciously invites you.
His most sweet and merciful nature invites you. O the
kindness of God, His boundless compassion, His tender mercies! As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways above our ways, and His
thoughts above our thoughts. 'He is full of compassion, and gracious,
longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy' (Psalm 86:15). This is a great
argument to persuade sinners to come. 'Return to the Lord your God, for he
is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with
kindness and is eager not to punish you.' [Joel 2:13]
If there were no hope of mercy, it would be no wonder
that rebels should stand out; but never had subjects such a gracious prince,
such pity, patience, and clemency to deal with, as you have. 'Who is a God
like unto You, that pardons iniquity?' (Mic 7:18). O sinners, see what a God
you have to deal with. If you will but turn, 'He will have compassion on
you; He will subdue your iniquities, and cast all your sins into the depths
of the sea!' 'Return unto me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return unto
you' (Mal 3:7).
Sinners do not fail in that they have too high thoughts
of God's mercies−but in that they overlook His justice−or they promise
themselves mercy outside of God's way. His mercies are beyond all
imagination; great mercies, manifold mercies (Neh 9:19), tender mercies,
sure mercies, everlasting mercies−and all is yours, if you will but turn.
Are you willing to come in? The Lord has laid aside His terror and erected a
throne of grace. He holds forth the golden scepter: touch and live! Would a
merciful man slay his enemy when prostrate at his feet, acknowledging his
wrong, begging pardon, and offering to enter with him into a covenant of
peace? Much less will the merciful God. Study His name (Exod 34:7), 'Keeping
mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.' Also
read experience, Neh 9:17.
God's soul−encouraging calls and promises invite you. Ah,
what an earnest suitor is mercy to you! How lovingly, how instantly, it
calls after you! How earnestly it woos you! 'Return O backsliding Israel,
says the Lord, and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you; for I am
merciful, says the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever; only acknowledge
your iniquity. Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord; return, and I
will heal your backslidings. You have played the harlot with many lovers;
yet return unto me, says the Lord' (Jer 3:12−13). 'As I live, says the Lord
God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked−but that he turn from his
way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house
of Israel?' (Ezek 33:11). 'If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he
has committed, and keeps all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and
right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All the transgressions that
he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness
that he has done, he shall live [Ezek 18:21−22]. ... Repent, and turn you
from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away
from you all your transgressions, and make you a new heart and a new spirit;
for why will you die, O Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him
who dies, says the Lord God, therefore turn yourselves, and live!' (Ezek
O melting, gracious words: the voice of God, and not of a
man! This is not the manner of men, for the offended sovereign to sue to the
offending, traitorous rebel. O how does mercy follow you, and plead with
you! Is not your heart broken yet? O that today you would hear His voice!
2. The doors of heaven are thrown open to you.
The everlasting gates are set wide open for you, and an
abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven is administered to you.
Christ now addresses you, and calls upon you to arise and
take possession of this good land. View the glory of the other world, as set
forth in the map of the gospel. Get up into the Pisgah of the promises, and
lift up your eyes northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward, and
see the good land that is beyond Jordan, and that goodly mountain. Behold
the Paradise of God, watered with the streams of glory. Arise and walk
through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for the
land which you see, the Lord will give it to you forever, if you will but
return. Let me say to you, as Paul to Agrippa, 'Do you believe the
prophets?' [Acts 26:27] If you believe indeed, view what glorious things are
spoken of the city of God, and know that all this is here offered in the
name of God to you. As truly as God is true, it shall be forever yours, if
you will but thoroughly turn.
Behold the city of pure transparent gold, whose
foundations are garnished with all manner of precious stones, whose gates
are pearls, whose light is glory, whose temple is God. Do you believe this?
If you do, are you not beside yourself, that will not take possession when
the gates are thrown open to you, and you are bidden to enter? O you sons of
folly, will you embrace the ash−heap and refuse the kingdom? Behold, the
Lord takes you up into the mountain, shows you the kingdom of heaven and all
the glory thereof, and tells you, 'All this I will give you, if you will
fall down and worship me; if you will submit to mercy, accept my Son, and
serve me in righteousness and holiness.' 'O fools and slow of heart to
believe!' [Luke 24:25] Will you seek and serve the world, and neglect
eternal glory? What! not enter into paradise when the flaming sword, which
was once set to keep you out, is now used to drive you in? But you will say
I am uncharitable to think you infidels and unbelievers. What, then, shall I
think of you? Either you are desperate unbelievers that do not believe it;
or that you are beside yourselves, that you know and believe the excellence
and eternity of this glory, and yet do so fearfully neglect it.
Do but attend to what is offered you: a blessed kingdom,
a kingdom of glory, a kingdom of righteousness, a kingdom of peace, and an
everlasting kingdom. Here you shall dwell, here you shall reign forever, and
the Lord shall seat you on a throne of glory, and with His own hand shall
set the royal diadem upon your head, and give you a crown−not of thorns, for
there shall be no sinning nor suffering there: not of gold, for this shall
be viler than the dirt in that day; but a crown of life, a crown of
righteousness, a crown of glory, yes, you shall put on glory as a robe, and
shall shine like the sun in the firmament of your Father.
Look now on your worthless flesh. This flesh, which is
mere dust and ashes, shall be brighter than the stars. In short, you shall
be made like unto the angels of God and behold His face in righteousness.
Look now and tell me, do you not yet believe? If not, conscience must
pronounce you an infidel; for it is the very word of God that I speak.
But if you say you believe, let me next know your
resolution. Will you embrace this for your happiness? Will you forgo your
sinful gains, your forbidden pleasures? Will you trample on the world's
esteem, and stop your ears to its flatteries, and wrest yourself out of its
embraces? Will you be content to take up with reproach and poverty, if they
lie in the way to heaven, and follow the Lord with humble self−denial, in a
mortified and flesh−displeasing life? If so, all is yours−and that forever!
And is not the offer a fair one? Is it not just that he
should be damned, who will go on and perish, when all this may be had by
taking it? Will you not take God at His word? Will you not let go your hold
of the world, and lay hold on eternal life? If not, let conscience tell you
whether you are not beside yourself, that you should neglect so happy a
choice, by which you might be made happy forever.
3. God will give you unspeakable privileges in this life.
Though the fullness of your blessedness shall be reserved
until hereafter−yet God will give you no little things in hand. He will
redeem you from your thraldom. He will pluck you from the paw of the lion.
The serpent shall bruise your heel−but you shall bruise his head. He shall
deliver you from this present evil world. Prosperity shall not destroy you;
adversity shall not separate Him and you. He will redeem you from the power
of the grave, and make the king of terrors to be a messenger of peace to
you. He will take out the curse from the cross, and make affliction the
refining−pot to purify the metal, the fan to blow off the chaff, the
medicine to cure the mind. He will save you from the arrest of the law, and
turn the curse into a blessing to you. He has the keys of hell and of death,
and shuts and no man opens, and He will shut its mouth, as once He did the
lions', that you shall not be hurt of the second death.
Besides, He will not only save from misery−but install
you into unspeakable prerogatives. He will bestow Himself upon you; He will
be a Friend and a Father unto you. He will be a Sun and a Shield to you. In
a word, He will be a God to you. And what more can be said? What may you
expect that God should do for you, and be to you? That He will be, that He
will do. She who marries a prince expects he should do for her like a
prince−that she may live in suitable state, and have an answerable dowry. He
who has a king for his father or a friend, expects he should do for him like
a king. Alas, the kings and monarchs of the earth, so much above you, are
but like the painted butterflies among the rest of their kind−or the fair
colored palmerworm among the rest of the worms, if compared with God. As He
infinitely exceeds the glory and power of His glittering dust, so He will,
beyond all proportion, exceed in doing for His favorites whatever princes
can do for theirs. He will give you grace and glory, and withhold no good
thing from you. He will take you for His sons and daughters, and make you
heirs of His promises, and establish His everlasting covenant with you. He
will justify you from all that law, conscience and Satan can charge upon
you. He will give you free access into His presence, and accept your person,
and receive your prayers. He will abide in you, and hold a constant and
friendly communion with you. His ear shall be open, His door open, His store
open, at all times to you. His blessing shall rest upon you, and He will
make your enemies serve you, and work out all things for good unto you.
4. The terms of mercy are brought as low as possible to
God has stooped as low to sinners as with honor He can.
He will not be the author of sin, nor stain the glory of His holiness; and
how could He come lower than He has, unless He should do this?
God does not impose anything unreasonable or impossible,
as a condition of life, upon you. Two things were necessary to be done,
according to the tenor of the first covenant. 1. That we should fully
satisfy the demands of justice for past offences. 2. That we should perform
personally, perfectly, and perpetually, the whole law for the time to come.
By our sins we render salvation through either of these ways impossible. But
behold God's gracious provision in both. He is content to take of the
Surety, and He of His own providing too, what He might have exacted from
you. 'All things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus
Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation: namely, that God
was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their
trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation'
(2 Cor 5:18−19). He declares Himself to have received a ransom, and that He
expects nothing but that you should accept His Son, and He shall be
righteousness and redemption to you. If you come in His Christ, and set your
heart to please Him, making this your chief concern, He will graciously
O consider the condescension of your God! Let me say to
you, as Naaman's servant to him, 'My father, if the prophet had bid you do
some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather when he says
to you, Wash and be clean!' [2 Kings 5:13] If God demanded some great, some
severe and rigorous thing of you, to escape eternal damnation, would you not
have done it? Suppose it had been to spend all your days in sorrow in some
howling wilderness−or pine with famine, would you not have thankfully
accepted eternal redemption, though these had been the conditions? Nay,
farther, if God had told you that you should burn in the fire for millions
of ages−or be so long tormented in hell, would you not have accepted it?
Alas, all these are not so much as one grain of sand in the glass of
eternity. If your offended Creator should have held you but one year upon
the rack, and then bid you come and forsake your sins, accept Christ, and
serve him a few years in self−denial or lie in this case forever and ever;
do you think you would have hesitated at the offer, and disputed the terms,
and have been unresolved whether to accept the proposal? O sinner, return
and live; why should you die when life is to be had for the taking, when
mercy entreats you to be saved? Could you say, 'Lord, I knew you, that you
were a hard man', [Matt 25:24] even then you would have no excuse; but when
the God of Heaven has stooped so low, and condescended so far, if still you
stand off, who shall plead for you?
Objection: Notwithstanding all the advantages of the
new covenant, I am unable to repent and believe, and so comply with its
Answer: These you may perform by God's grace
enabling; but let the next consideration serve for a fuller answer.
5. God offers all needed grace to enable you.
'I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded' (Prov
1:24). What though you are plunged into the ditch of that misery from which
you can never get out? Christ offers to help you out; He reaches out His
hand to you; and if you perish, it is for refusing His help. 'Behold, I
stand at the door and knock; if any man open to me, I will come in.' (Rev
3:20). What though you are poor, and wretched, and blind, and naked? Christ
offers a cure for your blindness, a covering for your nakedness, riches for
your poverty. He offers you His righteousness, His grace: 'I counsel you to
buy of me gold, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be
clothed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.' [Rev 3:18]
Do you say, 'The condition is impossible; for I have nothing with which to
buy?' You must know that this buying is 'without money and without price.' [Isa
55:1] This buying is by begging and seeking with your whole heart. God
commands you to know Him, and to fear Him. Do you say, 'Yes−but my mind is
blinded, and my heart is hardened from His fear?' I answer that God offers
to enlighten your mind, and to teach you His fear. So that now, if men live
in ignorance and estrangement from the Lord, it is because they will not
understand, and do not desire the knowledge of His ways. 'If you cry after
knowledge, if you Seek her as silver, then shall you understand the fear of
the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' (Prov 2:3−5). Is not this a fair
offer? 'Turn at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you' (Prov
1:23). Though of yourselves you can do nothing−yet you may do all through
His Spirit enabling you, and He offers assistance to you. God bids you 'wash
and be made clean' [Isa 1:16]. You say you are unable, as much as the
leopard to wash out his spots. Yes−but the Lord offers to cleanse you; so
that if you are filthy still, it is through your own wilfulness: 'I have
purged you, and you were not purged' (Ezek 24:13). 'O Jerusalem, will you
not be made clean: when shall it once be?' (Jer 13:27). God invites you to
be made clean, and entreats you to yield to Him. O accept His offers, and
let Him do for you, and in you, what you cannot do for yourselves!
And now, beloved, let me know your mind. What do you
intend to do? Will you go on and die−or will you turn and lay hold on
eternal life? How long will you linger in Sodom? How long will you halt
between two opinions? Have you not yet resolved whether Christ or Barabbas,
whether bliss or torment, whether this vain and wretched world−or the
paradise of God, is the better choice? Is it a disputable case whether the
polluted waters of this world are better than all the streams of Eden; or
whether the vile pool of sin is to be preferred before the water of life,
clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb? Can
the world really do that for you, which Christ can? Will it stand by you to
eternity? Will pleasures, lands, titles, and treasures go with you after
death? If not, had you not need look after something that will? What do you
mean to stand wavering? Shall I leave you at last, like Agrippa, only almost
persuaded? You are forever lost if left here; as good be not at all−as not
altogether a Christian. How long will you rest in idle wishes and fruitless
purposes? When will you come to a fixed, firm, and full resolve? Do you not
see how Satan cheats you by tempting you to delay? How long has he drawn you
on in the way of perdition!
Well, do not put me off with a dilatory answer; tell me
not later. I must have your immediate consent. If you are not now resolved,
while the Lord is treating with you and inviting you, much less likely are
you to be later, when these impressions are worn off, and you are hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin.
Will you give me your hand? Will you set open the door
and give the Lord Jesus the full and ready possession? Will you put your
name unto His covenant? What do you resolve upon? If you still delay, my
labor is lost, and all is likely to come to nothing. Come, cast in your lot;
make your choice. 'Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation;
[2 Cor 6:2] today, if you will hear His voice.' [Heb 3:7] Why should not this
be the day from which you are able to date your happiness? Why should you
venture a day longer in this dangerous and dreadful condition? What if God
should this night require your soul? O that you might know in this your day
the things that belong to your peace, before they be hid from your eyes!
This is your day−and it is but a day. Others have had their day−and have
received their doom! And now are you brought upon the stage of this world,
here to act your part for your eternity. Remember, if you do not make a wise
choice now, you are undone forever. What your present choice is−such must be
your eternal condition.
And is it true indeed? Are life and death at your choice?
Why, then, what hinders but that you should be happy? Nothing does or can
hinder but your own wilful neglect or refusal. It was the saying of the
eunuch to Philip, 'See, here is water, what hinders me to be baptized?'
[Acts 8:36] So I may say to you, 'See, here is Christ, here is mercy,
pardon, life; what hinders you from being pardoned and saved?' One of the
martyrs, as he was praying at the stake, had his pardon set by him in a box,
which indeed he rightly refused, because upon unworthy terms; but here the
terms are most honorable and easy. O sinner, will you perish with your
pardon by you? Do but henceforth give your consent to Christ, to renounce
your sins, deny yourself, take up the yoke and the cross−and you win the
day. Christ is yours; pardon, peace, life, blessedness, are all yours. And
is not this an offer worth embracing? Why should you hesitate or doubtfully
dispute about the case? Is it not past controversy whether God is better
than sin−and glory than vanity? Why should you forsake your own mercy−and
sin against your own life? When will you shake off your sloth, and lay by
your excuses? Boast not of tomorrow, you know not where you may lodge this
Now the Holy Spirit is striving with you. He will not
always strive. Have you not felt your heart warmed by the Word, and been
almost persuaded to leave off your sins and come to Christ? Have you not
felt some motions in your mind, in which you have been warned of your
danger, and told what your careless course would end in? It may be you are
like young Samuel who, when the Lord called once and again, knew not the
voice of the Lord−but these motions are the offers, and callings, and
strivings of the Spirit. O take advantage of the tide, and know the day of
Now the Lord Jesus stretches wide His arms to receive
you. He beseeches you by us. How movingly, how meltingly, how
compassionately He calls. The church is put into a sudden ecstasy at the
sound of His voice, 'it is the voice of my beloved!' [Song 2:8]. O will you
turn a deaf ear to His voice? Is it not the voice that breaks the cedars,
and makes the mountains to skip like a calf; that shakes the wilderness, and
divides the flames of fire? It is not Sinai's thunder−but a soft and still
voice. It is not the voice of Mount Ebal, a voice of cursing and terror−but
the voice of Mount Gerizim, the voice of blessing and glad tidings of good
things. It is not the voice of the trumpet nor the noise of war−but a
message of peace from the King of peace. I may say to you, O sinner, as
Martha to her sister, 'The Master has come, and he is calling for you.'
[John 11:28] Now then, with Mary, arise quickly and come unto Him.
How sweet are His invitations! He cries in the open
concourse, 'If any man thirsts−let him come unto me and drink' (John 7:37).
How bountiful is He! He excludes none. 'Whoever will, let him take
the water of life freely' (Rev 22:17). 'Come, eat of my bread, and drink of
the wine that I have mingled. Forsake the foolish and live' (Prov 9:5−6).
'Come unto me, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and you shall find
rest to your souls' (Matt 11:28−29). 'Him who comes to me, I will never cast
out' (John 6:37).
How does He bemoan the obstinate refuser! 'O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children, as a hen gathers
her chickens under her wings−and you would not!' (Matt 23:37). 'Behold me,
behold me: I have stretched out my hands all the day to a rebellious people'
(Isa 65:1−2). O be persuaded now at last to throw yourselves into the arms
of His love.
Behold! The Lord Jesus has thrown open the prison
doors−and now He comes to you by His ministers, and beseeches you to come
out. If it were from a palace or paradise that Christ did call you, it were
no wonder that you were unwilling; and yet how easily was Adam beguiled from
it; but it is from your prison, from your chains, from the dungeon, from the
darkness, that He calls you, and yet will you not come? He calls you unto
liberty, and yet will you not hearken? His yoke is easy, His laws are
liberty, His service is freedom, and whatever prejudice you may have against
His ways, if God may be believed, you shall find them all pleasure and
peace, and shall taste sweetness and joy unutterable, and take infinite
delight and felicity in them (Prov 3:17; 1 Pet 1:8; Psalm 119:103,111,165).
Beloved, I am reluctant to leave you. I cannot tell how
to give you up. I am now ready to close−but I would see a covenant made
between Christ and you before I end. What! shall I leave you at last as I
found you? Have you read thus far, and not yet resolved to abandon all your
sins and to close with Jesus Christ? Alas, what shall I say? What shall I
do? Will you throw away all my importunity? Have I run in vain? Have I used
so many arguments, and spent so much time to persuade you−and must I sit
down at last in disappointment? But it is a small matter that you disregard
me; you put a slight upon the God who made you; you reject the compassion
and beseechings of a Savior, and will be found resisters of the Holy
Spirit−if you will not now be prevailed upon to repent and be converted.
Well, though I have called you long, and you have
refused, I shall yet this once more lift up my voice like a trumpet, and cry
from the highest places of the city before I conclude, with the miserable
exclamation, 'All is over!' Once more I shall call after heedless sinners,
that, if it be possible, I may awaken them; 'O earth, earth, earth, hear the
word of the Lord' (Jer 22:29). Unless you are resolved to die, lend your
ears to the last calls of mercy. Behold, in the name of God, I make open
proclamation to you, 'Hearken unto me, O children; hear instruction and be
wise, and refuse it not' (Prov 8:32−33).
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and
you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without
money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor
on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and
your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear
me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David." (Isa 55:1−3).
Ho, everyone who is sick of any manner of disease or
torment−or is possessed with an evil spirit, whether of pride, fury, lust−or
covetousness−come to the Physician! Bring your sick! Lo, here is He who
heals all manner of sicknesses, and all manner of diseases, among the people
Ho, everyone who is in distress, gather yourselves unto
Christ, and He will become a Captain over you. He will be your protection
from the arrests of the law; He will save you from the hand of justice.
Behold, He is an open sanctuary to you; He is a known refuge. Away with your
sins and come in unto Him, lest the avenger of blood seize you, lest
devouring wrath overtake you.
Ho, every blind and ignorant sinner, come and buy eye
salve, that you may see. Away with your excuses; you are forever lost if you
continue in this state. But accept Christ for your Prophet, and He will be a
light unto you. Cry unto Him for knowledge, study His Word, take pains about
religion, humble yourself before God, and He will teach you His way, and
make you wise unto salvation. But if you will not follow Him−but sit down
because you have but one talent, He will condemn you for a wicked and
slothful servant (Matt 25:24−26).
Ho, every profane sinner, come in and live! Return unto
the Lord, and He will have mercy on you; be entreated. O return, come! You
who have filled your mouth with oaths and execrations; all manner of sins
and blasphemies shall be forgiven you, if you will but thoroughly turn unto
Christ and come in. O unclean sinner, put away your whoredoms out of your
sight, and your adulteries from between your breasts, and give yourself unto
Christ, as a vessel of holiness, alone for His use; and then, 'though your
sins be as scarlet−they shall be white as snow; though they be red like
crimson−they shall be as wool' (Luke 7:47; Isa 1:18; Hos 2:2).
Hear, O you drunkards, how long will you be drunk? Put
away your wine. Though you have rolled in the filthiness of your sin, give
yourselves unto Christ, to live soberly, righteously, and godly; embrace His
righteousness; accept His government; and though you have been vile, He will
wash you (Rev 1:5).
Hear, O you loose companions, whose delight is in vain
and wicked society, to sport away your time in carnal mirth; come in at
Wisdom's call, and choose her and her ways, and you shall live (Prov 9:5−6).
Hear, O you scorners, hear the word of the Lord. Though
you make a mock at godliness and its professors, though you have made a
scorn of Christ and His ways−yet even to you does He call, to gather you
under the wings of His mercy. In a word, though you should be found among
the worst of that black roll−yet upon your thorough conversion you shall be
washed, you shall be sanctified, you shall be justified in the name of the
Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor 6:10−11).
Ho, every formal professor, you who are but lukewarm and
resting in the form of godliness. Give over your halting; be a true
Christian; be zealous and repent; and then, though you have been an offence
to Christ−you shall be the joy of His heart (Rev 3:16−20).
And now bear witness that mercy has been offered you. 'I
call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I have set before
you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that you
may live' (Deut 30:19). I can only entreat you and warn you. I cannot
otherwise compel you to be happy; if I could, I would. What answer will you
send me with to my Master? Let me speak to you as Abraham's servant to
Nahor's family, 'And now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master,
tell me.' O for such a happy answer as Rebecca gave them: 'And they called
Rebecca, and said unto her, Will you go with this man? and she said, I will
go' (Gen 24:49−58). O that I had this answer from you!
Why should I, who agonize for your salvation−be your
accuser? Why should the passionate pleadings of mercy be turned into horrid
aggravations of your obstinacy and additions to your misery? Judge in
yourselves; do you not think their condemnation will be doubly dreadful−who
shall still go on in their sins, after all endeavors to recall them?
Doubtless it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, yes, for Sodom and
Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for you! (Matt 11:22−24).
Beloved, if you have any pity for your perishing souls,
close with the present offers of mercy. If the God that made you have any
authority with you, obey His command and come in. If you are not the
despisers of grace, and would not shut the doors of mercy against
yourselves, repent and be converted. Let not heaven stand open for you in
vain. Let not the Lord Jesus open His stores and bid you buy without money
and without price in vain. Let not His Spirit and His ministers strive with
you in vain, and leave you now at last unpersuaded, lest the sentence go
forth against you, 'The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with
fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out. They
are called rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them' (Jer 6:29−30).
'Father of spirits, take the heart in hand that is too
hard for my weakness. Do not end−though I have done. A word from Your
effectual power will do the work. O You who has the key of David, who opens
and no man shuts−open this heart, as You did Lydia's, and let the King of
Glory enter in, and make this soul Your captive. Let not the tempter harden
him in delays. Let him not stir from this place, nor take his eyes from
these lines, until he resolves to forego his sins, and accept life on Your
self−denying terms. In Your Name, O Lord God, did I go forth to these
labors; in Your name do I close them. Let not all the time they have cost be
lost hours; let not all the thoughts of the heart, and all the pains that
have been about them be lost labor. Lord, put Your hand upon the heart of
this reader, and send Your Spirit, as once You did Philip to join himself to
the chariot of the eunuch while he was reading the Word. And though I should
never know it while I live−yet I beseech You, O Lord God, let it be found at
the last day that some souls are converted by these labors; and let some be
able to stand forth and say that by these persuasions they were won unto
You. Amen, Amen.' Let him who reads say, Amen.