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apprehensions of God, as if he were all mercy, his patience in forbearing the execution of such as des serve double destruction, the subtil reasonings of Satan, the world and deceitful lusts, either beget a persuasion that sin and wrath may be separate, or else a suspicion that it is not certain that they are so linked together, as the word says, and ministers aver. But the Spirit of God presents the two in their dependence and connection, in such a light to the sinner's mind, that he cannot but believe that there is no parting them. (3.) The Spirit of God discovers to the sinner how deeply he is concerned in sin, and consequently in that wo that is linked to it. He not only lets him fee* the toad crawling at a distance, but upon his very clothes. He not only tells him that a certain man has sinned, as Nathan did in the parable; but applies the parable, and says, Thou art the man. He not only lets the finner see hell and sin linked together; but also lets him see the one end of the chain, sin, fastened to himself: and all this he dircovers with such clearness, as obliges the finner to notice it.
2. We premise this, That there are different degrees of conviction, and that both as to its clearnels, extent and continuance. Upon some persons, fome faint rays break in, and open their eyes fomewhat above nature's power, letting them sce a little more clearly. Upon others there come in full beams, discovering all distinctly, like the Sun shining in his strength. Again, some discover only a few; others get under their view many fins: the light that shines upon some, is only like a flash of lightening, that fills the house with surprising light, and is presently gone again; or like the warm blinks of the Sun before a shower, which
ly in this is him
2 his very
Enercy,h are presently gone, and the sky filled with dark Auch as clouds. So various are convictions, as to their de. lonings grees of clearness, extent and continuance. These ther bey me convictions which are only faint, and reach only to = separa a few fins, we are not here speaking of, when we rtain 17 fpeak of a finner that is throughly awakened or E fays, 24 convinced. tresents by
3. The issues and consequences of conviction 7, in loco are no less various. These fainter discoveries of annot du fin, which many meet with in the dispensation (3.) ?) of the word, or by awakening providences, usu
ally carry people the length of some faint desires after deliverance; or if they rise higher, it feldon goes further than good resolutions, and there they
die. The great flashes of light, which dart into Irtain ma the minds of some, very often miscarry, and turn ; but 7 to'nothing. It is much with the persons who fall man. By under them, as it is with a man that is awakened inked to by a flash of lightening that darts into his bed :
the noise of a thunder-clap that comes along with it, may make the man start up before he is weil awaked; and the light unexpectedly discovering many things, occasions a great confusion in his mind; but presently the noise is over, and the light gone, and then the natural temper of his body, the softness and ease of the bed he lies in, do
invite him afresh to sleep; and though by the light clienle! that came in, he might see the room full of enecome la mies, he is easily persuaded that all was but illusithe Sun ons of fancy, and therefore he lays himself down a
gain,and falls fastasleep. Thus it is with many: they hear the thunderings of the law in the preaching of the word, and fometimes the Spirit of God lets a beam of light into the heart with them, that fills all the soul with fear, discovering the deadly foes that are lodged and secretly entertained there; this
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makes sinners start up, and it may be cry out; they are awakened out of their security, and raise themselves out of their beds. Now, one would think these persons in a great forwardness, and verk ry well ; but ere ever ye are aware, they are fast: alleep again, They return with the dog to the vomit, and with the fow that was washed, to the wallow ing in the mire, they fall in with their own sins. Why, what is the matter? No degree of convi: Etion can change the heart; and convictions of short continuance do rather fright than foundly a waken: therefore when the natural inclination of the heart presses on to a little more sleep, and Satan joining issue with this frame of the carnal mind, contributes his part, and endeavours to lay the soul asleep again, it cannot choose but fall asleep; for the fath of light is gone, and the voice of the minister, or providence, by the noise of these solicitations, are banished his mind : and here ends the religion of a great many, who at communions, and some other occasions, appear to be something..
4. When we speak of a person's being foundly and deeply convinced, and of abiding convictions, we do not mean that there is any one degree of conviction that all come to, who are saved; nor do we mean, that there is any degree of conviction which is always followed with faith: for these who are inost deeply convinced, may one way or other miscarry and be lost. They may fall into despair, or they may fall in with false remedies; or they may wear out from under convictions, as fome have done, and then turn openly profane. Nor do we intend that every one who believes, before he do so, must ly a long time under convietion ; for we see the contrary in the jaylor, who
have caktual retion, it is gone
fently believes and rejoices, and so was very föohr out from under his convictions. In fine, we only fpeak of deep and sound conviction, in opposition to these fainter ones, which seldom raise the perfons that have them above the luggard's desires, or some ineffectual resolutions: and when we speak of abiding conviction, it is in opposition to these flashes, which are presently gone, and have no other influences than to make half awakened finners start up, and cry out of their fears, but ! presently their fears are hushed, and they ly down and fall as fast asleep as ever. . . . 1
5. Our doctrine must only be understood of those who are yet in time; for damned finners are indeed sufficiently awakened, yet cannot be said to put this enquiry, because they are abundantly con vinced, that salvation is not to be expected. And the same is to be said as to these who have split upon the rock of despair, who, though they be not yet in hell, do judge notwithstanding their escape impossible. Our doctrine is not to be understood of these persons.
6. We say not in our doctrine, That conviètions, however deep, or distinct, or abiding, issue in salvation, but in a serious concern about it. A person may be concerned, and put enquiries about that which he may never attain. He may ask, What shall I do to be saved, who shall never be saved. The young man in the gospel asked, What must I do to inherit eternal life? yet for any thing the scripture makes appear, he did never inherit it. These things being laid down for clearing the doctrine, we now proceed to the .
II. Thing proposed, which was to enquire, what that salvation is, which awakened sinners are concerned about, and which they feek afrer, Sal
yation, as every one knows, fignifies a delivery from some one thing or other that is looked upon as dangerous, evil and hurtful. None are capable of falvation, save these who are either under fome such evil, or who are in danger of it; and then they may be said to be saved, when they are freed from it, or from the danger of it; when they are delivered from distresses, or when their safety is provided for. This is the plain import of the word. But as it is used by convinced sinners, it takes in more: it not only respects deliverance from evil, but also the enjoyment of God and of good. It is frequently lo used in scripture: falvation there is put, not only for deliverance from hell, but for the title to heaven, and hence believers are » stiled heirs of salvation, Heb. 1. 14. Where the apostle, speaking of the angels says, Are tbey not all ministering Spirits fent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation? In one word, this falvation that awakened sinners seek after, takes in freedom from sin, and a title to life ; and hence the question in the text takes in other two.. :* ^ 1. What shall I do that I may get pardon of
fin? The finner sees that it is sin that draws hell upon him; therefore unless this be pardoned, he despairs utterly of freedom from hell and wrach. The one he fees impossible to be obtained, unless he can first get the other. As an draws on hell; fo pardon is linked to falvation from hell, or rather salvation from wrath is linked to pardon. This we see plainly enough in the carriage of these convinced sinners, in that vi of Micah and 6. Wherewith soall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? mall I come before him with burnt-offerings and calves of a year old?