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Having thus fhortly discussed what belongs to the explication of this truth, we proceed now to make some practical improvement of it. And a. mong many uses that might be made of it, we fhall only make one, and that is of trial.
Is it so, that a soundly convinced finner will lay salvation to heart above all things else? Then here is a touchstone whereby ye may try whether or not ye be indeed convinced of fin, and whether foundly or not; and in the name of God we obtest you to put this to trial; for,
1. Unless ye know whether ye be convinced of sin or not, ye cannot know whether ye have got good of all that we have discoursed to you former: ly. This we know, that ye are either bettered or worsted by it; for as the rain cometh down, and the frow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give feed to the power, and bread to the eater: fo mall my word be, faith the Lord, that goeth forth out of my mouth: it mall not return unto me viid, but it hall accomplish that which I please, and it (hall proper in the thing whereto I send it, Ifa. lv. 10, 11. We have spent many sermons on this design of conviction; and now ye are concerned to try, and we are concerned to try what has been the fruit of them. If ye be not yet convinced of sin, then ye have lost the advantage of all that has been said on this head.
2. Try this fairly, we obtest you; for if ye be not convinced, ye are like to lose the advantage of all that is to be said from the text we are now entering upon. We shall, if the Lord will, from this fcripture hold forth and make offer of Christ Jesus our Lord, as the only Saviour of lost sinners: and if ye be not convinced foundly of sin,
ye are like to lose the advantage of such 'offers; for none will welcome or entertain them, save only such as are convinced of in..
3. Try, for the Lord's fake, whether ye be convinced of fin or not;, for not a few wofully deceive themselves in this matter. They take that general and unconcerned acknowlegement of sin, which every one is led to by custom, education, or some such way, for that solid conviction which is necessary in order to our cordial acceptance of the gospel: and this deceit is of most dangerous consequence, because it lies near the foundation; and a crack there must of necessity be fatal and ruining. ,
That ye may be at a point in this matter, we fhall again run over the several parts of that description we gave of this concern about salvation, which we would now have you to try yourselves
But before we enter upon this trial, there is one sort of persons we would set by, as not concerned in it; and that is, such as are openly profane, drunkards, swearers, liars, whoremongers, thieves, and the like. It were gross folly to make a trial of such who have their mark upon their foreheads. These inonsters are so far from being concerned about filvation, that they seem concerned to make their own damnation sure; in as far as they take the plainest, the surest and straightest course to ruine their own souls. As their damnation lingers not, fo it will be just, because they run upon a feen evil. They deierve scarce compassion, who can tell that he who doth such things is guilty of death; and yer not only do, but take pleasure in them that do them. To endeavour to make a discovery of 1 such persons, by an application of narrow and
searching marks, were as if we did busy ourselves in separating huge stones from corn by a fine live, when it were much more easily done with the hand. These we set aside in the entry, because their fins go before them into judgment. But belides these notorious sinners, there are others who are no less strangers to folid conviction than they, ' upon whom nevertheless it is something more hard to prove it. And therefore for the discovery of such, we shall now proceed to deal a little more clofely with your consciences; and since your concernment in this matter is so great, as we just now did shew it to be, we obtest you to be serious in this matter, which is, paft all peradventure, to turn either to your eternal advantage, or to your eternal disadvantage. · Ye all do profess yourselves convinced of fin. But now if it be so, I demand of you in God's name, Have ye ever to this day been concerned about salvation, or laid it to heart above all things? If ye have not, then to this day ye have never been foundly convinced of sin, whatever your pretences are: and so ye are found liars in this matter, and deceivers of your own souls. If ye say ye have been, or are seriously concerned about salvation, then, in
1. I pose your consciences, and I demand ye may pose them with this question, Can ye be satisfied with other things while ye are at an utter uncertainty about falvation ? If so, if ye can be well pleased, and have rest in your mind, and live contentedly at an uncertainty about salvation, provided ye be in health of body, and your worldly, concerns thrive, then we say, ye have never yet been concerned about salvation, and therefore are
yet strangers to that found conviction, without which none will be content to accept of Christ.
2. I pose you in God's name upon it, What thoughts do ye spend upon this subject? Persons who can spend whole days and nights, and weeks, and never have a serious thought about falvation, they certainly are not laying it to heart: but that
I may bring this second question yet a little closer : to the conscience, I shall break it into one or two
others; and, (1.) I pofe you on it, What thoughts de ye choose? Persons inay sometimes be opprest with thoughts that they entertain the uttermostaversion to; or they may be forced from the thoughts they would forever desire to dwell upon. A man that is, throughly awakened may by the impetuous violence of temptation, or the inevitable occasions of life, be obliged, as it were, fometimes to intermit thoughts of falvation, and entertain thoughts about other things: but when he has leave to make choice, then he will choose to think of salvation. Now, if you choose ordinarily to think of other things than of salvation, then there is no such force upon you, it discovers you unconcerned about salvation, and consequently Atrangers to that folid conviction, that issues always in such a serious concern as we have been speaking of. (2.) 'I further pose you, whether or not do the thoughts about salvation frequently press in upon you, when ye are busied about the ordinary occasions of life, when employed in your ordinary occupations, when ye are working, or conversing? If such thoughts are never wont to
visit you even then, it is a sad sign that ye do not · lay falvation seriously to heart; for certainly that
which the mind is much concerned about, will frequently drive the thoughts that way. (3.) I
put this one question more to you, What thoughts are these on which your own time is fpent? All your time, ye may think, is your own time: but there is a certain portion of time which may be called so upon a peculiar account; such are these seasons, wherein we are neither engaged in business nor in diversion, as when we walk alone in the fields, when we separate ourselves in order to reft at night, when we are undressing ourselves, or when we are waking upon our beds in the night time, or before we engage in company in the morning. Now, it is in reference to such feasons as these, that we enquire into your thoughts. If thefe seasons be not e nployed in thoughts about salvation, it is a sad sign that ye are not in earnest about it indeed.
3. I put this question to you, What are your desires : Man is a desiring creature: he is sensible of felf-infufficiency, and therefore is ever defiring and longing after fome one thing or other that is fuited to his need, or at least which he thinks to be fo. Now, what is it that ye desire? Is it falvation? Is it Chrift? It may be, ye never have a defire after salvation, but when ye are laid upon a fick bed, and fall under fears of death; and even then, where there is one desire for eternal falvati. tion, there are many for freedom from death, for fome longer life. Dying David speaking of that covenant whereby salvation was ensured to him, could call it all his desire; although my house be not Po with God; yet he hath made with me an ever. lasting covenant ordered in all things and fure;
for this is all my salvation and all my desire, ala though he make it not to grow, 2 Sam, xxiii. 5a If your souls do not frequently go out in desires after God, after salvation; it is a shrewd evidence