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feeks after direction and help from them. No doubt he had heard of them, what the possessed damsel, in the 17th verse of this chapter, cries out, that they were the fervants of the living God, who made it their work to shew to men the way of fal vation; and this makes him address himself to them, as the readiest expedient, the best means to get rid of his fears, and to be solved of the im portant scruple that now lay fo near his heart.
7. Not only will this concern drive to the use of means, but it will stir up to diligence in the use of them. It will fire the soul with such activity, as will carry it over that natural sluggishness that is in the heart of man, as the natural and genuine fruit of the depraved nature. The unconcerned man, the man that is half awakened, will say with the fluggard, There is a lion in the way, and I shall be pain in the streets. He will have a thoufand trifing difficulties that will retard him, and keep him back; but when one lays salvation to heart, he will soon get over all these, and fall close to the diligent use of means, in spite of all difficulties. Thus it was with thejaylor. He sprang in, and came trembling, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be faved? He wanted not his own grounds to fear the success of his attempt. What, might he think, will these men, whom I used so hardly but the night before, deal so kindly by me, as to help me in this miserable pinch ? And will that God, whom I have provoked to be my enemy, tender me any relief? But wrath pursued him so close at the heels, that he durst not stay off on any of these accounts, but hazards the issue be what it will. An awakened sinner is ever brought to the lepers resolution, 2 Kings vii. 3, 4. He lees an inevitable neceflity of dying if he fit still in his
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present condition, or if he join himself to his old friends : and therefore he will rather choose to venture all upon the mercy of God and his fer· vants, whom he takes for his enemies; as know.
ing that there he has a peradventure for life, whereas he has not that same any where else..
8. This concern will discover itself, by putting the soul in an active and waiting posture, ready to receive any injunction, and to comply with it without delay. One that comes thus to be con• cerned about salvation, will not stand to dispute the terms proposed; but will greedily wait for, and readily accept of them, if practicable, if poffible. Thus we see it is with the poor man in our text. He comes not to make but accept terms. Sirs, says he, what must I do to be saved ? as if he had said, I am resolved to scruple nothing ye fhall enjoin me; tell me but what I shall do, and here am I, ready to accept of any proposal that'ye shall in God's name make unto me.
Thus we have unfolded unto you the nature of this concern which a solidly convinced sinner will have about falvation, and that from the text. I shall now proceed, .
IV. To enquire why it is that a solidly awak. ened sinner does thus lay salvation to heart above all things. An account of this matter we con. ceive may be given in two or three propositions. · 1. A strong desire of self-preservation is inlaid in the mind of man, and so closely woven in with his very frame and make, that there is no getting rid of it. Man may as soon cease to be, as cease to desire his own preservation. No man yet hated his own flesh, but cherisheth it, says the apostle, Eph. v. 29. If that hold in the laxer sense, when a man's near relation is called his own Aesh, it must hold much more, when it is taken in the most strict and close sense, for a man's self.
2. The necessary consequence of this desire of felf-preservation, is an utter abhorrence unto every thing that is contrary to nature, or that ap: pears destructive of it; and every thing appears more or less terrible, as it is more or less hurtful to nature. These things which threaten us with utter ruin, cannot but fill the mind with terrible horror. Hence it is that death is called the king of terrors; because it threatens nature, not with some alterations of less importance, but with entire dissolution. Death of all things is the most opposite to nature; and every other thing is more or less terrible, as it has more or less of death in it.
3. An awakened soul, a solidly convinced fin. ner, sees, by that light that God has let into his foul, the wrath of God, the second death, ready to lay hold upon him, and ruin him eternally ; therefore cannot but have the greatest aversion possible to it. What will put a man to flight, if not the sight of inevitable death behind him? Then, if ever, will a man flee, when he sees him. self brought to that lamentable pinch, that he 'must either fiee or die. . . 4. Hence it inevitably follows, that such a man
who sees himself in danger of utter ruin, in the case he is in, will, nay, of necessity must, lay himfelf out to the utmost, or be concerned above all, for salvation from threatened ruin or misery. That principle of self-preservation, and that abhorrence of what is hurtful to natu!e, which are the spring of all a man's actions, cannot but carry the whole man, and all the powers of the man, to its afsift. ance, when it fees that the whole is endangered.
Having thus shortly 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 fin 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 bertered or worsted by it; for as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give feed to the fower, and bread to the eater : lo fall my 'word be, faith the Lord, that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it fall accomplis that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it, Isa. lv. 10, 11. We have spent many sermons on this design of conviction; and now.ye are concerned to try, and we are concern. ed 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 scripture hold forth and make offer of Christ Jefus our Lord, as the only Saviour of loft fine ners: and if ye be not convinced soundly of fin,
ye are like to lose the advantage of such offers; for none will welcome or entertain them, save only such as are convinced of sin. :
3. Try, for the Lord's sake, whether ye be convinced of sin or not; for not a few wofully deceive themselves in this matter. They take that general and unconcerned acknowlegement of fin, which every one is led to by custom, education, or fome 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 shall 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 by.
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, drunk.. ards, 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 monsters are so far from being concerned about falvation, 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, so it will be just, because they run upon a feen e vil. They deserve scarce compassion, who can tell that he who doth fuch things is guilty of death; and yet not only do, but take pleasure in them that do them. To endeavour to make a discovery of fuch persons, by an application of narrow and