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I cannot now enter upon the consideration of many other pretences, whereby finners shelter themselves from convictions: only I wish ye may rivet upon your hearts three truths, which will help to preserve you from laying weight upon thein. (1.) Be persuaded that there are but few that will be saved, Christ has said fo, and who dare give him the lie? (2.) Believe it, they who shall be faved, shall not be saved in an easy way. The righteous are scarcely saved, 1 Pet. iv. 18.(3.) Ye are to endeavour a solid conviction, that there is no salvation for you but in the gospel way, Acts jv. 12. Understand and believe these three truths, and this will be a mean to preserve you from a reliance upon things that cannot profit. And this for the first word we designed, to such of you as are not convinced of fin and misery. I shall pass this, and in the
Second place, to such of you as are not yet a. wakened, as are not yet convinced of your lot and undone ftate, I say, ye have reason to fear that ye shall never be awakened and convinced. There is ground to fear, that Christ has said to you, seep on: and if it be fo, then the thunderings of the law, the still and calm voice of the gospel, the most sweet and charming providences, yea, the most terrible threatenings of providence thall never be able to open your eyes, or make you consider and lay to heart the things that belong to your peace; but ye shall seep on in your security, till the wrath of God come upon you to the uttermost
. But it may pollibly be, that some whose case this is, shall say or think, or at least carry as if they thought there was no danger of this at all. But I assure fuch, whatever their thoughts may be, there is great hazard of this; for,
(1.) God has taken much pains upon you already, to bring you to a fenfe of your fad state and condition; but he has not dealt so with others.. He has not dealt so with many of the heathen nations; he has not dealt so, with many who have been taken away suddenly after their refusal of the first offer of the gospel; he has not dealt so with not a few others who have had the gospel light quickly taken from them upon their refusal of it. As for the way of God's dealing with the heathens, there is no place to doubt of it; and that the Lord has not dealt so with, or been at so great expence either of time or means with others, is plain in your own experience. Tell me, O sinners, Have
not many been snatched away by death, from the . advantage and use of the ordinances, since the
Lord began to deal with you in order to your conviction? Sure, few of you can deny it; and that the Lord did allow others a shorter time of the ordinances, is no less plain from manifold evidences, both in fcripture, and in the experience of the church in all ages. Ye have had more time than Capernaum and many other places where Christ preached, in the days of his personal ministry upon earth.
(2.) Ye have reason to fear this terrible issue, if ye consider the way that the Lord has taken with you. He has not rested in a general discovery of ei. ther your
sin or danger; but has dealt particularly with every one of you, as it were by name and sirname: he has spoken particularly to you, by his word, and by his providences. In his name we have dealt particularly with young and old of you: and by his providences he has been no less particular. What person, what family has not, either in themselves, or in their relations, felt the stroke
of God's hand? which tells all upon whom it lights, that they have sinned, and come sort of the glory of God. I believe, there is scarce one in this house who has not smarted this way. So that scarce is there one amongst us who has not withstood particular dealings of God for his convicti. on; and this is a sufficient ground to fear that we may never be convinced; since all the ways that God is wont to take, are either general, when he deals with a person in con mon, by a proposal of such things as lay open the sin and misery of all in general; or particular, when he makes a special application of the general charge, either by his word, or by his providence, and says, as Nathan did, Thou art the man: and what can be done more for your conviction in the way of means?
(3.) He has not only used these ways and means mentioned, but has waited long upon you in the use of the means, even from the morning of your day till now. Many, if not all of you, have had precept upon precept, and line upon line, here a little and there a little. Christ has risen up early, and has dealt with you, by sending one messenger after another, one preaching after another, one providence after another, and yet ye are not convinced and awakened. This suggests great grounds to fear the issue, if it be considered,
(4.) That the Spirit of God, though he may long strive with finners, yet will not always strive with them,Gen. vi 4. And the Lord said, Myspirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; as if the Lord had said, I have long dealt with these men, by an awakening ministry, by awakening dispensations, bythe inward motions of my spirit, by checks of their own conscience,to convince them of their sin and danger,and to reformn them; but now
I find all means ineffectual, they are entirely corrupt; therefore, I will convince them no more: I will spare them till they fill up their cup, and be fatned against the day of Naughter; but will never more convince them,or endeavour their conviction. And who can tell, but the Lord has this day pronounced the like sentence against the unconvinced sinners of Ceres, or some of them? Yonder is a people with whom I have long striven, by the word, by providences, by motions of my spirit, and by secret checks of conscience, and yet they are not awakened, are not convinced : therefore I will strive no longer with them; I will either take them away with a deluge of wrath, as I did the old world; or I will take my ordinances from them, as I have done from other churches; or I will give my servants a commission to make their cars heavy, their hearts fat, and their eyes blind; and I will pronounce the barren fig tree's curse against them. And that all this is not a mere empty bugbear, set up on purpose to fright you, will appear evident, if it be confi
(5.) That this is the stated measure, the ordi-a nary way, that the Lord has laid down, for
proceeding with persons in that cafe; as ye will see if ye turn over to that terrible scripture, Heb. vi. 7, 8. The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receivet! blessing from God; but that which beateth thorns and bri. ers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned. Here is the stated and ordi: nary rule of God's procedure with finners, who live under a gospel-dispensation; and that both with such as improve and with such as misimprove
it: the way that God takes with the first fort, the improvers of it, is this; he gives them the means, his word and ordinances, which, like the rain, come down from heaven, and have a fructifying efficacy, when they fall upon good ground; and, upon their bringing forth good fruit, called fruit that is meet for the use of him who dresseth it, he blesseth them. On the other hand, we have the carriage of God toward the rest, and their carriage toward him, plainly enough represented unto us; which I shall set before you in a few particulars. First, God gives them, as well as others, frequent showers; he gives them fometimes the means, and that in great plenty. Secondly, The generality of them use the means; both the one fort and the other is supposed to drink in the rain; for there is no doubt that these who openly reject the counsel of God against themselves, as the Pharisees and Scribes did of old, Luke vii. 30. shall be burnt up with unquenchable fire, Thirdly, Tho' this fort of persons we are now speaking of, drink in the rain, as did the other; yet herein are they differenced, they bring not forth fruit meet for the use of him by whom they were thus watered; but on the contrary, they bring forth briers and thorns. That is plainly, the discoveries of sin did not con: vince them, the discoveries of danger did not awaken them, the influences of grace did not quicken them, but rather made them more stupid, more dead and unconcerned. Fourthly, Upon this account the Lord rejects them; that is, he either gives over dealing with them entirely, or at least withdraws his blessing from the means. Fifthly, During the time of his forbearance, they are nigh unto cursing; there is nothing to keep the curse of God from them; it is fast upon its approach to