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Use of Exhortation

Need you any motives to quicken you up to this important duty?

Consideration 1. “This is that which is not only commanded by God, but that whereunto all the commands of God tend.” A perfect conformity of heart and life to God, is the sum and substance of all the commands both of the Old and the New Testament. As the harlot was for the dividing of the child, so Satan is for dividing the heart. He would have our love and affections shared between Christ and our lusts; for 213he knows that Christ reckons we love him not ht all, unless we love him above all. But God will have all or none: “My son, give me thy heart. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Look into the Scripture, and see what that is upon which you only stand, and you shall find that God hath fixed it upon those great duties which alone tend to the perfection of your state as Christians. God hath fixed your only upon believing; only believe. God hath fixed your only upon obedience: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” “Only let your conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ.” So that your only is fixed by. God upon these two great duties of believing and obeying; both which tend to the perfection of your state as Christians. Now, shall God command, and shall not we obey? Can there be a higher motive to duty than the authority of the great God, whose will is the eternal rule of righteousness? “O let us fear God, and keep his commandments,” for this is the whole duty of man!

Consideration 2. “The Lord Christ is a Saviour throughout, a perfect and complete Mediator.” He hath not shed his blood by halves, nor 214satisfied the justice of God, and redeemed sinners by halves. No, but he went through with his undertaking; he bore all our sins, and shed all his blood: he died to the utmost, satisfied the justice of God to the utmost, redeemed sinners to the utmost, and now that he is in heaven he intercedeth to the utmost, and is able to save to the utmost.

It is observed, that our Lord Christ, when he was upon the earth, in the days of his flesh, he wrought no half-cures; but whomsoever they brought to him for healing, he healed them throughout; “They brought unto him all that were diseased, and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment, and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”

O what an excellent physician is here! none like him! he cureth infallibly, suddenly, and perfectly!

He cureth infallibly. None ever came to him for healing that went without it; he never practised upon any that miscarried under his hand.

He cureth suddenly. No sooner is his garment touched, but his patient is healed. The leper, Matt. viii. 3, is no sooner touched, but immediately cured; the two blind men, Matt. xx. 34, are no 215sooner touched, but their eyes were immediately opened.

He cureth perfectly: “As many as were touched, were made perfectly whole.”

Now all this was to show what a perfect and complete Saviour Jesus Christ would be to all sinners that would come to him. They should. find healing in his blood, virtue in his righteousness, and pardon for all their sins, whatever they were. Look! as Christ healed all the diseases of all that came to him, when he was on earth, so he, pardons all the sins, and healeth all the wounds of all those souls that come to him, now he is in heaven. He is a Saviour throughout; and shall not we be saints throughout? Shall he be altogether a Redeemer; and shall not we be altogether believers? O, what a shame is this!

Consideration 3. “There is enough in religion to engage us to be altogether Christians;” and that whether we respect profit or comfort, for grace brings both.

First, “Religion is a gainful thing;” and this is a compelling motive that becomes effectual upon all. Gaia is the god whom the world worships. What will not men, do, what will they not suffer for gain? What journeys do men 216take by land, what voyages by sea, through hot and cold, through fair and foul, through storm and shine, through day and night, and all for gain! Now there is no calling so gainful as this of religion; it is the most profitable employment we can take up. “Godliness is profitable unto all things.” It is a great revenue. If it be closely followed, it brings in the greatest income. Indeed, some men are religious for the world’s sake; such shall be sure not to gain: but they who are religious for religion’s sake, shall be sure not to lose, if heaven and earth can recompense them; for “godliness hath the promise both of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

Ah, who would not be a Christian, when the gain of godliness is so great! Many gain much in their worldly calling, but the profit which the true believer hath from one hour’s communion with God in Christ, weigheth down all the gain of the world. “Cursed be that man who counts all the gain of the world worth one hour’s communion with Jesus Christ,” saith that noble Marquis, Galeacius Caracciola. It is nowhere said in Scripture, “Happy is the man that findeth silver, and the man that getteth fine gold.” These are of no weight in the balance of the sanctuary; but 217it is said, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding; for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” By wisdom and understanding here, we are to understand the grace of Christ; and so the spirit of God interpreteth it. “Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Now of all merchants, he that trades in this wisdom and understanding will prove the richest man: one grain of godliness out weigheth all the gold of Ophir. There is no riches like being rich in grace: for,

1. This is the most necessary riches; other things are not so. Silver and gold are not so: we may be. happy without them. There is but one thing necessary, and that is the grace of Jesus Christ in the heart. Have this, and have all; want this, and want all.

2. It is the most substantial gain. The things of this world are more shadow than substance. Pleasure, honor, and profit comprehend all things in this world, and therefore are the carnal man’s trinity. The apostle John calls them “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;” this, (saith he,) is all that is in the world: and truly, if this be all, all is nothing 218for what is pleasure but a dream and conceit? what is honor, but fancy and opinion? and what is profit, but a thing of naught? “Why wilt thou set thy eyes upon that which is not?” The things of the world have in them no sound substance, though foolish, carnal men call them substance. But now grace is a substantial good; so our Lord Christ calls it: “That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance,” to inherit that which is. Grace is a reality other things are but show and fancy.

3. Godliness is the safest gain. The gain of worldly things is always with difficulty, but seldom with safety. The soul is often hazarded in the over-eager pursuit of worldly things; nay, thousands do pawn, and lose, and damn their precious souls eternally, for a little silver and gold, which are but the guts and garbage of the earth: “and what is a man profited, to gain the whole world, if he lose his own soul?” But the gain of godliness is ever with safety to the soul; nay, the soul is lost and undone without it, and not saved but by the attainment of it. A soul without grace is in a lost and perishing condition: the hazard of eternity is never over with us until the grace of Christ Jesus be sought by us, and wrought in us.

4. “Godliness is the surest profit:” as it is safe, so it is sure. Men make great ventures for the world, but all runs upon uncertainty. Many venture much, and wait long, and yet find no return but disappointment: they sow much, and yet reap nothing. But the gain of godliness is sure; “to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

And as the things of this world are uncertain in the getting, so they are uncertain in the keeping. If men do not undo us, moths may; if robbery doth not, rust may; if rust doth not, fire may; to which all earthly treasures are incident, as our Lord Christ teaches us, Matt. vi. 19. Solomon limneth the world with wings: “Riches make themselves wings, and fly as an eagle towards heaven.” A man may be rich as Dives today, and yet poor as Lazarus to-morrow. O how uncertain are all worldly things! But now the true treasure of grace is in the heart, that can never be lost. It is out of the reach both of rut and robber. “He that gets the world, gets a good he can never keep; but he that gets grace, gets a good he shall never lose.”

5. “The profit of godliness lieth not only in this world, but in the world to come.” All other profit lieth in this world only: riches and honor, 220&c., are called this world’s goods, but the riches of godliness is chiefly in the other world’s goods; in the enjoyment of God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, among saints and angels in glory. Lo, this is the gain of godliness; “such honor have all his saints.”

6. “The gain of godliness is a durable and eternal gain.” All this world’s goods are perishing; perishing pleasures, perishing honors, perishing profits, and perishing comforts. “Riches are not forever,” saith Job: “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” Gregory upon these words observes, that earthly treasures are treasures of snow. What pains do children take to scrape and roll the snow together to make a snow-ball, which is no sooner done but the heat of the sun dissolves it, and it comes to nothing. Why, the treasures of worldly men are but treasures of snow. When death and judgment come, they melt away, and come to nothing. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

You see here the great advantage of godliness; so that if we look at profit, we shall find enough in religion to engage us to be altogether Christians. Or,

2. “If we look at comfort,” religion is the 221most comfortable profession. There are no comforts to be compared to the comforts of grace and godliness.

1. “Worldly comfort is only outward;” it is but skin-deep: “In the midst of laughter the heart is sorrowful.” But now the comfort that flows from godliness is an inward comfort, a spiritual joy; therefore it is called gladness of heart. “Thou hast put gladness in my heart:” other joy smooths the brow, but this fills the breast.

2. “Worldly comfort hath a nether spring.” The spring of worldly comfort is in the creature, in some earthly enjoyment; and, therefore, the comfort of worldly men must needs be mixed and muddy: “an unclean fountain cannot send forth pure water.” But spiritual comfort hath an upper spring: the comfort that accompanies godliness, flows from the manifestations of the love of God in Christ, from the workings of the blessed Spirit in the heart, which is first a counsellor, and then a comforter: and therefore the comforts of the saints must needs be pure and unmixed comforts; for they flow from a pure spring.

3. “Worldly comfort is very fading and transitory.” “The triumphing of the wicked is but short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.” Solomon compares it to the “crackling 222of thorns under a pot,” which is but a blaze, and soon out: so is the comfort of carnal hearts. But, now the comfort of godliness is a durable and abiding comfort; “your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you.” The comfort of godliness is lasting, and everlasting it abides by us in life, in death, and after death.

First, “It abides by us in life:” grace and peace go together. Godliness naturally brings forth comfort and peace: “The effect of righteousness shall be peace.” It is said of the primitive Christians, “They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” Every duty done in uprightness and sincerity, reflects some comfort upon the soul. “In keeping the` commands, there is great reward;” not only for keeping of them, but in keeping of them. As every flower, so every duty carries sweetness and refreshing with it.

Objection. “But who more dejected and disconsolate than saints and believers? whose lives are more uncomfortable? whose mouths are more filled with complaints, than theirs? If a condition of godliness and Christianity be a condition of so much comfort, then why are they thus?”

Solution. That the people of God are oftentimes without comfort, I grant: “They may walk 223in the dark, and have no light.” But this is none of the products of godliness: grace brings forth no such fruit as this; there is a threefold rise and spring of it:—Sin within, Desertion and Temptation without.

1. Sin within. The saints of God are not all spirit, and no flesh; all grace, and no sin. They are made up of contrary principles: there is light and darkness in the same mind; sin and grace in the same will; carnal and spiritual in the same affections; there is “the flesh lusting against the Spirit.” In all these, and too oft the Lord knows, is the believer led away captive by these warring lusts. So was the holy apostle himself: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin;” —and this was that which broke his spiritual peace, and filled his soul with trouble and complaints, as you see: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” So that it is sin that interrupts the peace of God’s people. Indwelling lust, stirring and breaking forth, must needs cause trouble and grief in the soul of a believer; for it is as natural for sin to bring forth trouble, as it is for grace 224to bring forth peace. Every sin contracts a new guilt upon the soul, and guilt provokes God; and where there is a sense of guilt contracted, and God provoked, there can be no peace, no quiet in that soul, till faith procures fresh sprinklings of the blood of Jesus Christ upon the conscience.

2. “Another spring of the believer’s trouble and disconsolateness of spirit, is the desertions of God;” and this follows upon the former. God doth sometimes disappear, and hide himself from his people: “Verily, thou art a God that hideth thyself.” But the cause of God’s hiding, is the believer’s sinning: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” In heaven, where there is no sinning, there is no losing the light of God’s countenance for a moment; and if saints here could serve God without corruption, they should enjoy God without desertion; but this cannot be. While we are in this state, remaining lusts will stir and break forth, and then God will hide his face, and this must needs be trouble: “Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”

The light of God’s countenance, shining upon the soul, is the Christian’s heaven on this side 225heaven; and therefore it is no wonder if the biding of his face be looked upon by the soul, as one of the days of hell. So it was by David: “The sorrows of death compassed me, the pains of hell gat hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow.”

3. “A third spring of that trouble and complaint that brims the banks of the Christian’s spirit, is the temptations of Satan.” He is the great enemy of saints, and he envieth the quiet and comfort that their hearts are filled with, when his conscience is brimmed with horror and terror: and, therefore, though he knows that he cannot destroy their peace, yet he labors to disturb their peace. As the blessed Spirit of God is first a sanctifier, and then a comforter, working grace in order to peace; so this cursed spirit of hell is first a tempter, and then a troubler; first persuading to act sin, and then accusing for sin; and this is his constant practice upon the spirits of God’s people. He cannot endure that they should live in the light of God’s countenance, when himself is doomed to eternal, intolerable darkness.

And thus you see whence it is that the people of God are often under trouble and complaint. 226All arises from these three springs of Sin within, Desertions and Temptations without.

If the saints could serve God without sinning, and enjoy God without withdrawing, and resist Satan without yielding, they might enjoy peace and comfort without sorrowing. This must be endeavored constantly here, but it will never be attained fully but in heaven. But yet so far as grace is the prevailing principle in the heart, and so far as the power of godliness is exercised in this life; so far the condition of a child of God is a condition of peace; for it is an undoubted truth, that the fruit of righteousness shall be peace. But suppose the people of God experience little of this comfort in this life, yet,

2. “They find it in the day of death.” Grace and holiness will minister unto us then, and that ministration will be peace. A believer hath a twofold spring of comfort, each one emptying itself into his soul in a dying season; one is from above him, the other is from within him. The spring that runs comfort from above him, is the blood of Christ sprinkled upon the conscience; the spring that runs comfort from within him, is the sincerity of his heart in God’s service. When we lie upon a death-bed, and can reflect upon our principles and performances in the service 227of God, and there find uprightness and sincerity of heart running through all, this must needs be comfort. It was so to Hezekiah: “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; and have done that which is good in thy sight.”

Nothing maketh a death-bed so uneasy and hard, as a life spent in the service of sin and lust; nothing makes a death-bed so soft and sweet, as a life spent in the service of God and Christ. Or put the case, the people of God should not meet with this comfort then; yet,

3. “They shall be sure to find it after death.” If time bring none of this fruit to ripeness, yet eternity shall; grace in time will be glory in eternity; holiness now will be happiness then: “Whatever it is a man soweth in this world, that he shall be sure to reap in the next world: he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” When sin shall end in sorrow and misery, holiness shall end. in joy and glory: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Whoever shareth in the grace of Christ in this world, shall share in the joys of Christ in the world to come; and that joy “is joy unspeakable, 228and full of glory.” Lo, here is the fruit of godliness. Say now, if there be not enough in religion, whether we respect profit or comfort, to engage us to be Christians throughout?

Consideration 4. “What an entire resignation wicked men make of themselves to their lusts! and shall not we do so to the Lord Christ?” They give up themselves without reserve to the pleasures of sin; and shall we have our reserves in the service of God? They are altogether sinners; and shall not we be altogether saints? They run, and faint not, in the service of their lusts; and shall we faint, and not run, in the service of Christ? Shall the servants of corruption have their ears bored to the door-posts of sin, in token of an entire and perpetual service, and shall we not give up ourselves to the Lord Christ, to be his forever? Shall others make a “covenant with hell and death,” and shall not we “join ourselves to God in an everlasting covenant that cannot be forgotten?” Shall they take more pains to damn their souls, than we do to save ours? and make more speed to a place of vengeance, than we do to a crown of righteousness? Which do you judge best, to be saved everlastingly, or to perish everlastingly? Which do you count the best master, God or the devil? 229Christ or your lusts? I know you will determine it on Christ’s side. O then! when others serve their lusts with all their hearts, do you serve Christ with all your hearts. If the hearts of the sons of men be fully set in them to do evil, then much more let the hearts of the sons of God be fully set in them to do good.

Consideration 5. “If ye be not altogether Christians, ye will never be able to appear with comfort before God, nor to stand in the judgment of the last and great day.” For this sad dilemma will silence every hypocrite: if my commands were not holy, just, and good, why didst thou own them? If they were holy, just, and good, why dost thou not obey them? If Jesus Christ was not worth the having, why didst thou profess him? If he was, then why didst thou not cleave to him, and close with him? If my ordinances were not appointed to convert and save souls, why didst thou sit under them, and rest in the performance of them? Or if they were, then why didst thou not submit to the power of them? If religion be not good, why dost thou profess it? If it be good, why dost thou not practise it? “Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having on a wedding-garment?” If it was not a wedding-feast, why didst thou come at the invitation? 230If it was, then why didst thou come without a wedding-garment?

I would but ask a hypocritical professor of the Gospel, what he will answer in that day? Verily you deprive yourselves of all possibility of apology in “the day of the righteous judgment of God.” It is said of the man that had no wedding-garment on, that when Christ came and examined him, he was speechless. He that is graceless in a day of grace, will be speechless in a day of judgment: professing Christ without a heart to close with Christ, will leave our souls inexcusable, and make our damnation unavoidable and more intolerable.

These are the motives to enforce the duty; and O that God would set them home upon your hearts and consciences, that you might not dare to rest a moment longer in a half-work, or in being Christians within a little, but that you might be altogether Christians!

Question. But you will say possibly, “How shall I do? What means shall I use, that I may attain to a thorough work in my heart; that I may be no longer almost, but altogether a Christian?”

Answer. Now I shall lay down three rules of direction instead of many, to further and help you 231in this important duty, and so leave this work to God’s blessing.

Direction 1. “Break off all false peace of conscience;” this is the devil’s bond to hold the soul from seeking after Christ. As there is the peace of God so there is the peace of Satan; but they are easily known, for they are as contrary as heaven and hell, as light and darkness. The peace of God, flows from a work of grace in the soul, and is the peace of a regenerate state; but the peace of Satan is the peace of an unregenerate state, it is the peace of death; in the grave Job saith there is peace—“There the wicked cease from troubling;” so a soul dead in sin is full of peace, the wicked one troubleth him not. The peace of God in the soul is a peace flowing from removal of guilt, by justifying grace—“Being justified by faith in his blood, we have peace with God;” but the peace of Satan in the soul arises and is maintained by a stupidity of spirit, and insensibility of guilt upon the conscience. “The peace of God is a peace from sin that fortifies the heart against it: The peace of God that passeth all men’s understanding, shall, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The more of this peace there is in the soul, the more is the soul fortified against sin; but the peace of Satan 232is peace in sin: “The strong man armed keeps the house, and there is all at peace.” The saint’s peace is a peace with God, but not with sin; the sinner’s peace is a peace with sin, but not with God: and this is a peace better broken than kept. It is a false, a dangerous, an undoing peace. My brethren, death and judgment will break all peace of conscience, but not that which is wrought by Christ in the soul, and is the fruit of the “blood of sprinkling:” “when he gives quietness, who can make trouble?” Now that peace that death will break, why should you keep? Who would be fond of that quietness which the flames of hell will burn in sunder? and yet how many travel to hell through the fool’s paradise of a false peace? O break off this peace! for we can have no peace with God in Christ, whilst this peace remains in our hearts. The Lord Christ gives no peace to them that will not seek it; and that man will never seek it that does not see his need of it; and he that is at peace in his lusts sees no need of the peace of Christ. The sinner must be wounded for sin, and troubled under it, before Christ will heal his wounds, and give him peace from it.

Direction 2. Labor after a thorough work of conviction; every conviction will not do it. The 233almost Christian hath his convictions as well as the true Christian, or else he had never gone so far; but they are not sound and right convictions, or else he had gone farther: God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitterness of sin, before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy. The plough of conviction must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the precious seed of grace and comfort there, that so it may have depth of earth to grow in. This is the constant method of God: first to show man his sin, then his Saviour; first his danger, then his Redeemer; first his wound, then his cure; first his own vileness, then Christ’s righteousness. We must be brought to cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” to mourn for Him whom we have pierced, and then he sets open for us a fountain to wash in for sin, and for uncleanness. That is a notable place, Job xxxiii. 27, 28. “He looked upon men; and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” The sinner must see the unprofitableness of his unrighteousness, before he profit by Christ’s righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the fiery serpents, and then the brazen serpent is set up. Ephraim is 234first thoroughly convinced, and then God’s bowels of mercy worked toward him. Thus it was with Paul, Manasseh, the jailer, &c. So that this is the unchangeable method of God in working grace, to begin with conviction of sin. O therefore labor for thorough conviction; and there are three things we should especially be convinced of.

First, Be convinced of the evil of sin; the filthy and heinous nature of it. This is the greatest evil in the world; it wrongs God, it wounds Christ, it grieves the Holy Spirit, it ruineth a precious soul; all other evils are not to be named with this. My brethren, though to do sin is the worst work, yet to see sin is the best sight; for sin discovered in its vileness, makes Christ to be desired in his fulness. But above all, labor to be convinced of the mischief of an unsound heart; what an abhorrence it is to God, what certain ruin it brings upon the soul. O think often upon the hypocrite’s hell. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

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Secondly, be convinced of the misery and desperate danger of a natural condition; for till we see the plague of our hearts and the Misery of our state by nature, we shall never be brought off ourselves to seek help in another.

Thirdly, Be convinced of the utter insufficiency and inability of anything below Christ Jesus to minister relief to thy soul in this case. All things besides Jesus Christ are “physicians of no value;” duties, performances, prayers, tears, self-righteousness, avail nothing in this case; they make us like the troops of Tema, to return “ashamed at our disappointment” from such “failing brooks.”

Alas! it is an infinite righteousness that must satisfy for us, for it is an infinite God that is offended by us. If ever thy sin be pardoned, it is infinite mercy that must pardon it; if ever thou be reconciled to God, it is infinite merit must do it: if ever thy heart be changed, and thy state renewed, it is infinite power must effect it; and if ever thy soul escape hell, and be saved at last, it is infinite grace must save it.

In these three things right and sound conviction lieth: and wherever the Spirit of God worketh these thorough convictions, it is in order to a true and sound conversion: for by this means the 236soul is brought under a right qualification for the receiving of Christ.

You must know; that a sinner can never come to Christ; for he is dead in sin, in enmity against Christ, an enemy to God, and the grace of God; but there are certain qualifications that come between the soul’s dead state in sin, and the work of conversion and closing with Christ, whereby the soul is put into a capacity of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ; for no man is brought immediately out of his dead state and made to believe in Jesus Christ; there are some qualifications coming in between. Now sound convictions are the right qualifications for the sinner’s receiving Christ; “for he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;” that is, such as see themselves sinners, and thereby in a lost condition. So Luke exemplifies it: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” “He is anointed, and sent to bind up the brokenhearted,” to comfort all that mourn.

O therefore, if you would be sound Christians, get sound convictions; ask those that are believers indeed, and they will tell you, had it not been for their convictions, they had never sought after Christ for sanctification and salvation; they will tell you they had perished, if they had not perished; 237they had been in eternal bondage, but for their spiritual bondage; had they not been lost as to Christ.

Direction 3. Never rest in convictions till they end in conversion. This is that wherein most men miscarry: they rest in their convictions, and take them for conversion, as if sin seen were therefore forgiven, as if a sight of the want of grace were the truth of the work of grace.

That is a notable place in Hosea xiii. 13, “Ephraim is an unwise son, for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.” The place of the breaking forth of children is the womb; as the child comes out of the womb, so is conversion born out of the womb of conviction. Now when the child sticks between the womb and the world, it is dangerous, it hazards the life both of mother and child; so when a sinner rests in conviction, and goes no farther, but sticks “in the place of the breaking forth of children;” this is very dangerous, and hazards the life of the soul.

You that are at any time under convictions, O take heed of resting in them, do not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children: though it is true, that conviction is the first step to conversion, yet it is not conversion; a man 238 may carry his convictions along with him into hell.

What is that which troubleth poor creatures, when they come to die, but this—I have not improved my convictions; at such a time I was convinced of sin, but yet I went on in sin in the face of my convictions; in such a sermon I was convinced of such a duty, but I slighted the conviction; I was convinced of my want of Christ, and of the readiness of Christ to pardon and save: but, alas! I followed not the conviction.

My brethren, remember this; slighted convictions are the worst death bed companions. There are two things especially, which above all others, make a death bed very uncomfortable:

1. “Purposes and promises not performed.

2. Convictions slighted and not improved?”

When a man takes up purposes to close with Christ, and yet puts them not into execution: and when he is convinced of sin and duty, and yet improves not his convictions: O this will sting and wound at last.

Now therefore, hath the spirit of the Lord been at work in your souls? Have you ever been convinced of the evil of sin, of the misery of a natural state, of the insufficiency of all things under heaven to help, of the fullness 239and righteousness of Jesus Christ, of the necessity of resting upon him for pardon and peace, for sanctification and salvation? Have you ever been really convinced of these things? O then, as you love your own souls, as ever you hope to be saved at last, and enjoy God for ever, improve these convictions, and be sure you rest not in them till they rise up to a thorough close with the Lord Jesus Christ, and so end in a sound and perfect conversion. Thus shall you be not only almost, but altogether a Christian.

FINIS.

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