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unborn, and teach them thy name and thy praise, when the author has long dwelt in the dust; that so, when he shall appear before thee in the great day of final account, his joy may be increased, and his crown brightened, by numbers before unknown to each other, and to him! But if this petition be too great to be granted to one who pretends no claim but thy sovereign grace, to hope for being favoured with the least, give him to be, in thine Almighty hand, the blessed instrument of converting and saving one soul; and if it be but one, and that the weakest and meanest of those who are capable of receiving this address, it shall be most thankfully accepted as a rich recompense for all the thought and labour it may cost; and though it should be amidst a thousand disappointments with respect to others, yet it shall be the subject of immortal songs of praise to thee, O blessed God, for and by every soul, whom, through the blood of Jesus and the grace of thy Spirit, thou hast saved ; and everlasting bonors shall be ascribed to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, by the innumerable company of angels, and by the general assembly and church of the first-born in heaven. Amen."
THE CARELESS SINNER AWAKENED.
1. 2. It is too supposable a case that this Treatise may come into
such hands.--3. 4. Since many, not grossly vicious, fall under that character.–5. 6. A more particular illustration of this case, with an appeal to the reader, whether it be not his own.—7 to 9. Expostulation with such.-10 to 12. More particularly-From acknowledged principles relating to the Nature of God, his universal presence, agency, and perfection.–13. From a view of personal obligations to him.-14. From the danger of this neglect, when considered in its aspect on a future state.-15. An appeal to the conscience as already convinced.-16. Transition to the subject of the next chapter.—The meditation of a sinner, who, having been long thoughtless, begins to be awakened.
1. SHAMEFULLY and fatally as religion is neglected in the world, yet, blessed be God, it has some sincere disciples, children of wisdom, by whom even in this foolish and
degenerate age, it “is justified ;". (Matt
. ix. 18.) who having by Divine grace, been brought to the knowledge of God in Christ, have faithfully devoted their hearts to him, and, by a natural consequence, are devoting their lives to his service. Could I be sure this Treatise would fall into no hands but theirs, my work would be shorter, easier, and more pleasant.
2. But among the thousands that neglect religion, it is more than probable that some of my readers may be included; and I am so deeply affected with their unhappy case, that the temper of my heart, as well as the proper method of my subject, leads me, in the first place, to address myself to such; to apply to every one of them; and therefore to you, O reader, whoever you are who may come under the denomination of a careless sinner.
3. Be not, I beseech you, angry at the name. The physicians of souls must speak plainly, or they may murder those whom they should cure. I would make no harsh and unreasonable supposition. I would charge you with nothing more than is absolutely necessary to convince you that you are the person to whom I speak. I will not, therefore, imagine you to be a profane and abandoned profligate. I will not suppose, that you allow yourself to blaspheme God, to dishonour his name by customary swearing, or grossly to violate his Sabbath, or commonly to neglect the solemnities of his public worship; I will not imagine that you have injured your neighbours, in their lives, their chastity, or their possessions, either by violence or by fraud ; or that you have scandalously debased the rational nature of man, by that vile intemperance which transforms us into the worst kind of brutes, or something beneath them.
4. In opposition to all this, I will suppose that you believe the existence and providence of God, and the truth of Christianity as a revelation from him; of which, if you have any doubt, I must desire that you would immediately seek your satisfaction elsewhere. I
* In such a case, I beg leave to refer the reader to my three ser
because not to believe it, is in effect to disbelieve it; and will make your ruin equally certain, though perhaps it may leave it less aggravated, than if contempt and opposition had been added to suspicion and neglect. But supposing you to be a nominal Christian and not a deist or a sceptic, I will also suppose your conduct among men to be not only blameless, but amiable; and that they who know you most intimately, must acknowledge that you are just and sober, humane and courteous, compassionate and liberal ; yet, with all this, you may “lack that one thing” (Mark, X. 21.) on which eternal happiness depends.
5. Í beseech you, reader, whoever you are, that you would now look seriously into your own heart, and ask it this one plain question : Am I truly religious? Is the love of God the governing principle of my life? Do I walk under the sense of his presence? Do I coverse with him from day to day, in the exercise of prayer and praise ? And am I, on the whole, making his service my business and my delight, regarding him as my master and iny father ?
6. It is my present business only to address myself to the person whose conscience answers in the negative. And I would address, with equal plainness and equal freedom, to high and low, to rich and poor : to you, who, as the Scripture with a dreadful propriety expresses it, " live without God in the world ! (Eph. ii. 12.) and while in words and forms you own God, deny him in your actions.” (Tit. i. 16.) and behave yourselves in the main, a few external ceremonies only excepted, just as you would do if you
believed and were sure there is no God. Unhappy creature, whoever you are! your own heart condemns you immediately! and how much more that “God who is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." 1 John, iii. 20. He is in “ secret,” (Matt. iv. 6.) as well as in public ; and words cannot express the delight with
mons on the evidence of Christianity, and the last of the ten on the Power and Grace of Christ ; in which he may see the hitherto unshaken foundations of my own faith, in a short, and I hope a clear view.
which his children converse with him alone : but in secret you acknowledge him not : you neither pray to him, nor praise him, in your retirements. Accounts, correspondences, studies, may often bring you into your closet; but if nothing but devotion were to be transacted there, it would be to you quite an unfrequented place. And thus you go on from day to day, in a continual forgetfulness of God, and are as thoughtless about religion as if you had long since demonstrated to yourself that it was a mere dream. If, indeed, you are sick, you will perhaps cry to God for health : in any extreme danger, you will lift up your eyes and voice for deliverance: but as for the pardon of sin, and the other blessings of the Gospel, you are not at all inwardly solicitous about them; though you profess to believe that the Gospel is Divine, and the blessings of it eternal. All your thoughts, and all your hours, are divided between the business and the amusements of life; and if now and then an awful providence, or a serious sermon or book, awakens you, it is but a few days, or it may be few hours, and you are the same careless creature you ever were before. On the whole, you act as if you were resolved to put it to the venture, and at your own expense to make the experiment, whether the consequences of neglecting religion be indeed as terrible as its ministers and friends have represented. Their remonstrances do indeed sometimes force themselves upon you, as, (considering the age and country in which you live,) it is hardly possible entirely to avoid them ; but you have, it may be, found out the art of Isaiah's people, “ hearing to hear, and not understand ; and seeing to see, and not perceive : your heart is waxed gross, your eyes are closed, and your ears heavy.” Isaiah, vi. 9, 10. Under the very ordinances of worship your thoughts “are at the ends of the earth.” Prov. xvii. 24. Every amusement of the imagination is welcome, if it may but lead away your mind from so insipid and so disagreeable a subject as religion. And probably the very last time you were in a worshipping assembly, you managed just as you would have done if you had thought God knew nothing of your behaviour, or as if you did not think
it worth one single care whether he were pleased or displeased with it. 7. Alas! is it then come to this, with all your
belief of God, and providence, and Scripture, that religion is not worth a thought? That it is not worth one hour's serious consideration and reflection, "What God and Christ are, and what you yourselves are, and what you must hereafter be?” Where then are all your rational faculties? How are they employed, or rather how are they stupified and benumbed ?
8. The certainty and importance of the things of which I speak, are so evident, from the principles which you yourselves grant, that one might almost set a child or an idiot to reason upon them. And yet they are neglected by those who are grown up to understanding, and perhaps some of them to such refinement of understanding, that they would think themselves greatly injured if they were not to be reckoned among the politer and more learned part of mankind.
9. But it is not your neglect, Sirs, that can destroy the being or importance of such things as these. It may indeed destroy you, but it cannot in the least affect them. Permit me, therefore, having been myself awakened, to come to each of you, and say, as the mariners did to Jonah while asleep in the midst of a much less dangerous storm, “What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, and call upon thy God.” Jonah, i. 6. Do you doubt as to the reasonableness or necessity of doing it? “ I will demand, and answer me;" (Job, xxxviii. 3.) answer me to your own conscience, as one that must, ere long, render another kind of account.
10. You own that there is a God; and well you may, for you cannot open your eyes but you must see the evident proofs of his being, his presence, and his agency, You behold him around you in every object. You feel him within you, if I may so speak, in every vein, and in every nerve. You see, and you feel, not only that he hath formed
you with an exquisite wisdom, which no mortal man could ever fully explain or comprehend, but that