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igence in duty for the time to come, will procure your discharge from this sentence? Take heed, sinner, what kind of obedience thou thinkest of offering to a holy God. That must be spotless and complete which his infinite sanctity can approve and accept, if he consider thee in thyself alone there must be no inconstancy, no forgetfulness, no mixture of sin attending it. And wilt thou, enfeebled as thou art by so much original corruption, and so many sinful habits contracted by innumerable actual transgressions, undertake to render such an obedience, and that for all the remainder of thy life? In vain wouldst thou attempt it, even for one day. New guilt would immediately plunge thee into new ruin. But if it did not, if from this moment to the very end of thy life all were as complete obedience as the law of God required from Adam in Paradise, would that be sufficient to cancel past guilt? Would it discharge an old debt, that thou hast not contracted a new one? Offer this to thy neighbour, and see if he will accept it for payment; and if he will not, wilt thou presume to offer it to thy God?
6. But I will not multiply words on so plain a subject. While I speak thus, time is passing away, death presses on, and judgement is approaching. And what can save thee from these awful scenes, or what can protect thee in them? Can the world save thee? that vain delusive idol of thy wishes and pursuits, to which thou art sacrificing thine eternal hopes? Well dost thou know, that it will utterly forsake thee when thou needest it most; and that not one of its enjoyments can be carried along with thee into the invisible state; no, not so much as a trifle, to remember it by, if thou couldst desire to remember so inconstant and so treacherous a friend as the world has been.
7. And when you are dead, or when you are dying, can your sinful companions save you? Is there any one of them, if he were ever so desirous of doing it, that "can give unto God a ransom for you," (Psalm xlix. 7.) to deliver you from going down to the grave, or from going down to hell? Alas, you will probably be so sensible of this, that, when you lie on the borders of the grave, you
will be unwilling to see, or to converse with, those that were once your favorite companions. They will afflict you rather than relieve you, even then; how much less can they relieve you before the bar of God, when they are overwhelmed with their own condemnation.
8. As for the powers of darkness, you are sure they will be far from having any ability or inclination to help you. Satan has been watching and labouring for your destruction, and he will triumph in it. But if there could be any thing of an amicable confederacy between you, what would that be but an association in ruin? For the day of judgement of ungodly men, will also be the judgement of these rebellious spirits; and the fire into which thou, O sinner, must depart, is that which was "prepared for the devil and his angels." Matt. xxv. 41.
9. Will the celestial spirits then save thee? Will they interpose their power, or their prayers, in thy favour? An interposition of power, when sentence is gone forth against thee, were an act of rebellion against heaven, which these holy and excellent creatures, would abhor. And when the final pleasure of the Judge is known, instead of interceding in vain for the wretched criminal, they would rather, with ardent zeal for the glory of their Lord, and cordial acquiescence in the determination of his wisdom and justice, prepare to execute it. Yea, difficult as it may at present be to conceive it, it is a certain truth, that the servants of Christ, who now most tenderly love you, and most affectionately seek your salvation, not excepting those who are allied to you in the nearest bonds of nature or of friendship, even they shall put their Amen to it. Now indeed their bowels yearn over you, and their eyes pour out tears on your account. Now they expostulate with you, and plead with God for you, if by any means, while yet there is hope, you may be plucked as a firebrand out of the burning." Amos, iv. 11. But, alas! their remonstrances you will not regard; and as for their prayers, what should they ask for you? What but that you may see yourself to be undone; and that, utterly despairing of any help from yourself, or from any created power, you may lie before
God in humility and brokenness of heart; that, submitting yourself to his righteous judgement, and in an utter renunciation of all self-dependence and of all creature dependence, you may lift up an humble look towards him, as almost from the depths of hell, if peradventure he may have compassion upon you, and may himself direct you to that only method of rescue, which, while things continue as in present circumstances they are, neither earth, nor hell, nor heaven, can afford you.
The Lamentation of a Sinner in this miserable Condition.
"Oh! doleful, uncomfortable, helpless state! O wretch that I am, to have reduced myself to it! Poor, empty, miserable, abandoned creature! Where is my pride, and the haughtiness of my heart? Where are my idol deities, 'whom I have loved and served, after whom I have walked, and whom I have sought,' (Jer. viii. 2.) while I have been multiplying my transgressions against the majesty of heaven? Is there no heart to have compassion upon me? Is there no hand to save me? Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me:' (Job, xix. 21.) hath seized me! I feel it pressed upon me hard, and what shall I do? Perhaps they have pity upon me, but, alas! how feeble a compassion! only, if there be any where in the whole compass of nature any help, tell me where it may be found! O point it out, direct me toward it; or rather, confounded and astonished as my mind is, take me by the hand, and lead me to it!
"O ye ministers of the Lord, whose office it is to guide and comfort distressed souls, take pity upon me! I fear I am a pattern of many other helpless creatures, who have the like need of your assistance. Lay aside your other cares, to care for my soul, to care for this precious soul of mine, which lies as it were bleeding to death, (if that expression may be used,) while you perhaps hardly afford me a look, or, glancing an eye upon me, 'pass over to the other side.' Luke x. 32. Yet, alas! in a case like mine, what can your interposition avail if it be alone: If the
Lord do not help me, how can you help me?' 2 Kings,
"O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh,' (Numb. xvi. 22.) I lift up mine eyes unto thee, and 'cry unto thee, as out of the belly of hell.' Jonah, ii. 2. I cry unto thee, at least from the borders of it. Yet, while I lie before thee in this infinite distress, I know that thine almighty power and boundless grace can still find out a way for my re
"Thou art he, whom I have most of all injured and affronted; and yet from thee alone must I now seek redress. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight; so that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest,' (Psalm, li. 4.) though thou shouldst at this moment adjudge me to eternal misery. And yet I find something that secretly draws me to thee, as if I might find rescue there, where I have deserved the most aggravated destruction. Blessed God, I have destroyed myself; but in thee is my help,' (Hos. xiii. 9.) if there can be help at all. "I know, in the general, that thy ways are not as our ways, nor thy thoughts as our thoughts;' but are as high above them, as the heavens are above the earth.' Isai. lv. 8, 9. Have mercy,' therefore, 'upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies!' Psalm li. 1. O point out the path to the city of refuge! O'lead me' thyself, 'in the way everlasting! Psalm, cxxxix. 24. I know, in the general, that thy Gospel is the only remedy: O teach thy servants to administer it! O prepare my heart to receive it! and suffer not, as in many instances, that malignity, which has spread itself through all my nature, to turn that noble medicine into poison!"
NEWS OF SALVATION BY CHRIST BROUGHT TO THE CONVINCED AND CONDEMNED SINNER.
1. The awful things which have hitherto been said, intended not to grieve, but to help.-2. After some reflection on the pleasure with which a minister of the Gospel may deliver the message with which he is charged.-3. And some reasons for the repetition of what is in speculation so generally known.-4-6. The author proceeds briefly to declare the substance of these glad tidings: viz. that God, having in his infinite compassion sent his Son to die for sinners, is now reconcileable through him.-7, 8. So that the most heinous transgressions shall be entirely pardoned to believers, and they made completely and eternally happy. The sinner's reflection on this good news.
1. My dear reader, it is the great design of the Gospel, and wherever it is cordially received, it is the glorious effect of it, to fill the heart with sentiments of love; to teach us to abhor all unnecessary rigour and severity, and to delight not in the grief, but in the happiness of our fellowcreatures. I can hardly apprehend how he can be a Christian, who takes pleasure in the distress which appears even in a brute, much less in that of a human mind; and especially in such distress as the thoughts I have been proposing must give, if there be any due attention to their weight and energy. I have often felt a tender regret, while I have been representing these things; and I could have wished from my heart, that it had not been necessary to have placed them in so severe and so painful a light. But now I am addressing myself to a part of my work, which I undertake with unutterable pleasure; and to that, which indeed I had in view, in all those awful things which I have already been laying before you. I have been showing you, that, if you hitherto have lived in a state of impenitence and sin, you are condemned by God's righteous judgement, and have in yourself no spring of hope, and no possibility of deliverance. But I mean not to leave you under this sad apprehension, to lie down and die in despair, complaining of that cruel zeal which has "tormented you before your time." Matt. viii. 29.
2. Arise, O thou dejected soul, that art prostrate in the