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tfe have in this Book a clear proof that God convinceth the wicked, and that he giveth them grace to repent. JFe have also the abominable sins of Manasseh mentioned in this Book, and horn he \umbleth himself and besought the Lord his God in affliction, and the Lord heard his prayer and showed him great mercy. Again, this Work altogether is worth your notice, and it hath a short and easy explanation thercto.
Now, we may plainly see by vthat follows, that God convinceth the wicked, and that there is a way of repentance for the chief of sinners: did not the Lord convince Cain when he was wrath, because his offering was not accepted? And the Lord said unto him by way of condition, if thou doeth well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doeth not well, sin lieth at the door. (Gen. iv. 7.) Was not Pharaoh convinced that there was truth in God's word, when Joseph interpreted his dream, and at the time appointed it came to pass? (Gen. xli. 38, 39.) Was not Nebuchadnezzar the king, convinced in his wicked act by God, when he cast the three holy children into the burning fiery furnace? for he saw four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and he confessed that the form of the fourth, was like the Son of God; therefore he must know that there was a God, that excelled his God, and made him cry out, and bless the God of heaven. (Dan. iii—see chap. iv.) It is not always because great men do not know the way of the Lord, but it is, because they are in great power, and so fall away to great pride and idolatry, that is oftentimes occasioned by the lust of our sinful nature: are not we all convinced? do not we •11 receive a talent from the hand of God? and if we improve it, it will go well with us, but if we improve tlvm not, it will go ill with us , and this we may see, by the ratable that our Lord Plus forthin the.25th"Chapter of St. M'tthew's Gospel. (See Luke xix. 15.) And again, the Lord iells his disciples to heal the sick, and to say unto them, Th< kingdom of God is come nigh unto you; but if they will lot receive you, it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sidom, than for that city: therefore we must not turn our. bicks. when the Lord is ready to convince us, and convert u?from sin ;. for St. Paul saith, The grace of God that bringeth silvation, hath appeared to all men. (Titus n. 11.) And again le saith, Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame. vl Cor. xv. 34.) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, saith St. Paul, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head, so that they are without excuse. (Rom. i. 20.)
Now, we may clearly see and know that we are all sinners, and have broke the holy law of God, by word, and deed: but the Lord, hast not left us in this state and condition if we will turn unto him; for we see how he convinceth the wicked, and that how, through Christ, he is so gracious to us, and stands ready to pardon, and to forgive us our sins, if we will by his help return and repent, and lead a new life in Christ Jesus. O taste and see how good and kind the Lord. is to us all; 0 behold these little Books that I have wrote, called by these names—the 8th, The Sufferings of Christ; the 9th, Christ Died.for All; the 10th, The Goodness of God; the 11 th, called Exortation; the 15th, The Earth Filled with the Glory of the Lord; the 25th, God's Care for hisPeople; the 30th, The Blessed Stale of the Righteous. And see more • of my little Books, and then we need not doubt in the goodness and mercy of God, which leadeth men unto repentance; O then let us not go into despair and say, our hearts are so hardened, and our sins are so great, that the Lordwill not forgive. 0 let us behold how great men have sinned, and rebelled against the God of heaven, and after this they have sought him, and cried unto hiin, and he hast had mercy upon them. Behold how notorious and great was the sins of Manasseh, an 1 detestable in the sight of God. Now, Manasseh was twelve years old, when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem, and probably many o£ these years were spent in this great sin: as follows, he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel, for he built up again tha high places, which Hezekiahhis father had destroyed, and he reared up altars for ball, and made a grove, as did Ahab King of Israel, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served th' m. and he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem, will Iputniy name; and he built altars for all the host of heaven, in the two courts of the house of tiie Lord. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made, in the house of which the Lord said to' David, an I to Sclomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits, and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very mucb, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judahto sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. (2 Kings xxi.)
Now one would be ready to think, if any man despaired of the mercy of God, this man would for one, and be ready to think that his grace, love, and favour, was gone from him for ever. But still there is some hopes of such a man as this, for behold how he repented, for the Lord gave him into the hand of the king of Assyria, and he was bound with fetters, and carried to Babylon. And now behold the repenting sinner, for when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and^ humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God. (2 Chron. xxxiii.) We may also find his prayer, in the Book called Apocrypha, and it appears to be adapted right and suitable for his state and condition. Now, behold how this great sinner repented, and humbled himself, and found mercy from the Lord. And are not his great sins, and his repentance wrote down for an example for all great offenders, that they may not go into despair of the mercy of God, by the suggestion of the devil, or their own evil hearts? which oftentimes tell men it is too soon to seek the Lord, and leave the pleasure of this life; and so leads them on till they are riper in sin, and then tells them it is too late. Now mark this, because Manasseh committed great sins, and then found favour and pardon from the Lord; I say, this doth not give us license to continue in sin, but it is for an encouragement for us to repent, that we may find pardon by the blood of Christ. But if we will continue in sin, and so do despite, to the spirit of grace; who can tell, we may be cut off by a stroke; then, a great ransom cannot deliver us out of hell.
Now, Idolatry is a hateful thing in the sight of the Lord, for, it is a departing from the living God: and, hear the command of God, to the children of Israel; Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. (Lev. xxvi. 1.) And again he saith, But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. (Deut. iv. 29.) For the Lord is very merciful, and will not cast us off for ever, for if we turn unto him and repent, we shall live: turn thou me, and I shall be turned: for thou art the Lord my God. (Jer. xxxi. 18.) And the first words of the preaching of John the Baptist, was, that they should repent, that they may be a people prepared for the Lord. j (Matt. iii. 1.) And it appears to be the first preaching of Christ, from that time, Jesus beg ;n to preach, and to say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matt. iv. 17.) And, O my Lord, surely thou art waiting, and ready to be merciful and kind to all them that repent, and humble their souls in thy sight. But at the same time thou hast said, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke xiii. 3.) And O that we may pray unto thee, 0 Lord, for grace to repent. For thou hast exalted thy Son, to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts v. 31.) But let not our repentance be like unto Judas, who betrayed his Lord and master; for when he saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented himself, and then went and hanged himself. So it is to be feared, that his repentance was no other than a way of remorse, or horror, shame, or the stings of a guilty conscience: but let us imitate after them that have sincerely repented, and found the love of God communicative unto their souls.
Now, we read, that David committed a great sin, for he
committed adultery, with Bath-sheba. the wife of Uriah. But, behold how he repented and said, Have mercy upon me, 0 God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. But, behold his faith. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence: and take not thy holy spirit from me. And in calling sin to remembrance, he crieth out and saith,'Deliver me irom blood-guiltiness, 0 God, thou God of my salvation. (Psalm li.) And you may see by his Psalms how he sincerely repented: and the Lord had mercy upon him and put away his sin. (2 Sam. xii. 13.) And we see also in another place, how that Peter denied his Lord and Master. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, with great pity, love, and compassion. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he went out and wept bitterly. For surely methinks it grieved him so, that he repented sincerely from his heart. (Luke xxii. 61.)
Now my fellow sinners, if you are any ways inclinable that your souls should be saved from hell: behold'what manner of love, the Lord has for poor helpless sinners, and what joy there is in heaven, when one sinner repenteth, and turneth unto him. (Luke xv.) Now, when the Publican, and Sinners, drew near unto Christ, to hear him, the Pharisees, and Scribes, murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners andjeateth with them ; but, though the Pharisees seem to condemn them, yet we see the tender mercy of our Lord towards them: therefore, he said unto them, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not he leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it? And when he hath found it, he rejoiceth more for that sheep, it appears, than for the ninety and nine which went not astray. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance..