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on this account it is, that we are advised, to cast away our transgressions, and to make us clean hearts, and thus expostulated withal, for why will you die ? Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, or in the death of him that dieth? wherefore turn and live. Ezek, xviii. 23. 31, 32. xxxiii. 11. And it is very observable, that he which bids us do these works hath also promised, that he will work them in us, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean ; and a new heart will I give you, and I will put my Spirit upon you, Jer. xxxii. 39. and Heb. viii. 10. Now these places are very easily reconciled, by acknowledging God's superintendency, as the original and first cause ; and mens labout, care, and diligence, as a second cause. So that it may be faid, that man doth it, as we attribute an effect to an instrument : and it must be acknowledged, that God doth it, because he is chief and principal. We read, Jonah iv. 2. that God is said to be a God of great pity: and eltewhere we read, that he delightech in mercy ; and what persons delight in, they do easily and readily. Farther, let it be considered, that the fault is laid upon us, and we are charged with carelessness and selfneglect, if the thing be not done, Prov. i. 31. I have called, but ye refused, and would have none of my counsels. So, Hofea xiii. 9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself : and John vi. 40. ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. This is the fourth particular.
DISCOURSE XIV. The Conversion of a SINNER.
EZEK. xviii. 27. When the wicked man turneth away from his wicked
ness that he hath committed, and doth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his foul alive.
TIFTHLY, To assert our impotency and disI ability, and that God is wanting in necessary
affiftance, is to expose us to an invincible temptation ; and that in these three particulars.
JA, To entertain hard thoughts of God, and such as are unworthy of him.
2dly, To throw off the use of all means, and to take no care at all, in this great affair.
3dly, Finally, to despair ; and we wrong God more by desperation, than by presumption. I say, to affert our inability, and that God is wanting in neceffary aid and aflistance, would be to expose us to think the hardest thoughts imaginable of God; even fo far, as to neglect and throw off the use of all means, and to final desperation. For what are means if the end be not attained by them ? Means are not valuable for themselves, nor will any body be at the charge of them, but in respect of the end. And whose heart will serve him to act, when he hath no manner of hope ? and who can have any
hope if he have no confidence, that God will aid and assist? I add farther ; to think that God is im. placable, and irreconcileable, is the way to come unto the very temper of the devils themselves; but that God is ready with his grace and influence, is that which hath an universal acknowledgment; as appears from these three things.
If. There is not a man among us of any senfe and reason, that will engage in any matter of weight but he will say, in the name of God.
2dly. There is no man of any sobriety if he relate how he hath escaped any danger ; but he will interpose these words, God be thanked, or, as God would have it.
3dly. All men of consideration and fobriety, when they part, will say, God be with you. Which observations import, that it is suitable, and connatural to the nature of man, to apply to God, and to acknowledge him, and to think that God will be with us, to affift and direct us.
Sixthly and lastly, God hath done so much on his part, that he hath given us all reason to believes and think that he is well-minded towards us : and that he is resolved in the matter of our recovery, upon terms, that are made easy, and possible. And to make this appear I will offer you these eight par. ticulars.
First. Take into consideration, the length of God's patience : for were God for our destruction, he would take us at the first advantage, and opportunity, as enemies are wont to do. For who lets an enemy go out of his hand ? Men will hardly suf
fer an enemy to live ; but prevail against him what they can ; left, if they should let him go out of their hand, and let him alone, he should meditate their destruction. And this is that, which is apparent, and the scripture supposes it, Eccl. viii. 2. Ben cause sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of the fons of men are fet ir them to do evil. But 2 Pet. iii. 9. we are told, that, the long-suffering of God doth not proceed either from his weakness, or want of power, but from his willingness that we should not perish. He would have us come to a better understanding, and take a course that we might live. This is the first thing that I would suggest, that God is well-minded towards us, and willing to do us good. The
Second thing that I would offer, is the checks of our own consciences. Now the checks of our own consciences, in all bad ways, we have very great cause to attribute them unto God, as his awakenings of us. And that for this reason, because sinning doth contract hardness and reprobacy of mind ; and difables the mind for its true and proper work ; and makes it as falt that hath lost its favour. We all find it far eafier, to commit a second sin than the first. Therefore we are to look upon the check of our own consciences as the voice of God.
Thirdly, The abundant provision, that God hath made for our recovery, shews that he is in good earnest. There is expiation of fin ; and the assistance of his grace and spirit, for the recovering of us ; and God would not have done all this, if he had not been in good earnest. Here, I will take up the
argument of Manoah's wife, Judges xiii. 22. We shall. furely die, said he, because we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, v. 23. If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt-, offering at our hand, nor shewn us such things as he hath done. 'Tis not reasonable to think, that God having made a large provision for our relief and recovery ; that he should lay a restraint upon the fovereign virtue of that, which is his own remedy ; but fuffer it to grapple with the malignancy of the distemper, though it extend never so far. So that if a good effect doth not follow, it is not because God hath been wanting on his party, nor because he hath not done that which lay upon him to do. If such a remedy prove ineffectual, it must be from, fome other cause, viz. from some obstacle or impediment, or want of due application : or because of the person's impatience under cure, or because things are allowed and delighted in, that are of a contrary nature, and quality ; and not for want of good will in the all-wise God. For the means that God useth are in themselves fufficient, and in case they prove without effect, 'tis because they are not followed.
Men fall short in their repentance, because after men have been sorrowful, they return again to their former iniquities. Whereas, upon repentance there should follow works meet for repentance, Mat. iii. 8. 'Tis an excellent saying that which you find in Ece. clus xxxiv. 25, 26. He that washeth himself because. he hath touched a dead body, and goeth and toucheth it, again, what dath his washing profit him? So he that