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cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye. The finner's neck is flexible enough to the devil's yoke ; but it is an iron finew to Christ's yoke. He that has a will to any thing, he has no will to this, till a day of power make him willing, Psal. cx. 3.
2. Because of prevailing love to carnal ease. Prov. xxvi. 15. “ The Nothful hideth his hand in his bosom ; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.” The man loves to sleep in a sound skin, and therefore will die in his nest, if God do not in mercy set a fire to it. Sloth is so sweet a sin, that the carnal heart can never get a fill of it, Prov. vi. 10. “ Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” The man lies in the bed of floth, and would not miss heaven if it would fall down into his mouth, or if wishing and woulding would do it. But if these will not do, he must even want it, for he cannot leave the embrace of his dear ease. Fighting, running, praying, striving, wrestling, taking heavenly violence, and the like, he cannot away with.
3. Because Satan furnishes them with work more agreeable, and it they will do; therefore God's work they will not meddle with : John, viii. 44. “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lufts of your father ye will do.” When the call of the gospel comes to finners, Satan does with them as Pharaoh did with the Israelites, holds them more to their tasks; so they have always busy hands, and hearts full of their work, insomuch that they cannot get the work of religion minded to purpose. And what are they doing? They are busy weaving the spider's web; very busy doing nothing, or hatching the cockatrice egg, doing worse than nothing. They have much to do, having the desires of the flesh and mind to fulfil. They have more
24. 6 Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof ; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirl-wind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall feek me early, but they shall not find me ; for that they hated knowledge, and did choose the fear of the Lord.” Salvation-work will not work, unless men bestir themselves; but damnation-work will go on when men fit at ease, and are carried down the stream into the ocean of the wrath of God.
IV. In the last place, I am to make some practical improvement; in doing which, I shall confine myself, for the present, to an use of exhortation. I would exhort refusers of Christ and of religion to take their word again, and to comply with the gospel-call. Ye have had many calls to engage in the work of religion with earnestness, but the answer of the most part is, I will not; and thus one refusal comes on the back of another..
You have had many calls from the word of God to fall to your work, and what has been your answer to these messages of God by his fervants, but that I will not ? Have you not heard many exhortations which have never affected you? Have you not gone back to those very fins for which reproofs have met you in public ordinances, and yet you have held them fast ? Has not duty been laid plainly before you, and you have found means to put it by? and still the answer is, I will not... 2. Has not God pursued fome of you by afflictions to drive you to your work, and yet no awakening to repentance and reformation, but still the language of your practice has been, I will not. 'The Lord, in his holy providence, has sent you lofies, crosses, and distresses of divers forts, to bring. you to your duty; but, O! may it not be written on rod after rod, You have not yet returned to the formerly refused; for it is a work preferable to all other works. The work of religion is your main, your chief work. (1.) It is the most pleasant work. Many are disgusted at the work of religion, because they think it unpleasant. But they have not yet tried it, and therefore are not fit judges. You have a more favourable account of it from Prov. iii. 17. “ Her ways are ways of pleasantnefs, and all her paths are peace.” See also Psal. iv. 7. 8. “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and fleep; for thou, Lord, only makeft me dwell in safety.” There is work indeed in the vineyard that is very unpleasant to corrupt nature ; but even out of this arises the most refined fatisfaction to the new nature. And what are all the pleasures of the world, to reconciliation with God, and that peace of conscience and joy that there is in believing ? (2.) It is the most profitable work. The profit thereof is both for time and for eternity, I Tim. iv. 8. “ For bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”. The profits of it are durable profits; they last, and will be profitable, when all others will be of no avail. Hereby you will gain the life of your souls, and, as the loss is incomparably great, so also is the gain of it. (3.) It is the most necefsary work. It is the one thing needful, absolutely needful, Luke, x. 42. We cannot be happy here or hereafter without it; without it, we are undone for ever.
3. Nay, has not the Lord sometimes so met you in a linful course, that you could not but say, This is the finger of God ? and yet ye would be froward, ye would go back to the fin again. What is the language of that, but I will not? Have ye not fallen under Jotham's curse again and again ? Judges, ix. 15. whereby fire has flashed out of some one or other bramble, under which you have rested, on your faces to burn you, instead of that shade ye thought to find under it to refresh you. Has not your conscience awakened on you sometimes, and the arrows of conviction fastened on you, and yet you have refused ? Ye have murdered convictions, and never been at ease till conscience has been filenced. You have run away from God, even with his arrows sticking in you, saying in opposition, I will not.
Lastly, Have you not often delayed complying with the call of God, and set the time for your going to work ? Yet for all that is come and gone, your eyes have never seen that time yet. What is delaying but plainly a refusal? I will not. For there is no word of God that lays, GQ work to-morrow, or the next day; it is to-day, if ye will hear his voice; fon, go work to-day. So that he that will, not work to-day, but pretends he will do it afterwards, plainly refuses the call, and will not.
. To promote your compliance with the call, I would offer a few weighty motives ; as, 1. Repent now, and fall to that work ye have Vol. I.
2. Ye are always working something. The greatest idler on earth is in some fort always busy. God does not require of you more work, but other work. The soul of man is like a watch, that goes as faft in going wrong as in going right. How
sad is it, that seeing men are always doing something, they should refuse only that work which would honour God, and save their own souls ! Will you not, then, for God's fake, and your own fake., change your work ? . 3. It is sad work you are working while you refuse this. If you be not working out your own salvation, you are working out your own damnation. We are always going forward; if not preffing a step nearer heaven, you are a step nearer hell. Every refusal, yea, every sin, is a new impediment in your way to heaven, a new call to Heaven for vengeance on the finner, builds the feparation-wall the higher, and lays on the greater
4. Consider, if ye be not in some fort at as much pains to ruin your souls, as otherwise might fave them. There are difficulties in the ways of fin, as well as in the ways of God. Is the work of religion a toilsome work ? but do not ye many times weary yourselves to commit iniquity? Is there not as much pain when a finner deprives himself of his night's rest, racking himself about the world, as when a faint communes with his heart on his bed about eternal things? The finner travels to bring forth fin, Psal. vii. 14. What more than this at the hard duties of religion ! Since he that engages not in the work of religion is cumbered about many things, had he not better take up with the one thing needful? The saint has but one master to serve ; finners have many, not only at war with God, but at war among themfelves, one lust dragging them one way, and another another way.
5. The time is coming, when working in the vineyard will be over ; and if ye continue to reF 2