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themselves to be in the ready road to heaven, and to be, as they imagined, about to step into glory to miss their footing, and fall into eternal torments ! It is a dreadful sight to see soul and hopes giving up the ghost together, and swept away as the spider's web into the fire of hell.* Alas, for a man that hath all his days been building castles in the air, and erecting the house of his fair profession upon the sliding sand of fancy and imagination! to have all come tottering down with one puff of death, will be a dreadful sight! Ministers told them of this, but they would not believe, nor suspect their state, nor spend one hour in searching whether they were right or not; many a time were they warned of the danger, but they pleased themselves in wilful self-delusion, and now they are past recovery; they would not be brought to a holy despair of themselves, that they might have sure footing in these sure mercies, and now they shall and must despair of ever having part or portion in these desirable and permanent mercies; they would not be beaten from their carnal shifts and senseless pleas, and now they must and shall be for ever banished from them, and feel the bitterness of them. Ministers could not deal with them, but God can; and it will be a heart-confounding day, when the varnish shall be washed off, and all rotten props that kept the soul from awful apprehensions shall be torn up, and they shall see themselves deceived by Satan, the world, and their own self-flattering hearts into eternal misery.
(4.) But once more; many things in and about these sure mercies will augment their eternal misery. Alas, sirs, here there is no speaking to wicked men, they will not abide a sober conference about their souls, they have not leisure nor patience to yield an attentive ear
Job xi. 20. and viii. 14.
to discourses about these sure mercies ; but a time is coming wherein they shall be forced to think of them as lost 'mercies to their cost : now they have other things to mind, the world doth so fill their ears and hearts, that they thrust these things from them, and judge themselves unworthy of them. They are just like Jeremiah's wild ass used to the wilderness, “ that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure, in her occasion who can turn her away? -but in her month they shall find her. "* So there is no dealing with wicked men in their jollity and frolic fits, but their month of sorrow is approaching either here or hereafter; and oh the bitter pangs and travail that shall then possess them! in this world they would not consider, but hereafter they shall have an eternity to consider of these covenant mercies, though in a hopeless way: as
[i.] They will think of the nature of these mercies they have lost. O how free, how sweet, how suitable, how satisfying were they! how sure would God have made them to them and the better these mercies, the bitterer their sorrow on the loss of them.
[ii.] They will think that once they might have enjoyed them, and been happy in that enjoyment; once they had a day of grace, means of grace, ministers persuaded, the Spirit moved, mercies, afflictions, word, and rod-every thing spoke this language: O embrace these mercies; but I refused, and now they are out of
[iii.] They will think, and think again, how near they were to the embracing of these mercies; () what convictions, individually they will say, did God fasten on my heart by such and such a sermon!
I was once half-persuaded to embrace religion, how near was I to
Jer. ii. 24.
a full closure ! I went home with strong resolutions to be another man; but this deceitful heart beguiled me, and so I put off repentance till now it is too late.
[iv.] They will think what these mercies would have done for them; these mercies would have folded their souls within the arms of God's love; these would hare filled their souls with grace, fitted them for God's service, and furnished them for glory; these mercies would have rendered them profitable in life, comfortable in death, and happy for ever: the possessors of these mercies are gracious saints. Yet again,
[v.] They will think with sadness what they have exchanged these mercies for; they have passed off these precious and sure mercies for trash and trifles, for dung and dirt, for a little paltry pleasure or consciencewounding profit, which now they have left behind them in the world, and only carry the guilt and shame along with them, which must abide by them, when sensual delights are vanished away. Oh what gnashing of teeth and indignation at themselves will this beget for their former madness !
[vi.] They must think how many thousands of souls were made happy by a gracious reception and full enjoyment of these mercies; persons whom they despised in the world, and thought not worthy to come into their company, shall sit down with the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles in heaven; but these wretched souls are thrust out. Oh, says the wretched subject of damnation, I might have been happy as well as yonder shining saint; he was a suffering creature, I was a rejoicing miscreant; now he is comforted, and I am tormented. Yet, once more,
[vii.] The damned in hell will bethink themselves who was in the fault, and whence it comes to pass that these mercies were not made sure to their souls; and
they can charge none herewith but themselves: they will then see that none was to be blamed but their own wilful hearts, whatever they may object here, or boast of their willingness, yet God lays the blame there, and so shall they, will they, nill they, they must be speechless, and charge themselves only as making faggots to burn themselves with for ever. Oh, will the soul think, I may thank myself for this ; I wilfully forsook my own mercies to observe lying vanities; this is the fruit of my own doings, I would needs be damned; ministers and godly friends persuaded, God stopt my way by his providences and ordinances, but I would run into the pit, and here I am shut up in eternal darkness; woe is me that ever I was born! O that I had either never heard of or else embraced those mercies, that I have rejected, and that will follow my soul with horror for ever!
Ah sirs, I beseech you consider, such a day will come, and then you will remember these things, and they will lie heavy upon you, then you will feel what an evil and bitter thing it is that you have forsaken God: then you will vomit up your sweet morsels, and remember those sweet words that here you despised ; then you will remember the possibility and probability you once had, of obtaining these sweet mercies; now they are attainable, but if once you have taken a step upon the shore of eternity, you are past hopes and remedy, for the dead and damned do only hear the sound of wisdom with their ears, but are never likely to enjoy the benefit thereof. † O put not off these things with some slight and transient thoughts, but shame yourselves to a holy diligence.
2. Another sort to be reproved, are God's own children that are guilty of four lamentable faults :* Psalm cxli. 6.
+ Job xxviii. 22, VOL. II
(1.) They are apt to bargain.
(1.) God's children would have the mercies of the covenant ; but then they have a mind to indent * with God, to be secured from the crosses attending these mercies; the flesh shrinks and is loth to suffer; we are like Orpah, we would follow Christ a little way, but fain would we make our bargain so, as not to follow him in a rough way. But, sirs, consider would you have the sweets and not the bitters of godliness ? Did you not take Christ (in a marriage covenant) for better and worse? will you pick and choose with him ? do not right virgin-souls follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth ? Ah sirs, this covenant relation is an express, voluntary, universal, unreserved self-resignation. The bearing of the cross was always supposed and implied ; † and if you will not have him with it, you are to be without, for the cross is evan. gelii genius, the very inseparable property, complexion, and companion of the gospel : and Christ would not have any cheated with imaginary hopes of immunity from sufferings, but tells them the worst, and bids them sit down and count the cost;f and if you did not so at first, you have not been sincere, and if you did, and still would have Christ—why do you now grumble at bearing that which you freely chose? Besides, know this, crosses for Christ are special gospel mercies, for afflictions are adapted to become real mercies of the covenant, and therefore they are promised as well as any other mercies, Psalm lxxxix. 31, 32, and David acknowledges affliction to be an act and fruit of covenant faithfulness, because it fetched him from his wander• To bargain. + Matt. x. 37, 38. Mark x. 30. | Luke xiv. 28.