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too hastily, and fell again into his old vanities and debaucheries; being then admonished, that that course of life was inconsistent with christianity, he presently abandoned his new assumed religion, that he might retain his old abominations. It is well if many do not thus own religion merely from a mistake; and therefore the primitive church appointed catechists to train up and try new converts for a season, in order to their solemn entering into a baptismal covenant, and being received as adult members to all church privileges. O that you did duly understand what you do in this great affair; think and think again of it; learn all that it is fit you should know; it is dangerous to be invincibly ignorant, it is ruinous to be wilfully ignorant; if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost;* and if you neither know this way of peace, nor study to know it, but say to God, "Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;"† I pronounce you to be without Christ, "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." O then, as ever you would seriously enter into this covenant, get your minds well informed; be not satisfied with wellmeaning, or an honest mind, which carnal hearts joining with Socinians do applaud, though distinct from, yea, without saving knowledge; || but you have not so learned Christ; see then that you thus hear him, and be taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; § and then you are prepared for covenanting with him.
2. You must break off confederacy with all others. This is absolutely necessary; no covenanting with God till you be divorced from the world, the flesh, and the devil; our Lord admits of no competition; the throne
* 2 Cor. iv. 3. + Rom. iii. 17. Job xxi. 14.
+ Eph. ii. 12.
§ Eph. iv. 21.
and bed suffer no rival; you cannot serve God and mammon, nor swear by the Lord and by Malcham; if your heart be divided you will be found wanting :* "What communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial?" God will not treat with that man that keeps his sword in his hands; throw down your weapons, your sins, "wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings," saith God, "from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, &c. Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord;" forsake the foolish and live, cast away all your idols and abominations; say of your loveliest graven images of silver, and the most costly ornaments of your molten images of gold, "Get you hence; what have I to do any more with idols ?" || "O Lord our God, other lords have had dominion over us besides thee; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name."§ "God forbid that I should henceforth serve sin; if I could get free from sin, I should then become the servant of righteousness. I renounce my sinful self, my civil self, my relative, yea my righteous self, and all things whatsoever that stand in competition with thee; yea, I will beat down my body, and deny my natural self of any thing that may feed the flesh, and make it break the reins of temperance, chastity, and sobriety; by the assistance of God's grace I will renounce the world as the chief source of happiness, and set myself against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, by which I have been so oft entangled."** God forbid that any inferior object should captivate your heaven-born soul; what is gold to God? what are goods to grace? what is earth to heaven? Alas that
* Matt. vi. 24. Zeph. i. 5. Hos. x. 2. + 2 Cor. vi. 14-16. Isa. i. 16-18. || Isa. xxx. 22. Hos. xiv. 8. § Isa. xxvi. 13. Rom. vi. 18. 1 John ii. 16.
gain should be your godliness, your shop, your temple, your coffer, your shrine! Come, soul, do not stand out, nor capitulate with God, as though you were upon equal terms with him, or as princes, that, if their opponents come not up to their proposal, prepare to take up arms and right or revenge themselves by force. Be it known to you, that you are rebel-subjects, whom the great King hath bound in chains, and can hang up at his pleasure for your treasons; only he waits with patience till you return to allegiance, and upon lower terms he will not receive you; then cast down your arms, and cry for mercy. God's justice and holiness are both engaged against sin, "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked;"* there is one red letter in God's name, "he will by no means clear the guilty,"† that is, the wicked, who holds fast his deceit; he cannot be reconciled to the sinner, who loves his sin more than God; and he doth so who will not part with sin to be in friendship with God; he that keeps his makebate in his bosom, shall not be taken into God's bosom ; for sin only made the breach, and divorce from sin only makes up the breach; canst thou expect God should betray his honour, and deny himself to gratify thee? did you ever hear of a prince giving permission to effect his own dethronement? Now sin is high treason against the Sovereign of the universe; as long as the traitor is within, God will not raise the seige or hear of treating for peace; cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, cast it over the wall,|| and you shall find him a friend; nor must you think, as one saith, to send a beloved lust out of the way for a while, as princes use to do with their favourites in a popular commotion to please the people, and then call them
Isa. lvii. 21.
Omne peccatum est deicidium.
+ Exod. xxxiv. 7.
2 Sam. xx. 22.
home when the storm is over: God will not thus be mocked, either bid a perpetual adieu to sin, or God and your souls will never meet in amity; nothing but sin will forbid the banns of marriage betwixt God and you; and what lust is so sweet, so profitable, for which it is worth being tormented in hell for ever? When Darius fled before Alexander, he cast away his massy crown from his head, which encumbered him in his escape, so do thou, Heb. xii. 1.
3. Your will must be disposed to give a cordial consent. An assent of the understanding, or a withdrawment of the affections from sin, in some instances, is not enough, except there be a mighty change of the will; the will is the refuser and chooser of objects, it is the master wheel in the soul; it is the soul's weight, for which way that goes, all goes; affections are but movements of the will; you will never hate sin till the will be set against it; your sins may leave you, the unclean spirit may go out, but is not driven out, unless the will be set against it. Moses's choice was in his will, and he forsook the court when grown up; reason dictated to his will, and the will complied with reason. A man doth not forsake his wife when he is detained froin her in prison, but when he puts her away and gives her a bill of divorce; and no man can be forced to marry a wife, or a wife a husband against their will; that is no marriage which wants consent of the will. God lays the chief stress on this, “if you be willing and obedient: you will not come to me that you may have life; the people shall be willing in the day of thy power; if there be first a willing mind it is accepted;"* if the will be ready the whole man is ready. What we are willing to do, we put all things in a readiness to accomplish as one saith, "Because the Lord is ready
Isa. i. 19. John v. 40. Psal. cx. 3. 2 Cor. viii. 12.
to forgive, he keeps, as it were, blank pardons by him to distribute to penitents; it is but putting a name to them, and it is done;" so when a man's will is renewed, he subscribes with his hand to the Lord, a covenant engagement is made; he becomes willing and ready to embrace the first opportunity, he sets all things in order for it, he puts off other business and company, and withdraws himself to manage the concern effectually, nothing shall hinder him. Mary will throw off all other business, and will sit at Jesus' feet; the bowing of the will unlocks the door, and sets it open for Christ; when God saith, seek my face, the renewed will echos, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.* But if your wills be not forward, you will make a thousand objections, some lion is in the way: you will not set about this or that engagement to purpose without your will; and God will not receive you, except you consent with your heart; this is a spiritual marriage, and requires the will's consent; assent of the understanding will not serve without consent of the will; this is that which God chiefly requires, "My son, give me thy heart;"+ this is that for which ministers entreat sinners, "that with purpose of heart they should cleave to the Lord;"‡ this is the proper act of saving faith, "With the heart man believes." You do nothing except you be truly willing; you will but mock God and deceive yourselves, without a willing heart. O sirs, feel your pulse, try your state, hath grace changed your will? then come and engage in covenant with God; "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."§ It is true, "It is God only that worketh in us, both to will and to do;" but you are to enquire whether God hath wrought thus; and being acted upon you will act, being moved
• Psal. xxvii. 8. || Rom. x. 10.
+ Prov. xxiii. 26.
+ Act. xi. 23.