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« the temple of the Lord are thefe ? That true religion is an :
inward, serious, fpiritual thing, consisting in an evidencing • itself by the mortification of your sins, and real devotedness; r of your hearts to the Lord ?' .
If such a man as this will please, and delight your very hearts; then my reason is bound to conclude, there may be i reality in what you pretend. But if you shall hate and loath such a man as this equally with a professed diffenter ; you must excuse me, and all the rational world with me, if we shall conclude, that it is not true zeal for the laws, for the church, or for the fincerity and peaceable lives of its professors; but an inward rooted enmity at religion itself, that sets you on work, under the feigned pretences of other things.
Expectation ;5. Fifthly, Your reason will expect, and exact it from you, that whensoever you shall be convinced, that all these stirs and bustles that have been in the world, all this fin-. ing, imprisoning, and impoverishing your Protestant brethren and neighbours for their conscience sake, hath done the church no good, but given a great and real advantage to our common enemy, to ruin us together ; that we may distinguish ourselves how we please in our folly, but they will never diftinguish us in their fury; for we are all known to them, by. one common name of Heretics.
In this case, your reason exacts it from you, and so doth the common reason of mankind, that a sense of common interest, and common danger, now quiet those feuds, and extinguish those fires, which our own lusts first kindled, and the devil and our common enemies have incensed, to the great damage and hazard of the whole Protestant cause.. . :
Such a seasonable and becoming sense as this, were in itself fufficient to cool a wise man's heats, if penal laws, were left standing in their full force and vigour : But when the wisdom and reason of the state shall plainly discern both the usefulness and necessity of liberty, and thereupon take away (as they have now most prudently and seasonably done) the further occafions of mischiefs to the whole, by relaxing the yoke that bound some (and those a very great body of truly loyal and useful subjects) leaving the rest in the quiet poffession of their own libera ties and properties ; what shall we call that fire, which itill continues burning and increasing, not only after, but by all this, but an uuquenchable hell-fire.
If chimera's, and self-created jealousies, are indulged, that fome carnal interests of ours are not so well secured to us uns ... mer i Eee 2: ...
and excucer realon hath play without
der liberty, as they were under persecution and tyranny ; this will be the right way to perpetuate dissentions and persecutions to the end of the world.
And now, gentlemen, I hope I may fay, without being vain or opinionative, our reason hath fairly difarmed you of these pleas and excuses, by which you have hitherto de fended yourselves in your moft sinful practices of profane cursing and swearing, drunkenness, uncleanness, and bitter enmity against your Proteftant brethren, for things that touch not the effence of Christianity. .
And believe it, firs, it is truly genteel and glorious, to suffer yourselves to be fubdued and conquered by the plain convictions of your own reason and conscience. It is ten thousand times more honourable and glorious to lay down your arms at the feet of these, than to lay down both reason and conscience at the feet of Satan and your lusts, and continue fighting obsti. rately against God, your own souls, bodies, estates, reputa. tions ; yea, your very reasons and confciences, your innocent brethren, and the peace of church and state, under Satan's banner.
In all this discourse, I have not designed to exafperate, but assuage and restrain your lufts and passions, by laying the lov. ing and gentle hands of your own reasons and consciences upon them. I have not given the least injurious touch to your honour, but all along pleaded for the recovery, or fecurity of it. I have exposed no man by any particular mark, or indig. nation. A
But now I have done with you; if your own consciences shall begin to make a rounder and more particular application of these general reasonings and arguments, and say to you, as Nathan to David, thou art the man; I am not accountable to God for that. But be confident of it, you are accountable to God for all those plain convictions, and faithful endeavours ufed with you, and tried upon you, to fave you from all those miseries your head-strong lusts, with furious precipitation, are manifestly running you into.
If you can substantially and solidly refel thofe arguments a. gainit, and vindicate those pleas for fin, which reason and confcience have urged and censured above; and can produce Stronger and clearer arguments, to defend and justify the courses here censured and condemned; or if you can obtain a writ of error, to remove these causes to another lawful court of judi. cature, where you shall obtain a more favourable verdiet, your complaint of severe dealing with you here, will not want some
ground or colour ; but if you cannot; (as you know you cannot) then never blame your own reasons nor mine, for dealing rigorously or injuriously with you. . .
I am willing to hope, and persuade myself, that I fhall at lcaft obtain a reformation of life from many of you. I have strove hard for it with you here : I will strive harder with God in prayer, to obtain it for you. But yet, gentlemen, I must tell you in the close, that though an external reformation of these evil courses may make your lives more healthy, happy, and durable in this world, and will greatly conduce to the public as well as your personal and private interest ; yer if you expect complete and perfect happiness in the world to come, you must advance one step further beyond reformation, unto found conversion. The first makes you comparatively happy here ; but the second will make you perfectly happy and blessed for ever hereafter. The first frees you from many temporal miferies upon earth; but the second, from eternal miseries in hell. And this brings you to the other blessed step, by conversion ; which is the second part. .
CON V ERSION TO GOD; The only Thing that makes Men truly happy, and perfectly
bleffed, in the World to come.
$ I. Conviction supposed, and grace admired. D EASON and conscience having been sharing men out of
n their profaneness, in the former part of this discourse, free grace invites them to the life of holiness, and thereby to the life of blessedness, in this second part.
There you see what it is to live like beafts; here you may ize what it is to live like Chriftiaps.
My charity commands me to suppose, that some readers. stand, by this time, convicted in their own consciences, both · of the extreme wickedness, and the immediate danger of that. profane course they have hitherto pursued, and perlifted in ; and that by this time they begin to interrogate them in the a-* postle's close and cutting language, Rom. vi. 21. “What fruit so had ye then in thofe things, whereof ye are now afhamed ? « For the end of these things is death.” It is hard to imagine, that so many close debates and reasonings, as you have heard, in the former part, should not leave many of you under convi-> &tion and trouble of spirit. You see, your own reasons and consciences have condemned you :- And if our heart con« demn us, (faith the apostle) God is greater than our heart, 6 and knoweth all things;" i John iii. 20. It is folly to in magine, you shall be acquitted at God's immediate bar, who are already cast and condemned at your own privy sessions.
If this be the happy effect, as I hope it is, of all the former close and folemn debates with your consciences, it will natural. ly and immediately cast thy foul, reader, into great admiration of, and astonishment at, the patience and long-suffering of God, that hath borne with thee, under a life of prodigious and reiterated provocations until this day. And his goodness will be as admirable to thee, as his patience ; in that he hath noc only suffered thee to live till this day, but made it the day of thy conviction, the first necessary step towards thy conversion ; and the very first things he entertains thy convinced and troubled soul with, to be the possibility and probability of thy conversion to God.
The greatness of his patience shews his almighty power, Rom. ix. 22. Nahum i. 3. but his willingness to pass by all the wrongs you have done him, and to be at peace with you, discovers the immense riches of his grace, Tit. iii. 3, 4.
That God should be so quick in the executions of his wrath upon your companions in fin, and fo patient and long-suffering towards you, that have out-finned them all ; is such a comparative consideration of his bounty, as should even over
whelm the man that beholds it. Rom. xi. 22. “Behold the : “ goodness and severity of God! on them that fell, severity; " but towards thee, goodness.” ; ; ;
If thou be that very man, who in the past course of thy life hast been a profane swearer, a beastly drunkard, a lascivious . perfon, an hater and persecutor of good men ; and after all this, the Lord hath brought an offer of mercy to thy soul, and fhall convince thee it is not come too late, but that the door of.
hope stands yet open to thee; my advice to thee is, that thou cast thyself down at the feet of mercy, and after this mannerpour forth thy laments and desires before the Lord · ! And is there yet a possibility of mercy, O Lord God, for
such a vile wretch as I have been! can the arms of free grace :6 yet open themselves to embrace such a monster of wickedness ,' as I am ? Who then is a God like unto thee? And what pati16 ence, mercy, and goodness, is like thine ? I have far exceed:: ed others in fin; I have lived the life of a beast, yea, of a de
vil. . I have dared thy dreadful, and glorious name, with
thousands of horrid blafphemies;" trampled all thy glorious ' attributes under my feet, challenged thee, to thy very face, • to do thy worst, even to damn me to the pit of hell : I have .6 yielded up this foul, with all its noble faculties and powers,
as instruments of fin unto the devil; and made this body, • which should have been the hallowed temple of thy Spirit,
to be the noisome link (or common-fewer) for all unclean
and abominable lusts, to run and settle in. I have hated, • reviled, and perfecuted those that lived more strictly, soberly, « and godly, than myself; because their convincing examples
disquieted, checked, and convicted my conscience, in the • eager pursuit of my lusts and pleasures : . I have lived in the profane neglect of prayer, meditation, < self-reflection, and all other spiritual Christian duties; think+ ing to make an atonement for all, by a few hypocritical, external formalities. .
To accomodate my carnal interest in the world, I have ( come reeking hot out of an ale-house, or whore-house, to • the table of the Lord; where, with unhallowed hands, and .a more unhallowed heart, I have crucified again the Lord
of glory, and given the vileft affront and despite to that most 2. facred and precious blood, which now must save me, or I
am lost for ever. Thus have I done ; and “ because thou 6“ keepest filent, I thought thee to be altogether such an one «« as myself: but this day halt thou reproved me, and set mine «« abominations in order before me.” ." I have tempted and seduced many others into the same « impieties with me, of whom, some are already gone down o to the dead, and others so fixed, and fully engaged in the pur. ! suit of their lufts, that there appear no signs of repentance,
or recovery in them. .. Thy wrath, Lord, foon brake forth against the angels that • finned in heaven ; yet hitherto halt thou forborn and spared sme; who have been highly provoking thee ever fince I was