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one and another of them bolt in upon you, and is brutish and desperate enough to attempt to entertain a dying man with a gay story, or a profane jest, we shall see how you will relish it. We shall see, what comfort you will have in reflecting on what is past, or what hope in looking forward to what is to come. Perhaps trembling and astonished, you will then be enquiring in a wild kind of consternation, what you should do to be saved; calling for the ministers of Christ, whom you now despise for the earnestness with which they would labour to save your soul! and it may be falling into a delirium, or dying convulsions, before they can come. Or perhaps we may see you, flattering yourself through a long lingering illness, that you shall still recover, and putting off any serious reflection and conversation, for fear it should overset your spirits. And the cruel kindness of friends and physicians, as if they were in league with satan to make the destruction of your soul as sure as possible, may perhaps abet this fatal deceit.
§. 10. And if any of these probable cases happen, that is, in short, unless a miracle of grace snatch you as a brand out of the burning, when the flames have as it were already taken hold of you; all these gloomy circumstances, which pass in the chambers of illness and the bed of death, are but the forerunners of infinitely more dreadful things. Oh, who can describe them! who can imagine them! When surviving friends are tenderly mourning over the breathless corpse, and taking a fond farewell of it before it is laid to consume away in the dark and silent grave, into what hands, O sinner, will thy soul be fallen! What scenes will open upon thy separate spirit, even before thy deserted flesh be cold, or thy sightless eyes are closed? It shall then know, what it is to return to God to be rejected by him, as having rejected his gospel and his Son, and despised the only treaty of reconciliation; and that such a one, so amazingly condescending and gracious. Thou shalt know, what it is to be disowned by Christ, whom thou hast refused to entertain; and what it is, as the certain and immediate consequence of that to be left in the hands of the malignant spirits of hell. There will be no more friendship then : None to comfort, none to alleviate thy agony and distress: But on the contrary, all around thee labouring to aggravate and increase them. Thou shalt pass away the intermediate years of the separate state, in dreadful expectation, and bitter outcries of horror and remorse. And then, thou shalt hear the trumpet of the arch-angel, in whatever cavern of that gloomy world thou art lodged. Us sound shall penetrate thy prison, where, doleful and horrible as it is, thou shalt nevertheless wish, that thou mightest still be allowed to hide thy guilty head, rather then shew it before the face of that awful judge, before whom heaven and earth are fleeing away.” But thou must come forth, and be re-united to a body, now formed for ever to endure agonies, which in this mortal state would have dissolved it in a moment. You would not be persuaded to come to Christ before: You would stupidly neglect him in spite of reason, in spite of conscience, in spite of all the tenderest solicitations of the gospel, and the repeated admonitions of its most faithful ministers. But now, sinner, you shall have an interview with him; if that may be called an interview, in which you will not dare to lift up your head to view the face of your tremendous and inexorable judge. There, at least, how distant soever the time of our life and the place of our abode may have been, there shall we see how courageously your heart will endure; and how strong your hands will be when the Lord doth this.t. There shall I see thee, O reader, whoever thou art that goest on in thine impenitency, among thousands and ten thousands of despairing wretches, trembling and confounded. There shall I hearthy cries among the rest, rending the very heavens in vain. The judge will rise from his tribunal with majestic composure, and leave thee to be hurried down to those everlasting burnings, to which his righteous vengeance hath doomed thee, because thou wouldst not be saved from them. Hell shall shut its mouth upon thee for ever, and the sad echo of thy groans and outcries shall be lost amidst the hallelujahs of heaven to all that find mercy of the Lord in that day. §. 11. This will most assuredly be the end of these things: And thou, as a christian, professest to know, and to believe it. It moves my heart at least, if it moves not thine. I firmly believe, that every one, who himself obtains salvation and glory, will bear so much of his Saviour's image in wisdom and goodness, in zeal for God, and a steady regard to the happiness of the whole creation, that he will behold this sad scene with calm approbation, and without any painful commotion of mind But as yet I am flesh and blood; and therefore my bowels are troubled, and mine eyes often overflow with grief, to think that wretched sinners will have no more compassion upon their own souls; to think, that in spite of all admonition, they will obstinately run upon final everlasting destruction. It would signify nothing here to add a prayer or meditation for your use. Poor creature, you will not meditate' you will not pray ! Yet as I
have often poured out my heart in prayer over a dying friend, when the force of his distemper has rendered him incapable of joining with me ; so I will now apply myself to God for you, O unhappy creature And if you disdain so much as to read what my compassion dictates; yet I hope, they who have felt the power of the gospel on their own souls, as they cannot but pity such as you, will join with me in such cordial, though broken petitions, as these.
A Prayer in Behalf of an Impenitent Sinner, in the Case described above.
“ALMIGHTY God! with thee all things are possible := To thee therefore do I humbly apply myself in behalf of this dcar immortal soul, which thou here seest perishing in its sins, and hardening itself against that everlasting gospel, which has been the power of God to the salvation of so many thousands and millions. Thou art witness, O blessed God, thou art witness to the plainness and seriousness, with which the message has been delivered. It is in thy presence that these awful words have been written; and in thy presence have they been read. Be pleased therefore torecord it in the book of thy remembrance, that so if this wicked man dieth in his iniquity,f after the warning has been so plainly and solemnly given him, his blood may not be required at my hand, nor at the hand of that christian friend, whoever he is, by whom this book has been put into his, with a sincere desire for the salvation of his soul. Be witness, O blessed Jesus, in the day in which thou shalt judge the secrets of all hearts, t that thy gospel hath been preached to this hardened wretch, and salvation by thy blood hath been offered him, though he continue to despise it. And may thy unworthy messenger be unto God a sweet savour in Christ, in this very soul, even though it should at last perish ' “But, Oh that, after all his hardness and impenitence, thou wouldst still be pleased, by the sovereign power of thine efficacious grace, to awaken and convert him " Well do we know, Oh, thou Lord of universal nature, that he who made the soul, can cause the sword of conviction to come near and enter into it. Oh that, in thine infinite wisdom and love, thou wouldst find out a way to interpose, and save this sinner from death, from eternal death ! Oh that if it be thy blessed will, thou wouldst immediately do it: thou knowest, O God, he is a dying creature: thou knowest, that if any thing be done for him, it must be done quickly : thou seest, in the book of thy wise and gracious decrees, a moment marked, which must seal him up in an unchangeable state: Oh that thou wouldst lay hold on him, while he is yet joined with the living, and hath hope" / Thy immutable laws in the dispensation of grace forbid, that a soul should be converted and renewed after its entrance on the invisible world: O let thy sacred spirit work, while he is yet as it were within the sphere of its operations ! Work, O God, by whatever method thou pleasest; only have mercy upon him O Lord have mercy upon him, that he sink not into those depths of damnation and ruin, upon the very brink of which he so evidently appears l Oh that thou wouldst bring him, if that be necessary, and seem to thee most expedient, into any depths of calamity and distress! Oh that with Manasseh, he may be taken in the thorns, and laden with the fetters of affliction, if that may but cause him to seek the God of his fatherst.” But I prescribe not to thine infinite wisdom. Thou hast displayed thy power in glorious and astonishing instances; which I thank thee, that I have so circumstantially known, and by the knowledge of them have been fortified against the rash confidence of those who weakly and arrogantly pronounce that to be impossible, which is actually done. Thou hast, I know, done that by a single thought in retirement, when the happy man reclaimed by it hath been far from means, and far from ordinances, which neither the most awful admonitions, nor the most tender intreatics, nor the most terrible afflictions, nor the most wonderful deliverances had been able to effect. Glorify thy name, O Lord, and glorify thy grace in the method which to thine infinite wisdom shall seem most expedient' Only grant, I beseech thee, with all humble submission to thy will, that this sinner may be saved' or if not, that the labour of this part may not be altogether in vain; but that if some reject it to their aggravated ruin, others may hearken and live | That those thy servants, who have laboured for their deliverance and happiness, may view them in the regions of glory, as the spoils with which thou hast honoured them as the instruments of recovering ; and may join with them in the hallelujahs of heaven to him who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us, of condemned rebels, and accursed polluted sinners, kings and priests unto God; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever! Ament.”
* Mat. xix. 26. # Ezek. xxxiii. 8, 9. 1 Rom. ii. 16. || 2 Cor. ii. 15.
An Address to a Soul so overwhelmed with a Sense of the Greatness of its Sins, that it dares not apply itself to Christ with any Hope of Salvation.
The Case described at large, §. 1—I. As it frequently occurs, §. 5. Granting all that the dejected Soul charges on itself, §. 6. The Invitations and Promises of Christ give Hope, §. 7. The Reader urged., under all his Burdens and Fears, to an humble Application to him, §. S. Which is accordingly exemplified in the concluding Reflection and Prayer.
§. 1. A HAVE now done with those unhappy creatures who despise the gospel, and with those who neglect it. With pleasure do I now turn myself to those, who will hear me with more regard. Among the various cases, which now present themselves to my thoughts, and demand my tender, affectionate, respectful care, there is none more worthy of compassion, than that which I have mentioned in the title of this chapter; none which requires a more immediate attempt of relief.
§. 2. It is very possible some afflicted creature may be ready to cry out, "it is enough: aggravate my grief, and my distress no more. The sentence you have been so awfully describing, as what shall be passed and executed on the impenitent and unbelieving, is my sentence; and the terrors of it are my terrors. For mine iniquities are gone up unto the heavens, and my transgressions have reached unto the clouds*. My case is quite singular. Surely there never was so great a sinner as I. I have received so many mercies, have enjoyed so many advantages, I have heard so many invitations of gospel grace; and yet my heart has been so hard, and my nature is so exceeding sinful, and the number and aggravating circumstances of my provocations have been such, that I dare not hope. It is enough, that God hath supported me thus long; it is enough, that after so many years of wickedness, I am yet out of hell. Every day's reprieve is a mercy, at which I am astonished. I lie down, and wonder that death and damnation have not seized me in my walks the day past. I arise and wonder, that my bed hath not been my grave: wonder that my soul is not separated from flesh, and surrounded with devils and damned spirits."
§. 3. I have indeed heard the message of salvation; but alas, it seems no message of salvation to me. There are happy
* Rev. xviii. 5.