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gainst sin ; but the peace of Satan is peace in sin : “ The strong man armed keeps the house, and there is all at peace.”* the saint's peace is a peace with God, but not with sin; the sinner's peace is a peace with sin ; but not with God : and this is a peace better bro. ken than kept : It is a false, a dangerous, an undoing peace; my brethren, 6 death and judgment will break all peace of conscience," but only that which is wronght by Christ in the soul, and is the fruit of the blood of sprinkling ; when he gives quietness, who can make trouble t'? Now that peace that death will break, why should you keep ? Who would be fond of that quietness which the flames of hell will burn in sunder ? and yet how many travel to hell thro’ the fool's paradise of a false peace !
O break off this peace! for we can have no peace with God in Christ, whilst this peace remains in our hearts; The Lord Christ gives no peace to them that will not seek it, and that man will never seek it that does not see his need of it ; and he that is at peace in his lusts, sees no need of the peace of Christ. The sinner must be wounded for sin, and troubled under it, before Christ will heal his wounds, and give him peace from it.
Direction 2. 66 Labour after a thorough work of conviction ;" every conviction will not do it: The almost christiani hath his convictions as well as the true christian, or else he had never gone so far ; but they are not *Luke xi. 21.
tJob xxxiv, 29.
sound and right convictions, or else he had gone farther ; God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitterness of sin, before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy. The plow of conviction must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the precious seeds of grace, and comfort there, that so it may have depth of earth to grow in. This is the constant method of God ; first to shew a man his sin, then his Saviour ; first his danger,then his Redeemer; first his wound, then his cure; first hisown vileness, then Christ's righteousness. We must be brought to cry out, “ Unclean, unclean, to mourn for him whom we have pierced," and then he sets open for us a “fountain to wash in for sin, and for uncleanness.':* That is a notable place, Job xxxiii. 17, 28, “He looked upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not : he will deliver his soul from going down into the pit, and his life shall see the light;" the sinner must see the unprofitableness of his un. righteousness, before he profit by Christ's righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the fiery serpents, and then the brazen serpent is set up. Ephraim is first thorough. ly convinced, and then God's bowels of mercy work towards him. Thus it was with Paul, Manasseh, the Jailor, &c. So that this is the unchangeable method of God in working grace, to begin with conviction of sin.
* Zacho xii. 4 ult. verses, compared with Zach. xüi. 1.
Otherefore labor for thorough convietion ; and there are three things we should especially be convinced of.
First, “ Be convinced of the evil of sin;" the filthy and heinous nature of it: this is the greatest evil in the world ; it wrongs God, it wounds Christ, it grieves the Holy Spirit, it ruineth a precious soul; all other evils are not to be named with this. My brethren, though to do sin is the worst work, yet to see sin is the best sight; for sin discovered in its vileness, makes Christ to be desired in his full
But above all, labor to be convinced of the mischief of an unsound heart ; what an abhorring it is to God, what certain ruin it brings upon the soul. O think often upon the hypocrite's hell, Matt. xiv. 15.
Secondly, “ Be convinced of the misery and desperate danger of a natural condition; for till we see the plague of our hearts, and the misery of our state by nature, we shall never be brought off ourselves to seek help in another.
Thirdly, “ Be convinced of the utter insufficiency and inability of any thing below Christ Jesus to minister relief to thy soul in this case :" All things besides Jesus Christ are physicians of no value * ;? duties, performances, prayers, tears, self righteousness, avail nothing in this case; they make us like the troops of Tema, to return 6 ashamed
Job. xiii, 4.
at our disappointment from such failing brooks*."
Alas ! it is an infinite righteousness that must satisfy for us, for it is an infinite God that is offended by us. If ever thy sin be pardoned, it is infinite mercy that must pardon it ; if ever thou be reconciled to God, it is infinite merit must do it: if ever thy heart be changed, and thy state renewed, it is infinite power must effect it ; and if ever thy soul escape hell, and be saved at last, it is infinite grace must save it.
In these three things right and sound conviction lieth ; and wherever the spirit of God worketh these thorough convictions, it is in order to a true and sound conversion; for by this means the soul is brought under a right qualification for the receiving of Christ.
You must know that a sinner, can never come to Christ ; for he is dead in sin, in enmity against Christ, an enemy to God, and the grace of God; but there are certain qualifications that come between the soul s dead state in sin, and the work of conversion and closing with Christ, whereby the soul is put into a capacity of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ : for no man is brought immediately out of his dead state, and made to believe in Jesus Christ; there are some qualifications coming in between : Now sound convictions are the right qualifications for the sinner's receiving Christ ;“ for he came not to call the
Job, vi. 19,
righteous, but sinners to repentance* ;" that is, such as see themselves sinners, and there. by in a lost condition ; so Luke exemplifies it, “ The son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost; he is anointed, and sent to bind up the broken hearted, to comfort all that mournt”.
O therefore, if you would be sound christions, get sound convictions; ask those that are believers indeed, and they will tell you, had it not been for their convictions, they had never sought after Christ for sanctification and salvation ; they will tell you, they had perished, if they had not perished; they had been in eternal bondage, but for their spiritual bondage: had they not been lost as to themselves, they had been utterly lost as to Christ,
Direction 3. “ Never rest in convictions till they end in conversion ;' this is that wherein most men miscarry, they rest in their convictions, and take them for conversion, as if sin seen were therefore forgiven, or as if a sight of the want of grace were the truth of the work of grace.
That is a notable place in Hosea xiii. 13. “ Ephraim is an unwise son, for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.” The place of the breaking forth of children is the womb : as the child comes out of the womb, so is conversion born out of the womb of conviction : Now when the child
* Matt. ix. 12, 13.
Luke ix. 10. Ișa. Ixi. 1. 2.