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act but as we are acted, tho' in a way agreeable to the rational nature: and should God cease to work, or withdraw the influences of his Spirit, the soul would be like a (hip at sea without a gale of wind, never like to reach its desired haven. Who can think of their dependance upon the divine grace in every step they take in the way to the kingdom of heaven, and not tremble at the bare supposition of being deprived of it, before they are got home. (2.) It may be, we long neglected to work out our salvation, and refused to receive assisting grace, before we could be prevailed with to set about it: and how justly may the divine influence be with^ drawn or denied, when needed., which we have so often forfeited, and rendered ourselves unworthy of? Now, sense of this should hasten, not damp our endeavours for the future, to comply, and heartily concur with the assisting grace of God in working out our salvation.
(3.) We have deceitful treacherous hearts, prone by sloth, and very direct opposition too, to grieve the blessed Spirit of God, when it moveth us to work as we ought in the business of our salvation: and if we turn back from God a while longer, how soon may we be forsaken of it.
(4.) How much is to be done, not only to begin, but to compleat our salvation after it is begun? As often as the sinner looks into his dark mind, his perverse will, his corrupt heart; O the concern he sees reason for, lest all should not be finished in the time allotted.
(5.) The time for all this is uncertain and short. How much is to be done, and how fast is the season for this going away? how soon will it be over. and it may be, much sooner than we are aware of?
(6.) The ( (6.) The blessedness is unspeakable that salvation takes in.which may well fill the foul with concern, lest it mould come short of it; as it certainly will, mould God cease to work: and he is at liberty as to this, working to will and to do, of his good pleasure.
(7.) Their cafe is most dreadful, who by withstanding it in its season of working upon them, forfeit and lose the divine grace and help; and so instead of securing their salvation, fall at last into perdition. What remains, is the Application.
And here, 1. What a view does this give us of the stupidity in which sinners are involved, in that when salvation is needed by them all, so few have any concern about it. Salvation to be wrought out for him, speaks the sinner in a very deplorable state now, and in danger of a worse. Much is to be done in order to his being saved; and without it, he is eternally lost. But how small is their number who bestir themselves in this important affair? In what deep security are many buried, minding nothing less than the business of their salvation; and yet, in the neglect of this, have nothing to expect but endless misery for their portion?
How sad is such a case as this, and how affecting should it be to us, to have before our eyes the prospect of multitudes upon the brink of destruction, and doing no more to their escape, than if they were in no danger? How many sink secure into the place of torment, from whence there is no redemption?
2. How great a mercy is the gospel, and how great their privilege who live under it? O the mercy to have our lot cast where we may read and hear of the grace that bringeth salvation, that
yet it'may be had, and of the way we are to take jn order to tpjt l.O.me difference put between us and apostate .angels, and between us and many obstinate sinners, who once lived under the fame gospel with us, where they heard of salvation, but making light of it,; are now removed and fallen under greater condemnation.
3. As the command in the text intimates God's, desire of sinners salvation, how reasonable must it be in those to whom it is sent, to give way to despair? Why should I throw up all hope of reaching what God has declared himself so willing I should reach? Whilst such a command continues, despair must be a sin, and hope a duty; as despair stops all endeavours and so tends to destruction, but hope is the spring of all we do in working out our salvation j upon . which account we are said to he saved by hope, Rom. viii. 24.
He that has bid us to work out pur salvation, has, by that very order, bid us admit and nourish hope concerning it; hope that what we do in obedience to him, and dependance upon him, shall not be in vain.
When I have God's warrant, why should I despair of his help? I own that I am a lost and perishing creature, but have heard that God delighteth not in the death of sinners, but would rather that they should come to the knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved: and in order to it this is his voice in the gospel, work out your salvation. And tho' I have too long delayed; yet this command being still repeated, leaves some ground of hope.
Say not therefore the accepted time is over, the
day of salvation at an end: had we endeavoured the working out our salvation formerly, there was hope in our case; but now God will work no more, encourage no farther. How bold and daring must it be, to set bounds to the grace of God, where he himself sets none? how much presumption is carried in this kind of despair, for a creature to take upon him to limit the almighty, and say, so far he can, or will go, and no farther? How much more reasonable is it from the command speaking his desire of sinner salvation, to set about what he enjoins in order to it, and whilst our duty is so plain, never to throw up our hope of his gracious help? - 4. How inexcusable will they be who finally perish under the gospel, by which salvation is revealed, and the best helps vouchsafed in order to it; God, who enjoins us to work out our salvation, being ready to work in us to will and to do? With what confusion will every such soul be filled, considering, what salvation includes; in how clear a light it was set, and who commanded them to work out their salvation; considering, how often the command was repeated, and how strongly urged, Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of sahation, to day if ye ivill hear his voice, harden not your hearts, (Heb. iii. if.) and considering, that under all these the spirit was striving with them. The remembrance of this will leave the lost sinner no plea to make, who is found self-destroyed, although God was so ready to help.
Here therefore, before it be too late, let me apply myself to such as have hitherto made it none of their concern, to work out their salvation. It is fad there should be any such, and the
more so, as it is too plain and common to be denied. Such a temper how light soever made of, is matter at once of wonder and lamentation : For,
(1.) Men cannot without doing violence to themselves, be unconcerned whether they are saved or not. We cannot but be convinced that we carry about with us immortal fouls, that are made for eternity, and passing to it; fouls that must live forever, but not here. This is what we profess to believe. Now, what violence must they offer to themselves, who can't but be conscious of their being on their way to an everlasting state, and yet are unconcerned what will become of them there?
(2.) What can more debase the human nature, than to live without concern as to our eternal salvation? To be passing by death to judgment, and to have no solicitude, to what state the removing soul must so soon be determined?
(3.) What guilt does this involve in it, to be unconcerned about our salvation under the express command to work it out! As the divine law is thus violated, the lawgiver can't but be greatly provoked and his wrath from heaven be ready to be revealed.
Let me therefore intreat sinners, whose consciences tell them this is their cafe, presently to awake and set about the one thing necessary, the working out of their salvation. Let the time past of life suffice you, wherein you have forgotten God and your souls; served the world, the flesh and the devil; increased your guilt and corruption, and fitted yourselves for destruction. O sinner, it is high time to change thy workand way, and use as much diligence to lave thy foul, and make sure of hea