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so probably be rescued out of his hands, and put for ever out
of his power.
2. Let me advise you to “ break off every thing which is con
trary to such impressions as these."
Sin will immediately appear to have been your disease and your ruin ; and therefore, if ever you hope for recovery, you must resolutely break with that; not merely with this or that particular evil, but with every sin ; and that only for a little while, but entirely and for ever. A mortal irreconcileable war must be declared against it. Every fleshly lust must be denied ; every immoral practice, for which your heart may at any time smite you, must be reformed ; and if ever you expect to reap mercy and life, you must, as the prophet expresses it, Break up your fallow ground, and not sow among thorns*. For Righteousness has no fellowship with unrighteousness, and light no communion with darknesst. And you may be assured, that as all sin grieves the Spirit of God, and strengthens the heavy fetters which lie upon the soul; so those sins which are committed after these awakenings and convictions, have a peculiar guilt attending them, and Do greater despite to the spirit of graces, in proportion to the degree in which his motions on the soul have been vigorous and warm. 3. “ Seek further knowledge," especially from the word and
ordinances of God.
The influences of divine grace are not to be considered as a blind impulse; but God's spirit works on the spirit of man, as one rational being on another. The apostle therefore puts the question with great reason, How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard$ ? And as some knowledge is the foundation on which the Spirit of God ordinarily operates in men's hearts ; so in proportion to the degree in which you attain farther light into the scheme of the gospel, and of salvation by Christ, it may be expected you will be more impressed by it. The mention of this is so much the more necessary, as mistaken notions of religion often expose people, on the one hand, to great perplexities, and on the other, betray them into peace,
which one way or another will be bitterness in the end.--Come therefore to the house of God, and attend spiritual preaching. The question is not about forms, but things. Be not therefore over scrupulous about what is merely circumstantial in religion, on the one hand, or the other : But where you find most spiritual light and improvement, there choose generally to attend ; not confining religion to any particular party, nor judging those who differ from you in their sentiment or practice; but calmly and humbly seeking your own edification, leaving others to seek theirs where they are persuaded in the sight of God they may most probably find it.-Above all, remember in this circumstance to make the word of God the man of your counsel *, and to judge of what you read and hear by the tenor of that, as the oracle of eternal truth ; always attending the reading of it with earnest prayer to God for the illumination of his spirit, as I shall afterward more particularly direct.-No other books are to be set up in opposition to this, or in comparison with it; yet let it be your care, in subordination to scripture, to study the writings of those faithful servants of God in latter ages, who themselves manifest a sense of practical religion. Especially endeavour to find out and peruse those writings which treat of conversion and regeneration, and which contain advice suited to your case.
* Jer. iv. 3. Hos. x. 12.
+ 2 Cor. vi. 14.
| Heb. x. 29.
$ Rom. x, 14.
Blessed be God our language abounds with such; and every truly christian minister will be glad to direct you to them, and so far as he has a convenient opportunity, to furnish you with them. 4.“ Pour out your soul before God in earnest prayer."
You cannot be unacquainted with the many promises God has made in scripture for the encouragement of those who de sire to pray to him in the sincerity of their hearts. You know into how little a compass Christ has crowded together three equivalent promises ; Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto yout : And you cannot but remember the threefold encouragement, from the success of those who have recourse to this expedient, which he has added in the most express and general terms : For every one that asketh, receiveth : and he that seeketh, findeth : and to him that knocketh, it shall be openedi. Go therefore in a cheerful dependance upon his promise : Go, and try the truth of it. -Whither should a creature in such circumstances go, but to that God, who has The hearts of all in his hand as the rivers of water, and turns them whithersoever he will ? And who should go to him, rather than you And in what cir. cumstances should a distressed creature rather think of looking and crying to him, than in these ; where it sees itself surrounded with so much danger, and yet feels an inward earnest desire, not only of deliverance, but of holiness too?-Go therefore, and cast yourself at the feet of God this very evening; do it as soon as you return to your habitations: and if you cannot put your thoughts and desires into words, at least sigh and groan before the Lord. Mourn, if you cannot pray; and mourn that you cannot ; or rather be assured that unutterable groanings have sometimes the greatest efficacy, and prove the most prevailing eloquence.
* Psal. cxix. 24.
Prov. xxi. 1.
+ Mat. vii. 7.
It will be no wonder at all, if in these circumstances Satan should endeavour to terrify you. It is his common practice. So many souls have vanquished him upon their knees, that he dreads and hates the posture : But draw an argument from that very opposition to make you so much the more eager and importunate ; and When your heart is overwhelmed within you, fly unto the rock that is higher than you *.
I will add, be not discouraged, though help be not immediately imparted. Though you may seem to be Cast out of God's sight, yet look again towards his holy temple + : Though you seem to Cry from the deeps, and almost from the belly of hell [, the bowels of a heavenly Father will yearn over you as returning prodigals; and I doubt not you will meet with the reception that Ephraim found, when God saw him bemoaning and humbling himself, because he had been as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke ; when he cried, turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my God; his heavenly Father answers him in these most affectionate words; attend to them, O thou returning sinner, for thy comfort in this hour of distress ! Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him, and I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord ş. 5. I would advise you farther, that you “ immediately com
municate the state of your case to some experienced Christian.”
I know there is a backwardness in persons of your circumstances to do it; and it has been surprizing to me to learn from the converse of some, who in this respect have afterwards grown wiser, how long they have been pining away in their sorrows before they could be persuaded to consult theki ministers or christian friends. It is a stratagem of Satan, against which I would by all means caution you. And one would think your
* Psal. Ixi. 2.
+ Jonah ii. 4.
§ Jer. xxxi. 18, 20.
own reason should suggest some very obvious advantages, attending the method I propose, of opening your case freely to those, whom you think to be more experienced in these things. The impression may be revived upon your own souls, even by the account you give them : And their advice may be exceeding useful to you to guard you against the wiles of the enemy which they have known, though hitherto you are strangers to them; and to guide you into such methods, as, by the divine blessing, may farther promote that good work which seems in any measure to have been begun within you. You may also depend upon it that it will engage their prayers for you; which in this case may have great prevalency. And it will also naturally lead them to inspect your conduct; and if they see you afterwards in danger of being drawn aside, they may remind you of the hopes once entertained, and the impressions once made upon your mind.-In this respect you may hope, that by Walking with wise men you will be yet wiser* : and will soon find how happy an exchange you make, when you give up your vain, and perhaps wicked companions, that you may become the Companion of them that fear God, and that keep his preceptst; and may have your Delight in them, who in the judgment of God are the excellent of the earthi, however they may be despised and derided by men.” 6. I would also advise, that you“ endeavour to search out those,
if there be any such about or near you, who are much in your own circumstances.”
Observe, especially among young people, whether there are any that seem of late to have grown more serious than ordinary ; and particularly more constant in attending the ordinances of God, and more cautious in venturing on occasions and temptations to sin : And if you can discover such, endeavour to form an acquaintance with them. Try by pro. per hints how far their circumstances resemble yours ; you find encouragement, enter into a stricter friendship with them, founded on religion, and intended to promote it in each others hearts. Associate yourselves in little bands for christian converse and prayer; and by this means you will quicken, and strengthen the hearts of each other. For on the one hand, what they tell you of their own experience, will much confirm you in a persuasion that what you find in yourselves is not a mere fancy, but is really a divine work begun on your hearts, and will give you encouragement to pursue it as such ; for As face answers to face in water, so does the heurt of man to man* : And on the other hand, the observation of your pious zeal will quicken others, and may occasion the revival of religion in the hearts of elder christians ; as, I bless God, I have found some things of this kind have done, and hope, and through the divine blessing expect, to find it more and more. Therefore Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sint, Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees 1: And be assured, that while you are endeavouring to help others, you will find in yourselves the first-fruits of this happy attempt : and while you IVater others, you will be watered also yourselves ş. 7. It is an advice of the highest importance, that whoever you
* Prov. xiii. 20.
+ Psal. cxix, 63.
* Psal. xvi. 3.
are, you should immediately fly to Christ, and repose the confidence of your souls upon him."
Observe that I urge you, whoever you are, to fly immediately to Christ : And this I do, to guard against a strange notion which some are ready to entertain, as if we were to bring something of our own righteousness and obedience to him to render us worthy of being accepted by him. But this is a grand mis. take. The blessings of the gospel are not to be considered as matter of bargain and sale : No, if we Come to buy wine and milk, it must be without money and without pricell : and Whoever will take of the water of life, must do it freely!. If he pretend to offer an equivalent, he forfeits his share in the invi. tation ; and must be made to know, that the price he offers is a great affront to the value of the blessings for which he would thus barter.---Let this then be your language, “ Lord, I have undone myself, and in me is no help: I see nothing in myself which makes me worthy of thy regard ; but this I know, that Where sin has abounded, grace does much more abound, and reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ**; through whom, thou hast assured me in thy word, that Eternal life is the gift of Godtt. As such let me receive it: and by how much the more undeserving I have been, by so much the more will I celebrate the riches of thy grace in making me a vessel of mercy, and a monument of love throughout all eternity.-Blessed Jesus, thou hast said, that Him who comes unto thee,
* Prov. xxvii. 19.
+ Heb. iii. 13.
Isai. xxxv. 3.
Ś Prov. xi. 25.