It maybe you are ready to say, 'What does this stir mean?’ and are apt to wonder
why I follow you with such earnestness, still ringing the same lesson in your ears,
that you should repent and be converted. But I must say to you, as Ruth to Naomi,
'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee.' Were it a
matter of indifference, might you be saved as you are, I would gladly let you alone;
but would you not have me concerned for you, when I see you ready to perish? As the
Lord liveth, before whom I am, I have not the least hope of seeing your face in heaven,
except you be converted. I utterly despair of your salvation, except you will be
prevailed with thoroughly to turn and give up yourself to God in holiness and newness
of life. Has God said, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God',
and yet do you wonder why your ministers labour so earnestly for you? Do not think
it strange that I am earnest with you to follow after holiness, and long to see the
image of God upon you. Never did any, nor shall any, enter into heaven by any other
way but this. The conversion described is not a high attainment of some advanced
Christians, but every soul that is saved undergoes this change.
It was a saying of the noble Roman when he was hasting with corn to the city in the
famine and the mariners were loath to set sail in foul weather, 'It is necessary
for us to sail — it is not necessary for us to live.' What is it that you count necessary?
Is your bread necessary? Is your breath necessary? Then your conversion is much more
necessary. Indeed, this is the one thing necessary. Your possessions are not necessary;
you may sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase.
Your life is not necessary; you may part with it for Christ, to infinite advantage.
Your reputation is not necessary; you may be reproached for the name of Christ, and
yet be happy; yes, you maybe much more happy in reproach than in repute. But your
conversion is necessary; your salvation depends upon it; and is it not needful in
so important a matter to take care? On this one point depends your making or marring
to all eternity.
But I shall more particularly show the necessity of conversion in five things.
1: Without conversion your being is in vain.
Is it not a pity you should be good for nothing, an unprofitable burden of the earth,
a mere wart in the body of the universe? Thus you are, while unconverted, for you
cannot answer the end of your being. Is it not for the divine pleasure that you are
and were created? Did not God make you for Himself? Are you a man, and have you reason?
Then, think how you came into being and why you exist. Behold God's workmanship in
your body, and ask yourself for what purpose did God rear this fabric? Consider the
noble faculties of your heaven-born soul. To what end did God bestow these excellencies?
Was it to no other end than that you should please yourself, and gratify your senses
? Did God send men into the world, only like the swallows, to gather a few sticks
and mud, and build their nests, and rear up their young, and then away? The very
heathen could see farther than this. Are you so fearfully and wonderfully made',
and do you not yet reason with yourself — surely, it was for some noble and exalted
O man! set your reason a little in the chair. Is it not a pity such a goodly fabric
should be raised in vain? Verily you are in vain, except you are for God. It were
better you had no being than not be for Him. Would you serve your end? You must repent
and be converted; without this you are to no purpose; indeed, to bad purpose.
You are to no purpose. Unconverted man is like a choice instrument that has every
string broken or out of tune. The Spirit of the living God must repair and tune it
by the grace of regeneration, and sweetly move it by the power of actuating grace,
or else your prayers will be but howlings, and all your service will make no music
in the ears of the Most Holy. All your powers and faculties are so corrupt in your
natural state that, except you be purged from dead works, you cannot serve the living
God. An unsanctified man cannot work the work of God.
He has no skill in it. He is altogether as unskillful in the work as in the word
of righteousness. There are great mysteries in the practice as well as in the principles
of godliness. Now the unregenerate do not know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
You may as well expect him to read that never learned the alphabet, or look for goodly
music on the lute from one that never set his hand to an instrument, as that a natural
man should do the Lord any pleasing service. He must first be taught of God On A
45), taught to pray (Lk xi 1), taught to profit (Is xlviii 17), taught to go (Hos
xi 3), or else he will be utterly at a loss.
He has no strength for it. How weak is his heart! (Ezek xvi 3O). He is soon tired.
The Sabbath, what a weariness is it! (Mal. i 13). He is without strength (Rom v 6),
yea, dead in sin (Eph ii 5).
He has no mind to it. He desires not the knowledge of God's ways (Job xxi 14). He
does not know them, and he does not care to know them (Ps lxxxii 5). He knows not,
neither will he understand.
He has neither due instruments nor materials for it. A man may as well hew the marble
without tools, or paint without colours or brushes, or build without materials, as
perform any acceptable service without the graces of the Spirit, which are both the
materials and instruments in the work. Almsgiving is not a service of God but of
vain-glory, if it does not spring from love to God. What is the prayer of the lips
without grace in the heart, but the carcase without life? What are all our confessions,
unless they are exercises of godly sorrow and unfeigned repentance? What are our
petitions, unless animated with holy desires and faith in the attributes and promises
of God? What are our praises and thanksgiving, unless they spring from the love of
God, and a holy gratitude and sense of God's mercies in the heart? So that a man
may as well expect that trees should speak, or look for motion from the dead, as
look for any service, holy and acceptable to God, from the unconverted. When the
tree is evil, how can the fruit be good?
Also, without conversion you live to bad purpose. The unconverted soul is a very
cage of unclean birds (Rev xviii 2), a sepulchre full of corruption and rottenness
(Mt xxiii 27), a loathsome carcase full of crawling worms, and sending forth a most
noxious stench in the nostrils of God (Ps xiv 3). O dreadful case! Do you not yet
see a change to be needful? Would it not have grieved one to see the golden consecrated
vessels of God's temple turned into quaffing bowls of drunkenness, and polluted with
the idol's service? (Dan v 2-3). Was it such an abomination to the Jews when Antiochus
setup the picture of a swine at the entrance of the temple? How much more abominable,
then, would it have been to have had the very temple itself turned into a stable
or a sty; and to have had the holy of holies served like the house of Baal! This
is just the case of the unregenerate. All your members are turned into instruments
of unrighteousness, servants of Satan, and your inmost heart into a receptacle of
uncleanness. You may see what kind of guests are within by what come out; for, 'out
of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false
witness, blasphemies' (Mt xv 19). This black troop shows what a hell there is within.
O abuse insufferable! to see a heaven-born soul abased to such vileness; to see the
glory of God's creation, the chief of the works of God, the lord of this lower world,
eating husks with the prodigal! Was it such a lamentation to see those that did feed
delicately sit desolate in the streets; and the precious sons of Zion, comparable
to fine gold, esteemed as earthen pitchers; and those that were clothed in scarlet
embrace dunghills? (Lam iv 2, 5). And is it not much more fearful to see the only
being that has immortality in this lower world and carries the stamp of God, become
as a vessel wherein is no pleasure, and be put to the most sordid use? O indignity
intolerable! Better you were dashed in a thousand pieces, than continue to be abased
to so vile a service.
2: Not only man, but the whole visible creation is in vain without conversion. God
has made all the visible creatures in heaven and earth for the service of man, and
man only is the spokesman for all the rest. Man is, in the world, like the tongue
to the body, which speaks for all the members. The other creatures cannot praise
their Maker, except by dumb signs and hints to man that he should speak for them.
Man is, as it were, the high priest of God's creation, to offer the sacrifice of
praise for all his fellow-creatures. The Lord God expects a tribute of praise from
all His works. Now, all the rest do bring in their tribute to man, and pay it by
his hand. So then, if a man is false, and faithless, and selfish, God is robbed of
all, and has no active glory from His works.
O dreadful thought! that God should build such a world as this, and lay out such
infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness thereupon, and all in vain; and that man
should be guilty, at last, of robbing and spoiling Him of the glory of all! O think
of this. While you are unconverted, all the offices of the creatures are in vain
to you. Your food nourishes you in vain. The sun holds forth its light to you in
vain. Your clothes warm you in vain. Your beast carries you in vain. Ina word, the
unwearied labour and continued travail of the whole creation, as to you, are in vain.
The service of all the creatures that drudge for you, and yield forth their strength
unto you, with which you should serve their Maker, is all but lost labour. Hence,
'the whole creation groaneth' (Rom viii 22) under the abuse of unsanctified men who
pervert all things to the service of their lusts, quite contrary to the very end
of their being.
3: Without conversion your religion is vain. All your religious performances will
be but lost; for they can neither please God nor save your soul, which are the very
ends of religion (Rom viii 8; 1 Cor xiii 2-3). Be your services ever so specious,
yet God has no pleasure in them (Is i 14; Mal i 1O). Is not that man's case dreadful
whose sacrifices are as murders, and whose prayers are a breath of abomination? (Is
lxvi 3; Prov xxviii 9). Many under conviction think they will set upon mending, and
that a few prayers and alms will set all right again; but alas, sirs, while your
hearts remain unsanctified your duties will not pass. How punctilious was Jehu! and
yet all was rejected because his heart was not upright (2 Kgs x with Hos i 4). How
blameless was Paul! and yet, being unconverted, all was but loss (Phil iii 6-7).
Men think they do much in attending to God's service, and are ready to set Him down
so much their debtor; whereas their persons being unsanctified, their duties cannot
O soul! do not think when your sins pursue you, that a little praying and reforming
your ways will pacify God. You must begin with your heart. If that is not renewed,
you can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should
bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire,
should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you.
It is a great misery to labour in the fire. The poets could not invent a worse hell
for Sisyphus than to be ever toiling to get the stone up the hill, and then that
it should presently roll down again and renew his labour. God threatens it as the
greatest temporal judgments, that they should build and not inhabit, plant and not
gather, and that their labours should be eaten up by strangers (Dent xxviii 3O, 38-41).
Is it so great a misery to lose our common labours, to sow in vain, and to build
in vain? How much more to lose our pains in religion - to pray, and hear, and fast
in vain! This is an undoing and eternal loss. Be not deceived; if you go on in your
sinful state, though you should spread forth your hands, God will hide His eyes;
though you make many prayers, He will not hear (Is i 15). If a man without skill
set about our work, and spoil it in the doing, though he take much pains, we give
him but small thanks. God will be worshipped after the due order. If a servant do
our work, but quite contrary to our order, he shall have stripes rather than praise.
God's work must be done according to God's mind, or He will not be pleased; and this
cannot be, except it be done with a holy heart.
4: Without true conversion your hopes are in vain. 'The hope of the hypocrite shall
perish' (Job viii 12-13). 'The Lord bath rejected thy confidences' (Jer ii 37).
The hope of comfort here is vain. It is not only necessary for the safety, but comfort
of your condition, that you be converted. Without this, you shall not know peace
(Is lix 8). Without the fear of God you cannot have the comfort of the Holy Ghost
(Acts ix 31). God speaks peace only to His people and to His saints (Ps lxxxv 8).
If you have a false peace continuing in your sins it is not of God's speaking, and
therefore you may guess the author. Sin is a real sickness (Is i 5), yea, the worst
of sickness; it is a leprosy in the head (Lev xiii 44); the plague in the heart (1
Kgs viii 38); it is brokenness in the bones (Ps li 8); it pierces, it wounds, it
racks, it torments (1 Tim vi 1O). A man may as well expect ease when his diseases
are in their full strength, or his bones out of joint, as true comfort while in his
O wretched man, that can have no ease in this case but what comes from the deadliness
of the disease! You shall have the poor sick man saying in his wildness, he is well;
when you see death in his face, he would be up and about his business, when the very
next step is likely to be to his grave. The unsanctified often see nothing amiss;
they think themselves whole, and cry not for the physician; but this only shows the
danger of their case.
Sin naturally breeds diseases and disturbances in the soul. What a continual tempest
is there in a discontented mind! What a corroding evil is inordinate care! What is
passion but a very fever in the mind? What is lust but a fire in the bones? What
is pride but a deadly dropsy? or covetousness but an insatiable and insufferable
thirst? or malice and envy but venom in the very heart? Spiritual sloth is but a
scurvy in the mind, and carnal security a mortal lethargy. How can that soul have
true comfort which is under so many diseases? But converting grace cures, and so
eases the mind, and prepares the soul for a settled, standing, immortal peace. 'Great
peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them' (Ps cxix 165).
They are the ways of wisdom that afford pleasure and peace (Prov iii 17). David had
infinitely more pleasure in the Word than in all the delights of his court (Ps cxix
103, 127). The conscience cannot be truly pacified until soundly purified (Heb x
22). Cursed is that peace which is maintained in a way of sin (Dent xxix 19-20).
Two sorts of peace are more to be dreaded than all the troubles in the world: peace
with sin, and peace in sin.
The hope of salvation hereafter is in vain. This hope is most injurious to God, most
pernicious to yourself. There is death, despair, and blasphemy in this hope.
There is death in it. Your confidence shall be rooted out of your tabernacles, God
will up with it root and branch; it will bring you to the king of terrors (Job xviii
14). Though you may lean upon this house, it will not stand, but will prove like
a ruinous building which, when a man trusts to it, falls down about him (Job viii
There is despair in it. 'Where is the hope of the hypocrite when God taketh away
his soul?' (Job xxvii 8). Then there is an end for ever of his hope. Indeed, the
hope of the righteous has an end, but it is not a destructive, but a perfective end.
His hope ends in fruition, others in frustration. The godly may say at death, 'It
is finished'; but the wicked, 'It is perished', and may earnestly bemoan himself,
as Job did, though mistakenly, in his case, 'Where now is my hope? He bath destroyed
me; I am gone, and my hope is removed like a tree' (Job xix 10). 'The righteous hath
hope in his death' (Prov xiv 32). When nature is dying, his hopes are living; when
his body is languishing, his hopes are flourishing; his hope is a living hope, but
others a dying, yea, a damning, soul-undoing hope. 'When a wicked man dieth, his
expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perisheth' (Prov xi 7). It shall
be cut off and prove like a spider's web (Job viii 14) which he spins out of his
own bowels; but then comes death and destroys all, and so there is an eternal end
of his confidence in which he trusted. 'The eyes of the wicked shall fail and their
hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost' (Job xi 20). Wicked men are fixed in
their carnal hope, and will not be beaten out of it; they hold it fast, they will
not let it go, but death will knock off their fingers. Though we cannot undeceive
them, death and judgment will. When death strikes his dart through your liver, it
will ruin your soul and your hopes together. The unsanctified have hope only in
this life, and therefore are of all men most miserable. When death comes, it lets
them out into the amazing gulf of endless despair.
There is blasphemy in it. To hope we shall be saved, though continuing unconverted,
is to hope that we shall prove God a liar. He has told you that, merciful and compassionate
as He is, He will never save you notwithstanding, if you go on in a course of ignorance
or unrighteousness. Ina word, He has told you that whatever you are or do, nothing
shall avail you to salvation unless you become new creatures. Now, to say God is
merciful and to hope that He will save us without conversion, is in effect to say,
'We hope that God will not do as He says.' We must not set God's attributes at variance.
God has resolved to glorify His mercy, but not to the prejudice of His truth, as
the presumptuous sinner will find to his everlasting sorrow.
Objection: But we hope in Jesus Christ, we put our whole trust in God, and therefore
do not doubt that we shall be saved.
Answer: This is not hope in Christ, but hope against Christ. To hope to see the kingdom
of God without being born again, to hope to find eternal life in the broad way, is
to hope Christ will prove a false prophet. David's plea is, V hope in thy word' (Ps
cxix 81). But this hope is against God's Word. Show me a word of Christ for your
hope that He will save you in your ignorance or profane neglect of His service, and
I will never try to shake your confidence.
God rejects this hope with abhorrence. Those condemned by the prophet went on in
their sins; yet, says the prophet, 'will they lean upon the Lord' (Mic iii 11). God
will not endure to be made a prop to men in their sins. The Lord rejected those presumptuous
sinners that went on still in their trespasses and yet would stay themselves on Israel's
God, as a man would shake off the briers that cleave to his garment.
If your hope is worth anything, it will purify you from your sins (1 Jn iii 3), but
cursed is that hope which cherishes men in their sins.
Objection: Would you have us despair?
Answer: You must despair of ever coming to heaven as you are, that is, while unconverted.
You must despair of ever seeing the face of God without holiness. But you must by
no means despair of finding mercy upon your thorough repentance and conversion. Neither
may you despair of attaining to repentance and conversion in the use of God's means.
5: Without conversion all that Christ has done and suffered will be, as to you, in
vain. That is, it will in no way avail you to salvation. Many urge this as a sufficient
ground for their hope, that Christ died for sinners; but I must tell you, Christ
never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners, so continuing. A great divine
was accustomed in his private dealings with souls to ask two questions. What has
Christ done for you? What has Christ wrought in you? Without the application of the
Spirit in regeneration, we have no saving interest in the benefits of redemption.
I tell you from the Lord, that Christ Himself cannot save you if you go on in this
To save men in their sins would be against His trust. The Mediator is the servant
of the Father, shows His commission from Him, acts in His name, and pleads His command
for His justification (Jn x 18, 36; Jn vi 38, 40). God has committed all things to
Him, entrusted His own glory and the salvation of His elect with Him (Mt xi 27; Jn
xvii 2). Accordingly, Christ gives His Father an account of both parts of His trust
before He leaves the world (Jn xvii). Now Christ would quite thwart His Father's
glory, tarnish His greatest trust, if He should save men in their sins: for this
would overturn all His counsels, and offer violence to all His attributes.
It would overturn all God's counsels, of which this is the order, that men should
be brought to salvation through sanctification (2 Thess ii 13). He has chosen them
that they should be holy (Eph i 4). They are elected to pardon and life through sanctification
(1 Pet i 2). If you can repeal the law of God's immutable counsel, or corrupt Him
whom the Father has sealed to go directly against His commission, then, and not otherwise,
you may get to heaven in this condition. To hope that Christ will save you while
unconverted, is to hope that Christ will prove false to His trust. He never did,
nor ever will save one soul but whom the Father has given Him in election, and drawn
to Him in effectual calling (Jn vi 37, 44). Be assured, Christ will save none in
a way contrary to His Father's will.
To save men in their sins would offer violence to all the attributes of God.
To His justice. The righteousness of God's judgment lies in rendering to all according
to their works. Now, should men sow to the flesh, and yet of the Spirit reap everlasting
life, where were the glory of divine justice, since it would be given to the wicked
according to the work of the righteous?
To His holiness. If God should not only save sinners, but save them in their sins,
His most pure and strict holiness would be exceedingly defaced. The unsanctified,
in the eyes of God's holiness, are worse than a swine or viper. It would be offering
the extremest violence to the infinite purity of the divine nature to have such dwell
with Him. They cannot stand in His judgment: they cannot abide His presence. If holy
David would not endure such in his house, no, nor in his sight (Ps ci 3, 7), can
we think God will? Should He take men as they are, from the mire of their filthiness
to the glory of heaven, the world would think that God was at no such great distance
from sin, nor had any such dislike to it as we are told He has. They would be ready
to conclude that God was altogether such an one as themselves, as some of old wickedly
did, from the forbearance of God (Ps l 21).
To His veracity. God has declared from heaven that if any say he shall have peace,
though he should go on in the imagination of his heart, His wrath shall smoke against
that man (Dent. xxix 19-2O). He has declared that they only that confess and forsake
their sins shall find mercy (Prov xxviii 13). He has declared that they that shall
enter into His hill must be of clean hands and a pure heart (Ps xxiv 3, 4). Where
were God's truth if, notwithstanding all this, He should bring men to salvation without
conversion? O desperate sinner, that dares to hope that Christ will make His Father
a liar and nullify His word to save yow!
To His wisdom. This were to throw away the choicest of mercies on them that would
not value them, nor were any way suited to them.
They would not value them. The unsanctified sinner puts but little price upon God's
great salvation. He thinks no more of Christ than they that are whole do of the physician.
He prizes not His balm, values not His cure, but tramples on His blood. Now, would
it stand with wisdom to force pardon and life upon those that would return no thanks
for them? Will the all-wise God, when He has forbidden us to do it, throw His holy
things to dogs and His pearls to swine, that would, as it were, but turn again and
rend Him ? This would make mercy to be despised indeed. Wisdom requires that life
be given in a way suitable to God's honour, and that God provide for the securing
of His own glory as well as man's felicity. It would be dishonourable to God to bestow
His choicest riches on them that have more pleasure in their sins than in the heavenly
delights that He offers. God would lose the praise and glory of His grace, if He
should cast it away upon them that were not only unworthy but unwilling.
Also, the mercies of God are no way suited to the unconverted. God's wisdom is seen
in suiting things to each other, the means to the end, the object to the faculty,
the quality of the gift to the capacity of the receiver. Now, if Christ should bring
the unregenerate sinner to heaven, he could take no more felicity there than a beast
would, if you should bring him into a beautiful room to the society of learned men;
whereas the poor thing had much rather be grazing with his fellows in the field.
Alas, what could an unsanctified man do in heaven? He could not be content there
because nothing suits him. The place does not suit him; he would be quite out of
his element, a fish out of water. The company does not suit him; what communion has
darkness with light? corruption with perfection? vileness and sin with glory and
immortality? The employment does not suit him; the anthems of heaven do not fit his
mouth, do not suit his ear. Can you charm a donkey with music; or will you bring
him to your organ and expect that he should make melody, or keep time with the tuneful
choir? Had he skill, he would have no will, and so could find no pleasure in it.
Spread your table with delicacies before a languishing patient, and it will be but
an offence. Alas, if the poor man think a sermon long and say of a Sabbath-day, 'What
a weariness is it!' how miserable would he think it to be engaged in an everlasting
To His immutability, or else to His omniscience or omnipotence. It is enacted in
heaven, and enrolled in the decree of the court above, that none but the pure in
heart shall see God (Mt v 8). Now, if Christ bring any to heaven unconverted, either
He must get them in without His Father's knowledge, and then where is His omniscience?
or against His will, and then where were His omnipotence? or He must change His will,
and then where were His immutability?
Sinner, will you not give up your vain hope of being saved in this condition? Bildad
says, 'Shall the earth be forsaken for thee; or the rocks be moved out of their place?'
(Job xviii 4). May I not much more reason with you? Shall the laws of heaven be reversed
for you? Shall the everlasting foundations be overturned for you? Shall Christ put
out the eye of His Father's omniscience, or shorten the arm of His eternal power
for you? Shall divine justice be violated for you; or the brightness of His holiness
be blemished for you? O the impossibility, absurdity, blasphemy, of such a confidence!
To think Christ will ever save you in this condition is to make the Saviour become
a sinner, and do more wrong to the infinite Majesty than all the wicked on earth
or devils in hell ever did, or ever could do; and yet will you not give up such a
To save men in their sins would be against the word of Christ. We need not say, 'Who
shall ascend into heaven, to bring down Christ from above? Or, who shall descend
into the deep, to bring up Christ from beneath? The word is nigh us' (Rom x 6-8).
Are you agreed that Christ shall end the controversy? Hear then His own words: 'Except
ye be converted, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.' ' Ye must
be born again.' 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me." Except ye repent ye
shall perish' (Mt xviii 3; Jn iii 7; Jn xiii 8; Lk xiii 3). One word, one would think,
were enough from Christ; but how often and earnestly does He reiterate it: 'Verily,
verily, except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God' (Jn iii
3). Yea, He not only asserts but proves the necessity of the new birth from the fleshliness
and sinfulness of man from his first birth, by reason of which man is no more fit
for heaven than the beast is for the chamber of the king. And will you yet rest in
your own presumptuous confidence, directly against Christ's words? He must go quite
against the law of His kingdom and rule of His judgment, to save you in this state.
To save men in their sins would be against the oath of Christ. He has lifted up His
hand to heaven, He has sworn that those who remain in unbelief and know not His ways
(that is, are ignorant of them, or disobedient to them) shall not enter into His
rest (Heb iii 18). And will you not yet believe, O sinner, that He is earnest? The
covenant of grace is confirmed by an oath and sealed by blood; but all must be made
void, and another way to heaven found out if you be saved, living and dying unsanctified.
God is come to His last terms with man, and has condescended as far as in honour
He could. Men cannot be saved while unconverted, except they could get another covenant
made, and the whole frame of the Gospel, which was established for ever with such
dreadful solemnities, quite altered. And must not they be demented who hope that
To save men in their sins would be against His honour. God will so show His love
to the sinner as at the same time to show His hatred to sin. Therefore, he that names
the name of Jesus must depart from iniquity and deny all ungodliness; and he that
has hope of life by Christ must purify himself as He is pure, otherwise Christ would
be thought a favourer of sin (2 Tim ii 19; Tit ii 12; 1 Jn iii 3). The Lord Jesus
would have all the world know, that though He pardons sin, He will not protect it.
If holy David say, 'Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity' (Ps vi 8), and shut
the doors against them (Ps ci 7), shall we not much more expect it from Christ's
holiness? Would it be for His honour, to have the dogs to the table, or to lodge
the swine with His children, or to have Abraham's bosom to be a nest of vipers?
To save men in their sins would be against His offices. God has exalted Him to be
a Prince and a Saviour (Acts v 31). He would act against both, should He save men
in their sins. It is the office of a king to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise
to them that do well. 'He is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him
that doeth evil' (Rom xiii 4). Now, should Christ favour the ungodly, so continuing,
and take those to reign with Him that would not that He should reign over them, this
would be quite against His office. He therefore reigns that He may put His enemies
under His feet. Now, should He lay them in His bosom, He would frustrate the end
of His regal power; it belongs to Christ, as a King, to subdue the hearts and slay
the lusts of His chosen (Ps xlv 5; Ps cx 3). What king would take rebels in open
hostility into his court? What were this but to betray life, kingdom, government,
and all together? If Christ is a King, He must have honour, homage, subjection. Now,
to save men while in their natural enmity, were to obscure His dignity, lose His
authority, bring contempt on His government, and sell His dear-bought rights for
Again, as Christ would not be a Prince, so neither a Saviour, if He should do this;
for His salvation is spiritual. He is called Jesus because He saves His people from
their sins (Mt i 21). So that, should He save them in their sins, He would be neither
Lord nor Jesus. To save men from the punishment, and not from the power of sin, were
to do His work by halves, and be an imperfect Saviour. His office as the Deliverer
is to turn ungodliness from Jacob (Rom xi 26). He is sent to bless men, in turning
them from their iniquities (Acts iii 26), to make an end of sin (Dan
ix 24). So that He would destroy His own designs, and nullify His offices, to save
men in their unconverted state.
Arise then! What meanest thou, O sleeper? Awake, O secure sinner, lest you be consumed
in your iniquities: say, as the lepers, 'If we sit here, we shall die' (2 Kgs vii
3-4). Verily, it is not more certain that you are now out of hell than that you shall
speedily be in it, except you repent and be converted. There is but this one door
for you to escape by. Arise then, O sluggard, and shake off your excuses; how long
will you slumber and fold your hands to sleep? Will you lie down in the midst of
the sea, or sleep on the top of a mast? (Prov xxiii 34). There is no remedy, but
you must either turn or bum. There is an unchangeable necessity of the change of
your condition, unless you have resolved to abide the worst of it, and try it out
with the Almighty. If you love your life, O man, arise and come away. I think I see
the Lord Jesus laying the merciful hands of a holy violence upon you; I think He
acts tike the angels to Lot: 'Then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, lest thou
be consumed. And, while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, the Lordbeing
merciful unto him; and they brought him without the city, and said, Escape for thy
life, staynot in all the plain; escape to the mountains, lest thou be consumed'
(Gen xix 15-17).
O how willful will your destruction be if you should yet harden yourself in your
sinful state! But none of you can say that you have not had fair warning. Yet I cannot
leave you so. It is not enough for me to have delivered my own soul. What! I go away
without my errand? Will none of you arise and follow me? Have I been all this while
speaking to the wind? Have I been charming the deaf adder, or allaying the restless
ocean with argument? Do I speak to the trees and rocks, or to men? to the tombs
and monuments of the dead, or to the living? If you are men and not senseless stocks,
stop and consider where you are going! If you have the reason and understanding of
men, do not dare to run into the flames, and fall into hell with your eyes open;
but stop and think, and set about the work of repentance. What, men? and yet run
into the pit, when the very beasts will not be forced in ? What, endowed with reason?
and yet trifle with death and hell, and the vengeance of the Almighty? Are men only
distinguished from brutes in that these, having no foresight, have no care to provide
for the things to come, and will you, who are warned, not hasten your escape from
eternal torments? O show yourselves men, and let reason prevail with you.
Is it a reasonable thing for you to contend against the Lord your Maker, or to harden
yourselves against His word, as though the Strength of Israel would lie? (Is xlv
9; Job ix 4; 1 Sam xv 29). Is it reasonable that an understanding creature should
lose, yea, live quite against the very end of his being? Is it reasonable that the
only being in this world that God has made capable of knowing His will and bringing
Him glory, should yet live in ignorance of his Maker, and be unserviceable to His
use, yea, should be engaged against Him, and spit his venom in the face of his Creator?
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, and let the creatures without sense judge
if this be reason, that man whom God has nourished and brought up, should rebel against
Him? Judge in your own selves. Is it a reasonable undertaking for briers and thorns
to set themselves in battle against the devouring fire? or for the potsherd of the
earth to strive with its Maker? You will say, 'This is not reason'; or surely the
eye of reason is quite put out. And, if this be not reason, then there is no reason
that you should continue as you are, but there is every reason in the world that
you should immediately turn and repent.
What shall I say? I could spend myself in this argument. O that you would only hearken
to me; that you would now set upon a new course! Will you not be made clean? When
shall it once be? Reader, will you sit down and consider the fore-mentioned argument,
and debate it whether it be not best to turn? Come, and let us reason together. Is
it good for you to be here? Is it good for you to try whether God will be as good
as His word, and to harden yourself in a conceit that all is well with you while
you remain unsanctified?
Alas, for such sinners! must they perish at last by hundreds? What course shall I
use with them that I have not tried? 'What shall I do for the daughter of my people?'
(Jer ix 7).
'O Lord God, help. Alas, shall I leave them thus? If they will not hear me, yet do
Thou hear me. O that they might live in Thy sight! Lord, save them, or they perish.
My heart would melt to see their houses on fire when they were fast asleep in their
beds; and shall not my soul be moved within me to see them falling into endless perdition?
Lord, have compassion, and save them out of the burning. Put forth Thy divine power,
and the work will be done.'