Though what has already been said of the necessity of conversion and of the miseries
of the unconverted might be sufficient to induce any considerate mind to resolve
upon a present turning to God; yet, knowing what a piece of desperate obstinacy and
untractableness the heart of man naturally is, I have thought it necessary to add
some motives to persuade you to be reconciled to God.
'O Lord, do not fail me now, at my last attempts. If any soul has read hitherto,
and is yet untouched, Lord, fasten on him now, and do Thy work. Take him by the heart,
overcome him, persuade him, till he say, "Thou host prevailed, for Thou art stronger
than L" Lord, didst not Thou make me a fisher of men, and have I toiled all this
while and caught nothing? Alas, that I should have spent my strength for naught!
and now I am casting my last. Lord Jesus, stand Thou upon the shore, and direct how
and where I shall spread my net; and let me so enclose with arguments the souls I
seek, that they may not be able to get out. Now, Lord, for a multitude of souls;
now for a full draught. O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me this
once, O God.'
Men and brethren, heaven and earth call upon you; yea, hell itself preaches the doctrine
of repentance unto you. The ministers of the churches labour for you. The angels
of heaven wait for you, for your repenting and turning unto God. O sinner, why should
devils laugh at your destruction, and deride your misery, and sport themselves with
your folly? This will be your case, except you turn. And were it not better you should
be a joy to angels than a laughing-stock and sport for devils. Verily, if you would
but come in, the heavenly hosts would take up their anthems and sing, 'Glory to God
in the highest'; the morning stars would sing together, and all the sons of God shout
for joy, and celebrate this new creation as they did the first. Your repentance
would, as it were, make a holiday in heaven, and the glorious spirits would rejoice,
in that there is a new brother added to their society, another heir born to the Lord,
and a lost son received safe and sound. The true penitent's tears are indeed the
wine that maketh glad both God and man.
If it be little that men and angels would rejoice at your conversion, know also that
God Himself would rejoice over you, even with singing (Lk xv 9; Is lxii 5). Never
did Jacob with such joy weep over the neck of his Joseph, as your heavenly Father
would rejoice over you upon your coming to Him. Look over the story of the Prodigal
Son. I think I see how the aged father lays aside his state and forgets his years;
behold, how he runs. O the haste that mercy makes: the sinner makes not half that
speed. I think I see how his heart moves, how his compassion yearn. How quick-sighted
is love! Mercy spies him a great way off; forgets his riotous course, unnatural rebellion,
horrid unthankfulness - not a word of these - and receives him with open arms, clasps
him about his neck, kisses him; calls for the fatted calf, the best robe, the ring,
the shoes, the best cheer in heaven's store, the best attire in heaven's wardrobe.
Yea, the joy cannot be held in his own breast. Others must be called to participate.
The friends sympathise; but none know the joy the father has in his new-born son,
whom he has received from the dead. I think I hear the music at a distance. O the
melody of the heavenly choristers! I cannot learn the song (Rev xiv 3) but I think
I overhear the theme at which all the harmonious choir with one consent strike sweetly
in: 'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' I
need not explain the parable further. God is the father: Christ is the provision,
His righteousness the robe, His grace the ornaments, ministers, saints and angels,
the friends and servants; and you that read, if you will but unfeignedly repent and
turn, the welcome prodigal, the happy instance of this grace, the blessed subject
of this joy and love.
O rock! O adamant! What, not moved yet? Not yet resolved to turn forthwith and to
close with mercy? I will try yet once again. If one were sent to you from the dead,
would you be persuaded? Why, hear the voice from the dead, from the damned, crying
to you that you should repent: 'I pray thee that thou wouldest send him to my father's
house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify to them, lest they also come
into this place of torment; if one went to them from the dead, they will repent'
(Lk xvi 27-28). Hear, 0 man; your predecessors in impenitence preach to you from
the infernal flames, that you should repent. 0 look down into the bottomless pit.
Do you see how the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever? What do you
think of those chains of darkness? Can you be content to bum? Do you see how the
worm gnaws, how the fire rages? What do you say to that gulf of perdition? Will you
take up your habitation there? 0 lay your ear to the door of hell. Do you hear the
curses and blasphemies, the weepings and wafflings, how they lament their follies
and curse their day ? How do they roar and gnash their teeth! how deep their groans!
how inconceivable their miseries! If the shrieks of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, were
so terrible when the earth clave asunder and opened its mouth and swallowed them
up, and all that appertained to them, that all Israel Red at the cry of them (Num
xvi 33-34), 0 how fearful would the cry be if God should take off the covering from
the mouth of hell, and let the cry of the damned ascend in all its terror among the
children of men! And of their moans and miseries this is the piercing, killing emphasis
and burden, 'For ever! for ever!'
As God liveth that made your soul, you are but a few hours distant from all this,
except you be converted.
O! I am even lost and swallowed up in the abundance of those arguments that I might
suggest. If there be any point of wisdom in all the world, it is to repent and come
in. If there be anything righteous, anything reasonable, this is it. If there be
anything that maybe called madness and folly, and anything that may be counted sottish,
absurd, brutish, and unreasonable, it is this, to go on in your unconverted state.
Let me beg of you, as you would not willingly destroy yourself, sit down and weigh,
besides what has been said, these following motives, and let conscience say if it
be not most reasonable that you should repent and turn.
1: The God that made you most graciously invites you. His most sweet and merciful
nature invites you. 0 the kind. ness of God, His boundless compassion, His tender
mercies! As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways above our ways,
and His thoughts above our thoughts. 'He is full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering,
and plenteous in mercy' (Ps lxxxvi 15). This is a great argument to persuade sinners
to come. 'Turn unto the Lord, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, of
great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.' If God would not repent of the evil,
it would be some discouragement to our repenting. If there were no hope of mercy,
it would be no wonder that rebels should stand out; but never had subjects such a
gracious prince, such pity, patience, and clemency to deal with, as you have. 'Who
is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity?’ (Micah vii 18). 0 sinners, see
what a God you have to deal with. If you will but turn, 'he will turn again, and
have compassion on you; he will subdue your iniquities, and cast all your sins into
the depths of the sea'. 'Return unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will return
unto you' (Mal iii 7). Sinners do not fail in that they have too high thoughts of
God's mercies, but in that they overlook His justice, or they promise themselves
mercy out of God's way. His mercies are beyond all imagination; great mercies, manifold
mercies (Neh ix 19), tender mercies, sure mercies, everlasting mercies; and all is
yours, if you will but turn. Are you willing to come in? The Lord has laid aside
His terror and erected a throne of grace. He holds forth the golden sceptre: touch
and live. Would a merciful man slay his enemy when prostrate at his feet, acknowledging
his wrong, begging pardon, and offering to enter with him into a covenant of peace?
Much less will the merciful God. Study His name (Ex xxxiv 7), 'Keeping mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.' Also read experience, Neh
God's soul-encouraging calls and promises invite you. Ah, what an earnest suitor
is mercy to you! How lovingly, how instantly, it calls after you! How earnestly it
woos you! 'Return thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause my
anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger
for ever; only acknowledge thine iniquity. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the
Lord; return, and I will heal thy backslidings. Thou bast played the harlot with
many lovers; yet return unto me, saith the Lord' (Jer iii). 'As I live, saith the
Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn from his
way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house
of Israel?' (Ezek xxxiii 11). 'If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he
hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right,
he shall surely live, he shall not die. All the transgressions that he hath committed,
they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness that he hath done, he
shall live.... Repent, and turn you from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall
not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, and make you a new
heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O Israel? For I have no pleasure in
the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, wherefore turn yourselves, and
live ye' (Ezek xviii).
O melting, gracious words: the voice of God, and not of a man! This is not the manner
of men, for the offended sovereign to sue to the offending, traitorous rebel. O how
does mercy follow you, and plead with you! Is not your heart broken yet? O that today
you would hear His voice!
2: The doors of heaven are thrown open to you. The everlasting gates are set wide
open for you, and an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven is administered
Christ now addresses you, and calls upon you to arise and take possession of this
good land. View the glory of the other world, as set forth in the map of the gospel.
Get up into the Pisgah of the promises, and lift up your eyes northward, and southward,
and eastward, and westward, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, and that
goodly mountain. Behold the Paradise of God, watered with the streams of glory. Arise
and walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for the
land which you see, the Lord will give it to you for ever, if you will but return.
Let me say to you, as Paul to Agrippa, 'Believest thou the prophets?' If you believe
indeed, view what glorious things are spoken of the city of God, and know that all
this is here tendered in the name of God to you. As verily as God is true, it shall
be for ever yours, if you will but thoroughly turn.
Behold the city of pure transparent gold, whose foundations are garnished with all
manner of precious stones, whose gates are pearls, whose light is glory, whose temple
is God. Believest thou this? If you do, are you not beside yourself, that will not
take possession when the gates are thrown open to you, and you are bidden to enter?
O ye sons of folly, will you embrace the dunghill and refuse the kingdom? Behold,
the Lord takes you up into the mountain, shows you the kingdom of heaven and all
the glory thereof, and tells you, 'All this will I give you, if you will fall down
and worship me; if you will submit to mercy, accept my Son, and serve me in righteousness
and holiness.' `O fools and slow of heart to believe!' Will you seek and serve the
world, and neglect eternal glory? What! not enter into paradise when the flaming
sword, which was once set to keep you out, is now used to drive you in? But you will
say I am uncharitable to think you infidels and unbelievers. What, then, shall I
think of you? Either you are desperate unbelievers that do not credit it; or beside
yourselves, that you know and believe the excellence and eternity of this glory,
and yet do so fearfully neglect it.
Do but attend to what is offered you: a blessed kingdom, a kingdom of glory, a kingdom
of righteousness, a kingdom of peace, and an everlasting kingdom. Here you shall
dwell, here you shall reign for ever, and the Lord shall seat you on a throne of
glory, and with His own hand shall set the royal diadem upon your head, and give
you a crown — not of thorns, for there shall be no sinning nor suffering there: not
of gold, for this shall be viler than the dirt in that day; but a crown of life,
a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory, yea, you shall put on glory as a robe,
and shall shine like the sun in the firmament of your Father. Look now on your worthless
flesh. This flesh, which is mere dust and ashes, shall be brighter than the stars.
In short, you shall be made like unto the angels of God and behold His face in righteousness.
Look now and tell me, do you not yet believe? If not, conscience must pronounce you
an infidel; for it is the very word of God that I speak.
But if you say you believe, let me next know your resolution. Will you embrace this
for your happiness ? Will you forgo your sinful gains, your forbidden pleasures ?
Will you trample on the world's esteem, and stop your ears to its flatteries, and
wrest yourself out of its embraces? Will you be content to take up with reproach
and poverty, if they lie in the way to heaven, and follow the Lord with humble self-denial,
in a mortified and flesh-displeasing life? If so, all is yours, and that for ever.
And is not the offer a fair one? Is it not just that he should be damned that will
go on and perish, when all this maybe had by taking it? Will you not take God at
His word? Will you not let go your hold of the world, and lay hold on eternal life?
If not, let conscience tell you whether you are not beside yourseV, that you should
neglect so happy a choice, by which you might be made happy for ever.
3: God will give you unspeakable privileges in this life. Through the fullness of
your blessedness shall be reserved till hereafter, yet God will give you no little
things in hand. He will redeem you from your thraldom. He will pluck you from the
paw of the lion. The serpent shall bruise your heel, but you shall bruise his head.
He shall deliver you from this present evil world. Prosperity shall not destroy you;
adversity shall not separate Him and you. He will redeem you from the power of the
grave, and make the king of terrors a messenger of peace to you. He will take out
the curse from the cross, and make affliction the refining-pot to purify the metal,
the fan to blow off the chaff, the medicine to cure the mind. He will save you from
the arrest of the law, and turn the curse into a blessing to you. He has the keys
of hell and of death, and shutteth and no man openeth, and He will shut its mouth,
as once He did the lions', that you shall not be hurt of the second death.
Besides, He will not only save from misery, but install you into unspeakable prerogatives.
He will bestow Himself upon you; He will be a Friend and a Father unto you. He will
be a Sun and a Shield to you. Ina word, He will be a God to you. And what more can
be said? What may you expect that a God should do for you, and be to you? That He
will be, that He will do. She that marries a prince expects he should do for her
like a prince, that she may live in suitable state, and have an answerable dowry.
He that has a king for his father or a friend, expects he should do for him like
a king. Alas, the kings and monarchs of the earth, so much above you, are but like
the painted butterflies amongst the rest of their kind, or the fair coloured palmerworm
amongst the rest of the worms, if compared with God. As He infinitely exceeds the
glory and power of His glittering dust, so He will, beyond all proportion, exceed
in doing for His favourites whatever princes can do for theirs. He will give you
grace and glory, and withhold no good thing from you. He will take you for His sons
and daughters, and make you heirs of His promises, and establish His everlasting
covenant with you. He will justify you from all that law, conscience and Satan can
charge upon you. He will give you free access into His presence, and hereafter,
yet God will give you no little things in hand. He will accept your person, and receive
your prayers. He will abide in you, and hold a constant and friendly communion with
you. His ear shall be open, His door open, His store open, at all times to you. His
blessing shall rest upon you, and He will make your enemies serve you, and work out
all things for good unto you.
4: The terms of mercy are brought as low as possible to you. God has stooped as low
to sinners as with honour He can. He will not be the author of sin, nor stain the
glory of His holiness; and how could He come lower than He has, unless He should
God does not impose anything unreasonable or impossible, as a condition of life,
upon you. Two things were necessary to be done, according to the tenor of the first
covenant. 1. That we should fully satisfy the demands of justice for past offences.
2. That we should perform personally, perfectly, and perpetually, the whole law for
the time to come. By our sins we render salvation through either of these ways impossible.
But behold God's gracious provision in both. He does not insist upon satisfaction:
He is content to take of the Surety, and He of His own providing too, what He might
have exacted from you. 'All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself
by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses
unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation' (2 Cor v 18-19).
He declares Himself to have received a ransom, and that He expects nothing but that
you should accept His Son, and He shall be righteousness and redemption to you. If
you come in His Christ, and set your heart to please Him, making this your chief
concern, He will graciously accept you.
O consider the condescension of your God! Let me say to you, as Naaman's servant
to him, 'My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou
not have done it? How much rather when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean!' If God
demanded some terrible, some severe and rigorous thing of you, to escape eternal
damnation, would you not have done it? Suppose it had been to spend all your days
in sorrow in some howling wilderness, or pine with famine, would you not have thankfully
accepted eternal redemption, though these had been the conditions ? Nay, farther,
if God had told you that you should burn in the fire for millions of ages, or be
so long tormented in hell, would you not have accepted it? Alas, all these are not
so much as one grain of sand in the glass of eternity. If your offended Creator should
have held you but one year upon the rack, and then bid you come and forsake your
sins, accept Christ, and serve him a few years in self-denial or lie in this case
for ever and ever; do you think you should have hesitated at the offer, and disputed
the terms, and have been unresolved whether to accept the proposal? O sinner, return
and live; why should you die when life is to be had for the taking, when mercy entreats
you to be saved? Could you say, 'Lord, I knew thee, that thou wart a hard man', even
then you would have no excuse; but when the God of Heaven has stooped so low, and
condescended so far, if still you stand off, who shall plead for you?
Objection: Notwithstanding all the advantages of the new covenant, I am unable to
repent and believe, and so comply with its conditions.
Answer: These you may perform by God's grace enabling; but let the next consideration
serve for a fuller answer.
5: God offers all needed grace to enable you. `I have stretched out mine hand, and
no man regarded' (Prov i 24). What though you are plunged into the ditch of that
misery from which you can never get out? Christ offers to help you out; He reaches
out His hand to you; and if you perish, it is for refusing His help. 'Behold, I stand
at the door and knock; if any man open to me, I will come in.' (Rev iii 2O). What
though you are poor, and wretched, and blind, and naked? Christ offers a cure for
your blindness, a covering for your nakedness, riches for your poverty. He tenders
you His righteousness, His grace: 'I counsel thee to buy of me gold, that thou mayest
be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and anoint thy eyes with
eyesalve, that thou mayest see.' Do you say, 'The condition is impossible; for I
have nothing with which to buyT You must know that this buying is 'without money
and without price.' This buying is by begging and seeking with your whole heart.
God commands you to know Him, and to fear Him. Do you say, 'Yes, but my mind is blinded,
and my heart is hardened from His fear?’ I answer that God offers to enlighten your
mind, and to teach you His fear. So that now, if men live in ignorance and estrangement
from the Lord, it is because they will not understand, and do not desire the knowledge
of His ways. 'If thou criest after knowledge, if thou seekest her as silver, then
shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' (Prov
ii 3-5). Is not this a fair offer? 'Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will pour out
my Spirit unto you' (Prov i 23). Though of yourselves you can do nothing, yet you
may do all through His Spirit enabling you, and He offers assistance to you. God
bids you 'wash and make you clean'. You say you are unable, as much as the leopard
to wash out his spots. Yes, but the Lord offers to cleanse you; so that if you are
filthy still, it is through your own wilfulness: V have purged thee, and thou avast
not purged' (Ezek xxiv 13). 'O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean: when shall
it once be?' (Jer xiii 27). God invites you to be made clean, and entreats you to
yield to Him. O accept His offers, and let Him do for you, and in you, what you cannot
do for yourselves.
And now, beloved, let me know your mind. What do you intend to do? Will you go on
and die, or will you turn and lay hold on eternal life? How long will you linger
in Sodom? How long will you halt between two opinions? Have you not yet resolved
whether Christ or Barabbas, whether bliss or torment, whether this vain and wretched
world, or the paradise of God, be the better choice? Is it a disputable case whether
the Abana and Pharpar of Damascus be better than all the streams of Eden; or whether
the vile pool of sin is to be preferred before the water of life, clear as crystal,
proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb? Can the world in good earnest
do that for you which Christ can? Will it stand by you to eternity? Will pleasures,
lands, titles, and treasures descend with you? If not, had you not need look after
something that will? What do you mean to stand wavering? Shall I leave you at last,
like Agrippa, only almost persuaded? You are for ever lost if left here; as good
be not at all, as not altogether a Christian. How long will you rest in idle wishes
and fruitless purposes? When will you come to a fixed, firm, and full resolve? Do
you not see how Satan cheats you by tempting you to delay? How long has he drawn
you on in the way of perdition!
Well, do not put me off with a dilatory answer; tell me not later. I must have your
immediate consent. If you are not now resolved, while the Lord is treating with you
and inviting you, much less likely are you to be later, when these impressions are
worn off, and you are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Will you give me
your hand? Will you set open the door and give the Lord Jesus the full and ready
possession? Will you put your name unto His covenant? What do you resolve upon? If
you still delay, my labour is lost, and all is likely to come to nothing. Come, cast
in your lot; make your choice. 'Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation;
today, if you will hear His voice.' Why should not this be the day from which you
are able to date your happiness? Why should you venture a day longer in this dangerous
and dreadful condition? What if God should this night require your soul? O that thou
mightest know in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace, before they be
hid from thine eyes! This is your day, and it is but a day. Others have had their
day, and have received their doom; and now are you brought upon the stage of this
world, here to act your part for your eternity. Remember, you are now upon your good
behaviour for everlasting; if you do not make a wise choice now, you are undone for
ever. What your present choice is, such must be your eternal condition.
And is it true indeed? Are life and death at your choice? Why, then, what hinders
but that you should be happy? Nothing does or can hinder but your own wilful neglect
or refusal. It was the saying of the eunuch to Philip, 'See, here is water, what
doth hinder me to be baptized?' So I may say to you, 'See, here is Christ, here is
mercy, pardon, life; what hinders but that you should be pardoned and saved?' One
of the martyrs, as he was praying at the stake, had his pardon set by him in a box,
which indeed he rightly refused, because upon unworthy terms; but here the terms
are most honourable and easy. O sinner, will you perish with your pardon by you?
Do but henceforth give your consent to Christ, to renounce your sins, deny yourself,
take up the yoke and the cross, and you carry the day. Christ is yours; pardon, peace,
life, blessedness, are all yours. And is not this an offer worth embracing? Why should
you hesitate or doubtfully dispute about the case? Is it not past controversy whether
God be better than sin, and glory than vanity? Why should you forsake your own mercy,
and sin against your own life? When will you shake off your sloth, and lay by your
excuses? Boast not of tomorrow, you know not where you may lodge this night.
Now the Holy Spirit is striving with you. He will not always strive. Have you not
felt your heart warmed by the Word, and been almost persuaded to leave off your sins
and come to Christ? Have you not felt some motions in your mind, in which you have
been warned of your danger, and told what your careless course would end in? It may
be you are like young Samuel who, when the Lord called once and again, knew not the
voice of the Lord, but these motions are the offers, and callings, and strivings
of the Spirit. O take advantage of the tide, and know the day of your visitation.
Now the Lord Jesus stretches wide His arms to receive you. He beseeches you by us.
How movingly, how meltingly, how compassionately He calls. The church is put into
a sudden ecstasy at the sound of His voice, 'the voice of my beloved'. O will you
turn a deaf ear to His voice? Is it not the voice that breaks the cedars, and makes
the mountains to skip like a calf; that shakes the wilderness, and divides the flames
of fire? It is not Sinai's thunder, but a soft and still voice. It is not the voice
of Mount Ebal, a voice of cursing and terror, but the voice of Mount Gerizim, the
voice of blessing and glad tidings of good things. It is not the voice of the trumpet
nor the noise of war, but a message of peace from the King of peace. I may say to
you, O sinner, as Martha to her sister, 'The Master is come, and he calleth for thee.'
Now then, with Mary, arise quickly and come unto Him. How sweet are His invitations!
He cries in the open concourse, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink'
(Jn vii 37). How bountiful is He! He excludes none. 'Whosoever will, let him take
the water of life freely' (Rev xxii 17). 'Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the
wine that I have mingled. Forsake the foolish and live' (Prov ix 5-Q. 'Come unto
me, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest to your souls'
(Mt xi 28-29). 'Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out' (Jn vi 37).
How does He bemoan the obstinate refuser! 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would
I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and
ye would not!' (Mt xxiii 37). 'Behold me, behold me: I have stretched out my hands
all the day to a rebellious people'(Is lxv 1-2). O be persuaded now at last to throw
yourselves into the arms of His love.
Behold, O ye sons of men, the Lord Jesus has thrown open the prison, and now He comes
to you by His ministers, and beseeches you to come out. If it were from a palace
or paradise that Christ did call you, it were no wonder that you were unwilling;
and yet how easily was Adam beguiled from it; but it is from your prison, from your
chains, from the dungeon, from the darkness, that He calls you, and yet will you
not come? He calls you unto liberty, and yet will you not hearken? His yoke is easy,
His laws are liberty, His service is freedom, and whatever prejudice you may have
against His ways, if God maybe believed, you shall find them all pleasure and peace,
and shall taste sweetness and joy unutterable, and take infinite delight and felicity
in them (Prov iii 17; 1 Pet i 8; Ps cxix 1O3, 111, 165).
Beloved, I am loath to leave you. I cannot tell how to give you up. I am now ready
to close, but I would see a covenant made between Christ and you before I end. What!
shall I leave you at last as I found you? Have you read thus far, and not yet resolved
to abandon all your sins and to close with Jesus Christ? Alas, what shall I say?
What shall I do? Will you turn off all my importunity? Have I run in vain? Have I
used so many arguments, and spent so much time to persuade you, and must I sit down
at last in disappointment? But it is a small matter that you turn me off; you put
a slight upon the God that made you; you reject the compassion and beseechings of
a Saviour, and will be found resisters of the Holy Ghost, if you will not now be
prevailed upon to repent and be converted.
Well, though I have called you long, and you have refused, I shall yet this once
more lift up my voice like a trumpet, and cry from the highest places of the city
before I conclude, with the miserable exclamation, 'All is over!' Once more I shall
call after regardless sinners, that, if it be possible, I may awaken them; ,O earth,
earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord' (Jer xxii 29). Unless you are resolved to
die, lend your ears to the last calls of mercy. Behold, in the name of God, I make
open proclamation to you, 'Hearken unto me, O ye children; hear instruction and
be wise, and refuse it not' (Prov viii 32-33).
'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that bath no money,
come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that
which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good,
and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me; hear,
your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the
sure mercies of David' (Is Iv 1-3).
Ho, every one that is sick of any manner of disease or torment, or is possessed with
an evil spirit, whether of pride, fury, lust, or covetousness, come ye to the Physician.
Bring your sick. Lo, here is He that healeth all manner of sicknesses, and all manner
of diseases, among the people (Mt iv 23-24).
Ho, every one that is in distress, gather yourselves unto Christ, and He will become
a Captain over you. He will be your protection from the arrests of the law; He will
save you from the hand of justice. Behold, He is an open sanctuary to you; He is
a known refuge. Away with your sins and come in unto Him, lest the avenger of blood
seize you, lest devouring wrath overtake you.
Ho, every blind and ignorant sinner, come and buy eye-salve, that you may see. Away
with your excuses; you are for ever lost if you continue in this state. But accept
Christ for your Prophet, and He will be a light unto you. Cry unto Him for knowledge,
study His Word, take pains about religion, humble yourself before God, and He will
teach you His way, and make you wise unto salvation. But if you will not follow Him,
but sit down because you have but one talent, He will condemn you for a wicked and
slothful servant (Mt xxv 24-26).
Ho, every profane sinner, come in and live. Return unto the Lord, and He will have
mercy on you; be entreated. O return, come. You that have filled your mouth with
oaths and execrations, all manner of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven you,
if you will but thoroughly turn unto Christ and come in. O unclean sinner, put away
your whoredoms out of your sight, and your adulteries from between your breasts,
and give yourself unto Christ, as a vessel of holiness, alone for His use; and then,
'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red
like crimson, they shall be as wool' (Lk vii 47; Is i 18, iv 7).
Hear, O ye drunkards, how long will you be drunk? Put away your wine. Though you
have rolled in the filthiness of your sin, give yourselves unto Christ, to live soberly,
righteously, and godly; embrace His righteousness; accept His government; and though
you have been vile, He will wash you (Rev i 5).
Hear, O ye loose companions, whose delight is in vain and wicked society, to sport
away your time in carnal mirth; come in at Wisdom's call, and choose her and her
ways, and you shall live (Prov ix 5-6).
Hear, O ye scorners, hear the word of the Lord. Though you make a sport at godliness
and its professors, though you have made a scorn of Christ and His ways, yet even
to you does He call, to gather you under the wings of His mercy. Ina word, though
you should be found among the worst of that black roll, yet upon your thorough conversion
you shall be washed, you shall be sanctified, you shall be justified in the name
of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor vi 10, 11).
Ho, every formal professor, you that are but lukewarm and resting in the form of
godliness. Give over your halting; be a true Christian; be zealous and repent; and
then, though you have been an offence to Christ, you shall be the joy of His heart
(Rev iii 16-20).
And now bear witness that mercy has been offered you. 'I call heaven and earth to
record against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that you may live' (Dent xxx 19). I can only
entreat you and warn you. I cannot otherwise compel you to be happy; if I could,
I would. What answer will you send me with to my Master? Let me speak to you as Abraham's
servant to Nahor's family, 'And now if will deal kindly and truly with my master,
tell me.' O for such a happy answer as Rebecca gave them: 'And they said, We will
call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebecca, and said unto
her, Wilt thou go with this man? and she said, I will go' (Gen xxiv 49-58). O that
I had this from you! Why should 1, who agonize for your salvation, be your accuser?
Why should the passionate pleadings of mercy be turned into horrid aggravations of
your obstinacy and additions to your misery? Judge in yourselves; do you not think
their condemnation will be doubly dreadful, that shall still go on in their sins,
after all endeavours to recall them? Doubtless it shall be more tolerable for Tyre
and Sidon, yea, for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for you! (Mt
Beloved, if you have any pity for your perishing souls, close with the present offers
of mercy. If the God that made you have any authority with you, obey His command
and come in. If you are not the despisers of grace, and would not shut the doors
of mercy against yourselves, repent and be converted. Let not heaven stand open for
you in vain. Let not the Lord Jesus open His stores and bid you buy without money
and without price in vain. Let not His Spirit and His ministers strive with you in
vain, and leave you now at last unpersuaded, lest the sentence go forth against you,
'The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire, the founder melteth in
vain. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord bath rejected them'
(Jer vi 29-30).
'Father of spirits, take the heart in hand that is too hard for my weakness. Do not
Thou end, though I have done. A word from Thy effectual power will do the work. O
Thou, that halt the key of David, that openest and no man shutteth, open Thou this
heart, as Thou didst Lydia's, and let the King of Glory enter in, and make this soul
Thy captive. Let not the tempter harden him in delays. Let him not stir from this
place, nor take his eyes from these lines, till he resolve to forego his sins, and
accept life on Thy self-denying terms. In Thy Name, O Lord God, did I go forth to
these labours; in Thy name do I close them. Let not all the time they have cost be
lost hours; let not all the thoughts of the heart, and all the pains that have been
about them be lost labour. Lord, put Thy hand upon the heart of this reader, and
send Thy Spirit, as once Thou didst Philip to join himself to the chariot of the
eunuch while he was reading the Word. And though I should never know It while I live,
yet I beseech Thee, O Lord God, let it be found at the last day that some souls are
converted by these labours; and let some be able to stand forth and say that by these
persuasions they were won unto Thee. Amen, Amen.' Let him that readeth say, Amen.