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life! But this briskness and liveliness plainly shew the great security which is upon most men.
Secondly, The marvellous quietness and stillness that is in the thoughts and consciences of men, about their everlasting concernments, plainly shews this to be thehfeof the unregenerate; How few scruples, doubts, or fears shall you hear from them \ How many years may a mao live in carnal samilies, before he" shall hear such a question as this serioufly propounded, " What "shall I do to be saved?" There are no questions in their lips, because no fear or sense of danger in their hearts.
Thirdly, The general contentedness, and profest willingness of carnal men to die, give clear evidence that iuch a life of security, and vain hope is the life they Ijve; " Like sheep they are laid in the grave, Psal. xlix. 14, O how quiet and still are (heir consciences, when there are but a few breaths more between them and everlasting burnings! Had Cod opened theif <yes to apprehend the consequences of death, and what follows the pale horse, Rev. vS. 8. it were impossible but that every unregenerate man should make that bed on which he dies, shake tud tremble under him.
Fourthly, and Lastly, The low esteem men have for Christ, and the total neglect of, at least the mere trifling with, those duties in which he is to be found, plainly discover this stupid, secure life to be the life that the generality of the world do live: for were men sensible of the disease of sin, there could be no quieting them without " Christ the physician," Phil. iii. 8. Al! the business they have to do in this world could never keep them from their knees, or make them strangers to their closets: all which, and much more that might be (aid of like nature, gives too full and clear proof to this fad assertion, that this is the fife the unregenerate world generally lives.
Fourthly, In the last place, I would speak a few words to discover the danger of such a life, as hath been described; to which purpose, let the following brief hints be seriousty minded.
Firjt, By these things fouls are inevitably betrayed into hell, and eternal ruin; this blinding is in order to damning, 2 Coriv. 3, 4. " If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost } * whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded." Those that are turned over into eternal death, are thus generally hoodwinked and blinded in order thereuAto, Ise. vi. y, 10. " And he said "go and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand nos: '* and fee ye indeed, bu t perceive not. Make the hearts of this ** people sat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; "lest they fee with their eyes, and hear with their ears, »bo
"understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed."
Secondly, As damning is the event of blinding, so nothing makes hell a more terrible surprize to the soul than this doth: By this means the wrath of God is felt before its danger be apprehended j a roan is past all hope, before he begins to have any fear: his eternal ruin, like a breach ready to sall, swelling out
■ in a high wall, cometh suddenly at an instant, Isa. xxx* 13. and as it damns surely, and surprizingly, so,
Thirdly, Nothing more aggravates a man's damnation than to sink suddenly into it, from amidst so many hopes, aod high confidence of safety: For a man to sind himself in hell, when he thought and concluded himself within a step of heaven, O what a hell will it be to such men! The higher vain hopes lifted them up, the more dreadful must their sall be, Mat. vii. 22. And as
, it damns surely, surprizingly, and with highest aggravations, so,
Fourthly, This life of security, and vain hope, frustrates all the means of recovery, and salvation in the only season wherein they can be useful and beneficial to us: By reason of these things the word hath no power to convince raens consciences, nothing can bring them to a fight and fense of their condition: Therefore Christ told the self-confident, and blind Jews, Mat. xxi. ar, "That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God "before them:" And the reason is, because their hearts lie more open, and sair to the strokes of conviction, and compunction for sin than those do, who are blinded by vain hopes, and confidences.
Infer. 1. Is this the life that the unregerterate -world lives t. Then it is not to be wondered at, that the preaching of the gofpel hath so little success : " Who hath believed our report? (saith the: "prophet) and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Isa. liii. 1. Ministers study for truths apt to awaken, and convince the consciences of them that hear them, but their words return again to them: They turn to God, and mourn over the matter; we have laboured in vain, and spent our strength for nought: And this security is the cause of all; vain hopes bar fast the doors of mens hearts against all the convictions and persuasions of the word. The greater cause have they to admire the grace of God, who have found, or sliall find the convictions of the word sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit; to whose hearts God brings home the commandment, by an effectual application.
Infer. 1. If this be the life of the unregenerate world; what
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deadly enemies are they that nourish, and strengthen the groundless confidences, and vain hopes of salvation in men? This the scripture calls the healing of the hurt of souls slightly, by crying "Peace, peace, when there is no peace," Jer. vi. 14. The sewing of pillows under their arm-holes, Ezek. xiii. 18. That they may lie soft and easy under the ministry: And this is the doctrine which the people love; but oh, what will the end of these things be.' And what an account have those men to give to God for the blood of those souls by them betrayed to the everlasting burnings ! Such flattery is the greatest cruelty : Those whom you bless upon earth, will curse you in hell, and the day ia which they trusted their souls to your conduct.
Inter. 3. Hova great a mercy is it to be awakened out cf that generalsteep, and security -which is fallen upon the world!
You cannot estimate the value of that mercy, for it is a peculiar mercy. O that ever the Spirit of the Lord should touch thy soul under the ministry of the word, startle, and rouse thy conscience, whilst others are left in the dead sleep of security round about thee! When the Lord dealt with thy soul much after the same manner he did with Paul in the way to Damascus, who not only saw a light shining from heaven, which those that travelled with him saw as well as he, but heard that voice from heaven which did the work upon his heart, though his companions heard it not. Besides, it is not only a peculiar mercy, but it is a leading, introductive mercy, to all other spiritual mercies that follow it to all eternity. If God had not done this for thee, thou hadst never been brought to saith, to Christ, or heaven: from this act of the spirit all other saving acts take their rife. So that you have cause for ever to admire the goodness of God, in in such a savour as this is.
Infer. 4. Lastly, Hence it follows, that the generality of the world are in the direct way to eternal ruin; and whatever their vain confidences are, they cannot be saved: "Narrow is the "way, and strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few ** there be that sind it." Hear me all you that live this dangerous life of carnal security, and vain hope, whatever your persuasions and confidences are, except you give them up, and get better grounds for your hope, you cannot be saved. For,
First, Such hopes and confidences, as yours, are directly con'tradictory to the established order of the gospel, which recfbires repentance, Acts v. 31. Faith, Acts xiii. 39. and regeneration, John iii. 3. in all that shall be saved: And this order shall never Jie altered for any man's sake.
Secondly, If such as you be saved, all the threatnings in scripture must be reversed, which lie in full opposition to-your vain hopes, Mark xvi. 16. John iii. 16. Rom. iii. 8, 9. Either the truth of God, in these threatnings, mult sail, or your vain hopes must sail.
Thirdly, If ever such as you be saved, new conditions must be set to all the promises: For there is no condition of any special promise found in any unregenerate person. Compare your hearts with these scriptures, Mat. v. 3, 4, 5, 6. Psal. xxiv. 4. Plal. lxxxiv., 11. Gen. xvii. 1, 2.
Fourthly, If ever such a hope as yours bring you to heaven, then the saving hope of God's elect is not rightly described to us in the scriptures. Scripture hope is the effect of regeneration, 1 Pet. i. 3. And/purity of heart is the effect of that hope, 1 Joha iii. 3. Nay,
Fifthly, The very nature of heaven is mistaken in scripture, if such as you be subjects qualified for its enjoyment: For assimilation, or the conformity of the foul to God in holiness, is, in. the scripture account, a principal ingredient of that blessedness: By all which, it manifestly appears that the hopes of most men are in vain, and will never bring them to heaven.
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Rom. vii. 9. For I -was alive -without the law once: But -when the commandment came, fin revived, and I died.
Doct. 2.' ■ iH AT there is a mighty efficacy in the word or law of God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, when God sets it home upon their consciences. "The weapons of the word are not carnal, "but mighty through God; to the pulling down of strong '* holds, casting down imaginations, and every thing that ex'* alteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into "captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,'* 2 Cor. x. 4, 5
In the opening of this point I shall,
1. Demonstrate the efficacy of the word or law of God.
2. Shew wherein the efficacy thereof lies.
3. From whence it hath all this mighty power and tfficacy. First, I shall give you some demonstrations of the mighty
power, and efficacy that there are in the word or law of God: which will appear with the fullest evidence. First, From the varigus fubjetls upon, whom it works: The hearts and consciences of men of all orders and qualities, have been reached, and wounded to the quick, by the two-edged sword of God's law. Some, among the great and honourable of the earth, (though indeed the fewest of that rank) have been, made to sloop, and tremble under the word. Acts xxiv. 16. Mark vi. 20. Sam. xv. 24. The wife and learned of the world have felt its power, and been brought over to embrace the humbling, and self-denying ways of Christ, Acts xvii. 34. Thus Origen, Hierom, Tertullian, Bradwardine, and many more, came into Canaan laden with the Egyptian gold, as one speaks, (». e ) they came into the church ot God abundantly enriched, and furnished with the learned arts and sciences, devoting them „ all to the service of Christ: Yea, and which is as strange, the mqstfimple, weak, and illiterate, have been wonderfully changed, and wrought upon by the power of the word: "The testimonies "of the Lord make wife the simple:" Men of weak understandings, in all other matters, have been made wife to salvation by the power of the word, Mat. xi. 25. 1 Cor. i. 27. Nay, the most malicious and obstinate enemies of Christ have been wounded, and converted by the word, 1 Tim. i. 13, Acts xvi. 25. Those that have been under the prejudice of the worst and most idolatrous education, have been the subjects of its mighty power, Acts xix. 26. To conclude, men of the most profiigate, and debauched lives have been wonderfully changed, and altered by the power of the word, 1 Cor. vi. 10, 11.
Secondly, The mighty efficacy of the law of God appears ia the manner of its operation; it works suddenly; strikes like a dart through the hearts and consciences of men, Acts ii. 37. A wonderful change is made in a short time: And as it works quickly, and suddenly, so it works irresistibly, with, an uncontroulcd power upon the spirits of men, 1 Thef. i. e. Rom. i. 16. Let the soul be armed against conviction with the thickest ignorance, strongest prejudice, or- most obstinate resolution, the word of God will wound the breast even of such a man, when God sends it forth in bis authority and power.
Thirdly,, The wonderful power of the law, or Word of God is evidently seen, in the strange effects which are produced by it ir» the hearts and lives of men. For,
First, It changes and alters the frame and temper of the mind: It moulds a man into a quite contrary temper, Gal. i. 23. "He "which persecuted us in times pass, now preacheth the saith, *' which once h» destroyed:" Thus a tyger is transformed into a lamb, by- the power of the word of God.
Secondly, It makes the soul, upon which it works, to forego,