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fouls; and if it be not timeoully quenched, it will burn to the lowest hell. Lose no time to get it extinguished, by fleeing to the blood of Jesus.
II. The next thing is to show the evil and danger of delaying this work until the time of fickness and dying. Alas, it is the common practice of the most part! but con Gider, I, What wretched ingratitude and baseness there is in it. Whether is it fit ye should give the best of your time to God that made you, or to the devil that seeks your deftruftion? Is it reasonable that the devil should feast on the flower and prime of your youth and Atrength, and your Creator have no other but the frag. ments of the devil's table? When the dregs of your time are come, your strength gone, your senses failed, your understanding and memory weak, your affections spent upon the creature, yea, when you are good for nothing else; will ye be so base as think you are then good enough for God, and for salvation work, which requires all your strength and might? But remember, if you be so bafe as to reserve the dregs of your time for God, you may expect he will be fo just as to reserve the dregs of his wrath for you, according to that word, Alal. i. 14. “ Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a malé, and facrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing." Your youth, ftrength, health, gifts, talents, are the males of the flock; if you give these to the devil, and referve the weakness of sickness and old age for God, you draw down his curse upon your heads; and how long will you be able to bear up under the weight of God's curse? Now, O delaying finners, why thould you be lo ungrateful to God,' and injurious to yourselves? God had early thoughts of mercy to you; and will you have nothing but late thoughts of duty to him? Cbrist did (pot defer his dying for us till he was old ; and shall we defer living to him, till we be old? Oh, we do not deal with God as we would have him deal with us. When * we need help in trouble, we cry, as Psal. cii. 2 “ Lord hear me; in the day when I call, answer, me speedily." To-day we still make the season of mercy, but to morrów the season for duty. Whenr mercy is delayed, we impatiently cry, how long? how long? We will not wait God's holy leisure. But, alas! we would have God to wait our sinful leisure. Oh let us be ashamed of such difingenuous dealings with our Creator.
2. Death may get a commission to take you off suddenly, without giving you any time to repent You are not sure to see the evening star of fickness, before the night of death overtake you, or that you will have any warning given you before the fatal stroke. For how many are there who project long lives, and look for time before death to repent, that get a surprising call to remove from the earthly tabernacle, and have not one minute to provide another lodging? How many are drowned by a sudden storm at tea? And how many killed by outward'accidents on land ? Some drop down suddenly in the streets; some die Gitting in their chairs ; fome go well to bed at night, and never see the morning; fome die as quickly by a fit of an epilepsy or apoplexy, as if shot with a gun Thus thousands are hurried into eternity, and presented before a tribunal, without being allowed so much time as to think one serious thought, or fpeak one word ? not one moment to consider where they are going, or to cry to God for mercy. And how know you but this may be your case at death ? Must it not be the greatest folly then, to delay your repentance to a dying time, when your life may not be one minute longer?
3. Though you may have some time to lie on fick, beds, how know ye but your fickness may be such as shall incapacitate you for spiritual work? Some we see are so oppreffed with continual sumbering and sleeping, even when death is nearest, that they are in no case to think or speak of these things that belong to their eternal state. Others, in high fevers, are troubled with rov. ings; and have no use of their reason, so that they are not capable to settle their worldly affairs; and how much less are they fit to secure their soul's eternal concerns at that time? Some again, are so racked with extreme pains and agonies, impatient frettings, and bitter uneas. ness, that they cannot get one settled thought about their souls present or future state. Others are so filled with terior and amazement, at the view of approaching death and eternity, that they cannot compose their
thoughts, to examine themselves, confess their fins, act faith in a Saviour, or follow any direction that is given them; but go off the stage in a confusion, being incapable to do any thing to purpose for their souls. Some their distemper is such, that they are brought to a great strait between the word of God and the physician. The word of God and his minifters tell them, if they do not mourn for their fins, and wrestle for mercy, they cannot be saved : but, faith the physician, if you trouble yourself with fad and melancholy thoughis, you prejudice your body, and hazırd your life. O! is this a fit time then to begin your preparation for another world?
4. The Spirit of God being long resisted and vex. ed by many in the day of health, he is provoked to leave them on death beds to the hardness of their own hearts: and so they remain, like stocks and stones, dead and stupid to the last.
5. The devil, that was busy all your lives to keep you from repentance, will not be idle at this time ; nay, he will be more active then than ever to ruin you, either by causing you to split on the rock of presumption or of despair. Sometimes he will tell sinners then, “ You need not trouble yourselves about your souls : God is more merciful than to damn you; the repentance you have already, will serve the curn.” But if this will not quiet them, he will study to drive them to despair, by telling them, “ They have loit the season of repentance and closing with Christ, and now there is no remedy, no hope for them, and it is in vain to use any further means." O then, do not hearken to Satan now, when he tenipts you to delay your repentance.
6. Whatever appearance of repentance some dying persons may have, let that be no encouragement to put off till that time. Why, there lieth a just suspicion upon a late repentance, that it is seldom sound and sincere. It is no found work, that ariseth more from fears of hell, than from any real hatred of lin; more from love to self, than love to God. And it is to be feared, that deathbed repentance is mostly of this sort, seeing ordinarily it confiteth more in grief and fear, prayers and promises, than in a hearty loathing of fin, love to holiness, or willVOL. I.
ingness to accept of Jesus Christ : For have we not seen many of these penitents, who, in the view of death, have professed great sorrow for their wicked lives, and made solemn promises of amendment; yet when they have happened to recover, all their righteousness hath vanished, and they have returned to their former fins as greedily as ever ? And, O delaying finner, what ground have you to think that your death bed repentance will be any better than theirs ? Be wise then in time, set heartily about salvation-work in the day of your health, and do not leave the weightiest work to the weakest time.'
Cbject. I. “ But hath not God promised mercy to then, that repent of their fins at any time ?”
Ans. Yes, to them that repent truly and sincerely: But do not think that it is in your power to repent fo, at any time you please ; no, it is impossible you can do it without the influence and allistance of the Spirit of God. And God hath no where promised this to those that put off their repentance to a death ted. There is a great difference between a lick man's howling upon l.is bed, and sincere gospel-repenting. I grant, true repentance is never too late ; but o! late repentance is feldom tue. True repentance is that which hath a care to walk holily, or hath work meet for repentance joined with it. Hence repentance is not only called 11etancia, a change of mind; but also Metamelia, an after care. Now for a death bed repentance, that hath 10 such holy care of good works, I know no promise in the Bible that annexeih salvation unto it.
Oljeil. II. “ Do not we read in Christ's parable of thelabcurers, :Iat. xx. that some were hired and brought into the vineyard at the eleventh hour, and got the fan e riward with thoss that were hired at the third and Exth hour?"
Ai1. These that were brought in so late, could szy for themselves, ver. 6. " that no man had hired them,” or bad oficted to hire them before; they did 110 foover hear the gospel call, and offers of salvation through Chrilt tendered to them. But O! this will
stand you in no stead, who have had many a call and offer made you at the third, fixth, and ninth hour, nd have refifted and refused them : you will not have it to say at the eleventh hour, as these had, “ No man hath hired us."
2. These men, though they came in but at the e. leventh hour, and not being sooner hired, yet they were labourers in the vineyart, and wrought one hour therein faithfully, in obedience to their Lord's command ; and so brought forth fome fruits meet for repentance, and were accepted. But this is no encon-, ragement to any to expect to be brought in at the twelfth hour, when there is no time to work, nor bring forth any fruits to testify the sincerity of their repente ance; we have no promise of acceptance made to such.
Obje&7. III. “ The penitent thief on the cross sought mercy from Christ at the last hour, and got it."
Anf. That is a singular instance, and gives no encouragement to delaying finners. The scriptures contain a history of more than four thousand years, and yet, during all that, we have but one example of a man that truly and sincerely repented when he came to die. And in this man's case there was such an extraordinary conjunction of circumstances, as never happened before, and can never fall out again to the end of the world. This man had the happiness to die close by the newly. pierced and bleeding wounds of a crucified Jesus, when he was lifted up from the earth in the height of his love, drawing finners to falvation ; which was a junction that can never have a parallel. Again, the man never had an offer of Christ, nor day of grace before now; he surrendered himself upon the very first call: and his faith in Christ at this time was truly fingular and miraculous. He was designed by Heavento be made a rare monuinent of the power of Christ's grace, and a special trophy of his victory over the devils and wicked men, at a time when they seemed to tiin umph over him, as one crucified through weakness. Ii 2