« AnteriorContinuar »
merly lay close. Thus doth the Spirit of conviction rend at der the heart, and its most beloved lusts. Joel ii. 13. “Reat y “ hearts, and not your garments :” That is, rather il your garments; for the feple is comparative, though the pression be begative. And this resting implies not only act pain, flesh canaot be rent asunder without anguish, aor yet or force and violence; the heart is a stubborn, and knotty piec and will not easily yield; but it also implies a disunion of par anited: As when a garment, or the earth, or any contiguou body is rent, those parts are feparated which formerly cleave together. Sin and the soul were glewed fast together before there was no parting of them, they would as foon part with their lives, as with their lusts; but now when the heart is rept from them truly, it is also rent from them everlastingly, Eæk. vii. 15, to 19.
(4.) The plow turns up, and discovers such thiogs as lay hid in the bofom of the earth before, and were covered under a fair green surface, from the eyes of men. Thus when the Lord plows up the heart of a fioner by conviction, then the secrets of his heart are made manifest, 2 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. the most secret and Chameful fins will then out; for “ the word of God is quick “ and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, the joiots and marrow, and is a disceraer of the thoughts and secret iorents
of the heart,” Heb. iv.-12. It makes the fire burn inwardly, so that the soul hath no rest till confeflion give a vent to trouble. Fain would the shuffling finger conceal and hide his shame, but the word follows him through all his sinful shifts, and brings him at last to be his own, both accuser, witness, and judge.
(5-) The work of the plow is but opus ordinabile, a preparative work in order to fruit
. Should the busbandman plow his ground ever so often, yet if the feed be pot cast in, and quickeaed, in vain is the harvelt expected. Thus conviction allo is but a preparative to a farther work upon the soul of a lioper; if it Stick there, and go no farther, it proves but an abortive, or untimely birth : Many have gone thus far, and there they have stuck ; they have been like a field plowed, but not lowed, which is a matter of trembling confideration; for hereby their fig is greatly aggravated, and their eternal wifery so much the more increased. O when a poor damped creature (hall with horror reflect
himself in hell, How near was. I once, under such a sermon, to conversion ! my lips were set in order before me, my conscience awakened, and terrified me with the guilt of them; many purposes and resolves I had then to turn to God, which,
had they been perfected by answerable executions, I had never come to this place of torment;, but there I stuck, and thai was my eternal vodoing. Many fouls have I known fo terrified with the guilt of sin, that they have come roaring under horrors of conscience to the preacher; so that one would thiok such a breach, had been made betwixt them and fin, as could never be reconciled; and yet as angry, as they were in that fit with fin, they have hugged and embraced it again.
(6.). It is beft plowing when the earth is prepared, and mollified by the showers of rain; then the work goes on sweetly and easily, and never doth the heart so kindly melt, as when the gospelclouds dissolve, and the free grace, and love of Jesus Christ comes sweetly showering down upon it; then it relents, and mouros ingenuously, Ezek. xvi. 63." That thou mayest remember, and si bé confounded, and vever open thy mouth any more, because " of thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee for all that " thou hast done.” So it was with that poor penitent, Luke vij. 38. when the Lord Jesus had discovered to her the fuperabounding riches of his grace, in the pardon of her manifold abornioations, her heart melted within her, she washed the feet of Christ with tears. And indeed, there is as much difference betwixt the tears which are forced by the terrors of the law, and those which are extracted by the grace of the gospel, as there is betwixt those of a condemned malefactor, who weeps to corsider the misery he is under, and those of a pardoned malefactor, that receives his pardon at the foot of the ladder, and is melted by the mercy and clemency of his gracious prince towards him.
(7.) The plow kills those rank weeds which grow in the field, turns them up by the roots, buries and rols them. So doth saving convictioo kill lia at the root, makes the foul fick of it, begets indignation in the heart against it, 2 Cor. vii. 11. The word 'Ayavantnow, there signifies the rifiog of the stomach, and being angry even unto sickness; religious wrath is the fiercest wrath, now the foul cannot endure fin, ii trembles at it. “I find a woman more bitter than death,” (faith penitent Solomon) Eccl. vii. 26. Conviction, like a surfeit, makes the foul to lothe what it formerly loved, and delighted in.
(8.) That field is not well plowed, where the plow jumps and skips over.good ground, and makes baulks, it must run up the whole field alike ; and that heart is not favingly convicted, wbere any lust is spared, and left untouched. Saving conviction extends itself to all fins, not only to fio in general, with this cold confeflion, I am a finner ; but to the particulars
fin, yea, to the particular circumstances and aggravations of time, place, mapper, occasions, thus and thus have I done; to the lio of nature, as well as practice : “ Behold I was fhapea “ in iniquity,” Plalm li. 5. There must be no baulking of any fin, the sparing of one lio, is a sure argument thou art pot truly humbled for any fin. So far is the convinced soul from a Audious concealment of a beloved fin, that it weeps over that, more than over any other actual fin.
(9.) New ground is much more easily plowed, than that which by long lying out of tillage is more consolidated, aod clung together, by deep-rooted thorns, and brambles, which render it difficult to the plowman. This old ground is like an old sinner, that hath lain a long time hardening under the means of grace. O the difficulty of convincing such a perfon!
O Gio hath got such rooting in his heart, he is fo habituated to the reproofs and calls of the word, that few such are wrought upon. How many young persons are called to one obdurate, inveterate finner ? I do not say but God may call home such a foul at the eleventh hour, but I may say of these, compared with others, as Solomon speaks, Ecclef. vii. 28.“ One man among a thousand “ have I found,”. &c. Few that have long resisted the gospel, that come afterwards to feel the saving efficacy thereof.
REFLECTIONS, The true convert's
1. O grace, for ever to be admired ! that
God should seqd forth his word and Spirit reflection
to plow up my hard and stooy heart ! yea, mine, when he hath left so many of more tender, ingenuous, fweet and melting tempers, without any culture or means of grace. Oblefied gospel, heart-diffolving voice! I have felt thine efficacy, I have experienced thy divine and irresistible power; thou art, indeed, sharper than any two-edged sword, and woundeft to the heart; but thy wounds are the wounds of a friend : All the wounds thou hast made in my soul, were so many doors opened to let in Christ; all the blows thou gavest my conscience, were but to beat off any foul from fio, which I embraced, and had retained to my everlasting ruin, hadft thou pot separated them and me. O wise, and merciful physician ! thou did it indeed bind me with cords of conviction and sorrow, but it was only to cut out that stone in my heart, which had killed me if it had continued there.. O how did I struggle and oppose thee, as if thou hadft come with the sword of an enemy, rather than the lance, and probe of a kilful and tender-hearted physician? Blelled be the day wherein my lio was discovered and embittered! Ohappy forrows, which prepared for foch matchless joys! O blested hand, which turned my salt waters into pleasant wine! and after many pangs, and forrows of foul, didft, at length, bring forth deliverance and peace.
2. But, О what a rock of adampant is this heart of mine! that never yet was
The Aubborn beart's wounded, and favingly pierced for fin
reflection. by the terrors of the law, or melting voice of the gospel! long have I sat under the word, but wheo did I feel a relenting pang? Omy foul! my stupified foul ! thou haft got an antidote against repentance, but hast thou any against hell? Thou caoft keep out the leofe of fio now, but art thou able to keep out the terrors of the Lord bereafter? If thou couldst turn a deaf ear to the sentence of Christ in the day of judgment, as easily as thou doft to the intreaties of Christ in the day of grace, it were somewhat; but surely there is ou defence against that. Ah! fool that I am, to quench these convictions, unless I knew how to quench those fames they warg me of. 3. And may not I challenge the first place a:
The miscarrying mong all the mourners in the world, who have all lost those convictions which at several times foul's reflection. came upon me under the word ? I have been often awakened by it, and filled with terrors add tremblings under it; but those troubles have food woro off again, and my heart (like water removed from the fire) returóed to its native coldoefs. Lord ! what a dismal cafe am I in! many convictions have I choaked, and strangled, which, it may be, fhall never more be revived, until thou revive them against me in judgment. I have been in pangs, and brought forth nothing but wiod; my troubles have wrought to deliverance, neither have my losts fallen before them? My conscience, indeed, hath been sometimes fick with fin, yea, fo fick as to vomit them up by an external, partial reformation ; but then, with the dog, have I turned again to my vomit, and now I doubt I am given over to an heart that cannot repent. On that these travelling pangs could be quickened again! but alas! they are cealed. I am like a prisoner
. escaped, and agaio recovered, whom the jaylor loads with double irons. Surely, O my soul! if thy spiritual troubles return not again, they are but gone back to bring eternal troubles. It is with thee, O my soul ! as with a man whose bones have been broken, and not well fet; who must, (how terrible foever it apo pear to him) endure the pain of breaking and setting them again, if ever he be made a found man. O that I might rather chuse to be the object of thy wounding mercy, than of thy sparing
cruelty ! if thou plow not up my heart again by compunction, I know it must be rent in pieces at last by desperation.
The POE M.
For if too fhallow, or too deep he goes,