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merly lay close. Thus doth the Spirit of conviction rend afurder the heart, and its most beloved lufts. Joel ii. 13. “Reot your “ hearts, and not your garments :” That is, rather ihaa your garments; for the feple is comparative, though the expression be uegative. And this resting implies pot only acute pain, flesh cannot be rent asunder without anguish, por yet only force and violence; the heart is a stubborn, and knotty piece, and will not easily yield; but it also implies a disunion of parts united: As when a garment, or the earth, or any contiguous body is rent, those parts are feparated which formerly cleaved 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 reat from them truly, it is also rent from them everlastingly, Exk. 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 shameful 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 foul and spirit, the joiots and
marrow, and is a discerger of the thoughts and secret iorents “ of the heart,” Heb. iv. 1 2. It makes the fire bura in wardly, so that the soul hath no rest till confession give a vent to trouble. Fain would the shuffling finner conceal and hide his shame, but the word follows him through all his finful shifts, and brings him at last to be his own, both accufer, witness, and judge.
(5-) The work of the plow is but opus ordinabile, a prepara tive work in order to fruit. Should the busbandman plow his ground ever so often, yet if the feed be not calt in, and quickened, in vain is the harvest expected. Thus conviction alio is but a preparative to a farther work upon the soul of a singer; if it stick there, and go ao farther, it proves but an abortive, or untimely birth : Many have gone thus far, and there they have ftuck ; they have been like a field plowed, but not fowed, 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 shall with horror reflect upon himself in hell, How near was. I once, under such -a fermon, to conversion ! ny los 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 tura to God, which,
had they been perfected by answerable executions, I had never come to this place of tormcat; but there I fuck, and that was my eternal vodoing. Many souls have I known fo terrified with the guilt of lio, chat they have come roaring uader borrors 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 best plowing when the earth is prepared, and mollified by the showers of rain ; then the work goes on sweetiy aod easily, and never doth the heart so kindly melt, as when the gospelclouds diffolve, and the free grace, and love of Jesus Chrift comes sweetly showering down upon it; then it relents, and mouros ingenuously, Ezek. xvi. 63." That thou mayest remember, and s be confounded, and never 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 Jefus had discovered to her the fuperabounding riches of his grace, in the pardon of her manifold aboinipatioas, 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 con• sider 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 saviog cooviction kill sia at the root, makes the foul fick of it, begets indignation in the heart against it, 2 Cor. vii. 11. The word 'Ayatvaxthai, there signifies the rising of the stomach, and being angry even unto sickness; religious wrath is the fiercest wrath, now the foul cannot endure fin, it trembles at it. "I find a woman more bitter than death,” (faith penitent Solomon) Eccl. vii. 26. Conviction, like a surfeit, makes the soul 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 coaviction extends itself to all fins, not only to fio in general, with this cold confeflion, I am a finner ; but to the particulars of fin, yea, to the particular circumstances and aggravations of time, place, mapper, occafions, thus and thus have I done; to the lio of nature, as well as practice : “ Behold I was shapen « in iniquity,” Plalm li. 5. There must be no baulking of any fin, the spariog of one sin, is a fure argument thou art not truly humbled for any lin. So far is the convinced soul from a tudious 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 confolidated, and clung together, by deep-rooted thoros, and brambles, which render it difficult to the plowman. This old ground is like an old linger, that hath lain a long time hardening under the means of grace. O the difficulty of convincing such a perfon! fio hath got such rooting in his heart, he is so 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 sioner? I do not say but God may call home such a soul at the eleventh hour, but I may say of these, compared with others, as Solomon speaks, Eccles. vii. 28. “One man among a thousand “ have I found," &c. Few that have long refifted 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 ferd forth his word and Spirit reflection
to plow up my hard aad Rooy heart ! yea, mine, when he hath left so many of more tender, ingenuous, fweet and melting tempers, without any culture or means of grace. O blessed gospel, heart-dissolving voice! I have felt thine efficacy, I have experienced thy divine and irresistible power; thou art, indeed, sharper than any two-edged sword, and woundest 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 gaveft my conscience, were but to beat off iny foul from sin, which I embraced, and had retained to my everlasting ruin, hadst thou not separated them and me. O wife, and merciful physician ! thou didit 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 shere. O how did I ftruggle and oppose thee, as if thou hadlt come with the sword of an enemy, rather than the lance, and probe of a skilful and tender-hearted physician? Blessed be the day wherein my fin was discovered and embittered! O happy forrows, which pre
pared 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 adarnapt is this heart of mine ! that never yet was
The Aubborn heart's wounded, and savingly 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? O my foul! my stupified foul! thou haft got an antidote against repentance, but hast thou any against hell? Thou caoft keep out the seose of fio Dow, but art thou able to keep out the terrors of the Lord hereafter ? If thou couldst turn a deaf ear to the sentence of Christ in the day of judgment, as easily as thou dost to the intreaties of Christ in the day of grace,
it were fomewhat; but surely there is ou defence against that. Ah! fool that I am, to quench these convictions, voless I knew how to quench those Aames they warg me of. 3. And may not I challenge the firft place a:
The miscarrying mong all the mourners in the world, who have all lort 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 and tremblings ander it; but those troubles have food word off again, and my heart (like water removed from the fire) returbed to its native coldoefs. Lord ! what a dismal cafe am I in many convictions have I choaked, and straogled, which, it may be, fhall never more be revived, until thou i evive them against me in judgmeatI have beeo in pangs, and brought forth nothing but wind; my troubles have wrought no deliverance, neither have my lurts fallen before them? My conscience, indeed, hath been fometimes fick with fin, yea, fo fick as to vomit them up by an exterpal, 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 ceated. I am like a prisoner escaped, and again recovered, whom the jaylor loads with double irons. Surely, O my soul! if thy spiritual troubles return noc 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 souod man. O that I might rather chule 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 reat in pieces at last by desperation.
The PO E M.
THERE's kill in plowing, that the plowman knows,
For if too fhallow, or too deep he goes,