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A Call to the Unconverted

A Call to the Unconverted
By Richard Baxter

SERMON I.

   Ezek. xxxiii. 11.

   Say to them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the
   death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
   Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for, why will ye die, O house of
   Israel?

   IT hath been the astonishing wonder of many a man, as well as me, to
   read in the holy Scripture, how few will be saved; and that the
   greatest part, even of those that are called, will be everlastingly
   shut out of the kingdom of heaven, and be tormented with the devils in
   eternal fire. Infidels believe not this when they read it, and
   therefore they must feel it. Those that do believe it are forced to cry
   out with Paul, Rom. xi. 33, “O the depth of the riches both of the
   wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and
   his ways past finding out!” but nature itself doth teach us all to lay
   the blame of evil works upon the doers, and therefore, when we see any
   heinous thing done, a principle of justice doth provoke us to inquire
   after him that did it, that the evil of the work may return the evil of
   shame upon the author. If we saw a man killed and cut in pieces we
   would presently ask, “Oh! who did this cruel deed?” If the town was
   wilfully set on fire, you would ask, “what wicked wretch did this?” So
   when we read that most will be firebrands of hell for ever, we must
   needs think with ourselves, how comes this to pass? and who is it long
   of? who is it that is so cruel as to be the cause of such a thing as
   this? and we can meet with few that will own the guilt. It is indeed
   confessed by all that Satan is the cause: but that doth not resolve the
   doubt, because he is not the principal cause. He doth not force men to
   sin, but tempt them to it; and leaves it to their own wills whether
   they will do it or not: he doth not carry men to an alehouse and force
   open their mouths, and pour in the drink; nor doth he hold them that
   they cannot go to God’s service; nor doth he force their hearts from
   holy thoughts. It lieth therefore between God himself and the sinner;
   one of them must needs be the principal cause of all this misery,
   whichever it is; for there is no other to cast it upon; and God
   disclaimeth it; he will not take it upon him: and the wicked disclaim
   it usually, and they will not take it upon them. And this is the
   controversy that is here managed in my text.

   The Lord complaineth of the people; and the people think it is the
   fault of God. The same controversy is handled, chap. xvii. ver. 25.
   where they plainly say, “that the way of the Lord is not equal:” and
   God saith, “it is their ways that are not equal.” So here they say, in
   verse 9, “If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine
   away in them, how shall we then live?” As if they should say, if we
   must die, and be miserable, how can we help it? as if it were not long
   of them, but God. But God in my text doth clear himself of it, and
   telleth them how they may help it if they will, and persuadeth them to
   use means, and if they will not be persuaded, he lets them know that it
   is long of themselves; and, if this will not satisfy them, he will not
   therefore forbear to punish them. It is he that will be their judge,
   and he will judge them according to their ways; they are no judges of
   him or themselves, as wanting authority, and wisdom, and impartiality.
   Nor is it the cavilling with God, that shall serve their turn, or save
   them from the execution of justice, at which they murmur.

   The words of this verse contain: 1. God’s clearing of himself from the
   blame of their destruction. This he doth not by disowning his judgments
   and execution according to that law, or by giving them any hope that
   the law shall not be executed; but by professing that it is not their
   death that he takes pleasure in, but their returning rather, that they
   may live: and this he confirmeth to them by his oath. 2. An express
   exhortation to the wicked to return, wherein God doth not only command,
   but persuade and condescend also to reason the case with them, why will
   they die? The direct end of his exhortation is, that they may turn and
   live. The secondary or reserved ends, upon supposition that this is not
   attained, are these two: First, to convince them by the means which he
   used, that it is not the long of God if they be miserable. Secondly, to
   convince them from their manifest wilfulness in rejecting all his
   commands and persuasions, that it is the long of themselves; and they
   die, because they will die.

   The substance of the text doth lie in these observations following.

   Doct. 1. It is the unchangeable law of God, that wicked men must turn
   or die.

   Doct. 2. It is the promise of God, that the wicked shall live, if they
   will but turn.

   Doct. 3. God taketh pleasure in men’s conversion and salvation; but not
   in their death or damnation: he had rather they would return and live,
   than go on and die.

   Doct. 4. This is a most certain truth, which because God would not have
   men to question, he hath confirmed it to them solemnly by his oath.

   Doct. 5. The Lord doth redouble his commands and persuasions to the
   wicked to turn

   Doct. 6. The Lord condescendeth to reason the case with them, and
   asketh the wicked, why they will die?

   Doct. 7. If after all this the wicked will not turn, it is not the long
   of God that they perish, but of themselves; their own wilfulness is the
   cause of their damnation; they therefore die, because they will die.

   Having laid the text open before your eyes in these plain propositions,
   I shall next speak somewhat of each of them in order, though briefly.

   Doct. 1. It is the unchangeable law of God, that wicked men must turn
   or die.

   If you will believe God, believe this: there is but one of these two
   ways for every wicked man, either conversion or damnation. I know the
   wicked will hardly be persuaded either of the truth or equity of this.
   No wonder if the guilty quarrel with the law. Few men are apt to
   believe that which they would not have to be true, and fewer would have
   that to be true, which they apprehend to be against them. But it is not
   quarrelling with the law, or with the judge, that will save the
   malefactor. Believing and regarding the law, might have prevented his
   death; but denying and accusing it will but hasten it. If it were not
   so, a hundred would bring their reason against the law, for one that
   would bring his reason to the law. And men would rather give their
   reasons, why they should not be punished, than to hear the commands and
   reasons of their governors which require them to obey. The law was not
   made for you to judge, but that you might be ruled and judged by it.

   But, if there be any so blind as to venture to question either the
   truth or the justice of this law of God, I shall briefly give you that
   evidence of both, which methinks should satisfy a reasonable man.

   And first, if you doubt whether this be the word of God or not, besides
   a hundred other texts, you may be satisfied by these few.–Matt. xviii.
   5. “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little
   children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”–John iii. 3.
   “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again he cannot
   see the kingdom of God.”–2 Cor. v. 17. “If any man be in Christ, he is
   a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are
   become new.”–Col. iii. 9, 10. “Ye have put off the old man with his
   deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge,
   after the image of him that created him.”–Heb. xii. 14. “Without
   holiness no man shall see God.”–Rom. viii. 8, 9. “So, then they that
   are in the flesh cannot please God.”–“Now if any man have not the
   spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”–Gal. vi. 45. “For in Christ
   Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but a
   new creature.”–1 Pet. i. 3. “According to his abundant grace he hath
   begotten us to a lively hope.”–Verse 23. “Being born again not of
   corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which
   liveth and abideth for ever.”–1 Pet. ii. 1, 2. “Wherefore laying aside
   malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil speaking:
   as new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow
   thereby.”–Psal. ix. 17. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all
   the nations that forget God.”–Psal. xi. 5. “And the Lord loveth the
   righteous, but the wicked his soul hateth.”

   As I need not stay to open these texts, which are so plain, so I think
   I need not add any more of that multitude which speak the like. If thou
   be a man that dost believe the word of God, here is already enough to
   satisfy thee, that the wicked must be converted or condemned. You are
   already brought so far, that you must either confess that this is true,
   or say plainly you will not believe the word of God. And, if once you
   come to that pass, there are but small hopes of you: look to yourselves
   as well as you can, for, it is likely you will not be long out of hell.
   You would be ready to fly in the face of him that should give you the
   lie; and yet dare you give the lie to God? But if you tell God plainly
   you will not believe him, blame him not if he never warn you more, or
   if he forsake you, and give you up as hopeless. For to what purpose
   should he warn you, if you will not believe him? Should he send an
   angel from heaven to you, it seems you would not believe. For an angel
   can speak but the word of God; and, if an angel should bring you any
   other gospel, you are not to receive it, but to hold him accursed (Gal.
   i. 8). And surely there is no angel to be believed before the Son of
   God, who came from the Father to bring us this doctrine. If he be not
   to be believed, then all the angels in heaven are not to be believed.
   And if you stand on these terms with God, I shall leave you till he
   deal with you in a more convincing way. God hath a voice that will make
   you hear. Though he intreat you to hear the voice of his gospel, he
   will make you hear the voice of his condemning sentence, without
   intreaty. We cannot make you believe against your will; but God will
   make you feel against your will.

   But let us hear what reason you have, why you will not believe this
   word of God, which tells us that the wicked must be converted or
   condemned. I know your reason; it is because that you judge it unlikely
   that God should be so unmerciful: you think it cruelty to damn men
   everlastingly for so small a thing as a sinful life. And this leads us
   to the second thing, which is, to justify the equity of God in his laws
   and judgments.

   And first, I think you will not deny but that it is most suitable to an
   immortal soul to be ruled by laws that promise an eternal reward and
   threaten an endless punishment. Otherwise the law should not be suited
   to the nature of the subject, who will not be fully ruled by any lower
   means than the hopes or fears of everlasting things: As it is in case
   of temporal punishment; if a law were now made, that the most heinous
   crimes shall be punished with a hundred years captivity, this might be
   of some efficacy, as being equal to our lives. But, if there had been
   no other penalties before the flood, when men lived eight or nine
   hundred years, it would not have been sufficient, because men would
   know that they might have so many hundred years impunity afterwards. So
   it is in the present case.

   2. I suppose that you will confess, that the promise of an endless and
   inconceivable glory is not so unsuitable to the wisdom of God, or the
   case of man. And why then should you not think so of the threatening of
   an endless and unspeakable misery?

   3. When you find it in the word of God that so it is, and so it will
   be, do you think yourselves fit to contradict this word?–Will you call
   your Maker to the bar, and examine his word upon the accusation or
   falsehood? Will you set upon him, and judge him by the law of your
   conceits? Are you wiser, and better, and more righteous than he? Must
   the God of heaven come to you to learn wisdom? Must infinite wisdom
   learn of folly? and infinite Holiness be corrected by a selfish sinner
   that cannot keep himself an hour clean? Must the Almighty stand at the
   bar of a worm? O! horrid arrogance of senseless dust! Shall every mole,
   or clod, or dunghill, accuse the sun of darkness, and undertake to
   illuminate the world? Where were you when the Almighty made these laws,
   that he did not call you to his counsel? Surely he made them before you
   were born, without desiring your advice! and you came into the world
   too late to reverse them. If you could have done so great a work, you
   should have stepped out of your nothingness, and have contradicted
   Christ when he was on earth, or Moses before him, or have saved Adam
   and his sinful progeny from the threatened death, that so there might
   have been no need of Christ! And what if God withdraw his patience and
   sustenation, and let you drop into hell while you are quarrelling with
   his word?–Will you then believe that there is no hell?

   4. If sin be such an evil that it requires the death of Christ for its
   expiation, no wonder if it deserve our everlasting misery.

   5. And if the sin of the devils deserved an endless torment, why not
   also the sin of man?

   6. And methinks you should perceive, that it is not possible for the
   best of men, much less for the wicked, to be competent judges of the
   desert of sin. Alas! We are both blind and partial. You can never know
   fully the desert of sin till you fully know, the evil of sin: and you
   can never fully know the evil of sin till you fully know, 1 The
   excellency of the soul, which it deformeth: 2. And the excellency of
   holiness, which it doth obliterate: 3. And the reason and excellency of
   the glory, which it violateth: And 4. the excellency of the glory which
   it doth despise: And, 5. the excellency and office of reason, which it
   treadeth down: 6. No, nor till you know the infinite excellency,
   almightiness and holiness, of that God, against whom it is committed.
   When you fully know all these, you shall fully know the desert of sin.
   Besides, you know that the offender is too partial to judge the law or
   the proceedings of the judge. We judge by feeling, which blinds our
   reason. We see, in common worldly things, that most men think the cause
   is right which is their own; and that all is wrong that is done against
   them; and let the most wise, or just impartial friends persuade them to
   the contrary, and it is all in vain. There are few children but think
   the father is unmerciful, or dealeth hardly with them, if he whip them.
   There is scarce the vilest wretch, but thinketh the church doth wrong
   him, if they excommunicate him; or scarce a thief or murderer that is
   hanged, but would accuse the law and judge of cruelty, if that would
   serve his turn.

   7. Can you think that an unholy soul is fit for heaven? Alas! they
   cannot love God there, nor do him any service which he can accept. They
   are contrary to God; they loathe that which he most loveth; and love
   that which he abhoreth: they are incapable of that imperfect communion
   with him; which his saints do here partake of. How then can they live
   in that perfect love of him, and full delight and communion with him,
   which is the blessedness of heaven? You do not accuse yourselves of
   unmercifulness, if you make not your enemy your bosom counsellor; and
   yet you will blame the absolute Lord, the most wise and gracious
   Sovereign of the world, if he condemn the unconverted to perpetual
   misery.

   USE.

   I beseech you now, all that love your souls, that instead of
   quarrelling with God, and with his word, you will presently stoop to
   it, and use it for good. All you that are unconverted in this assembly,
   take this as the undoubted truth of God; you must ere long be converted
   or condemned; there is no other way, but to turn or die. When God that
   cannot lie hath told you this; when you hear it from the Maker and
   Judge of the world, it is time for him that hath ears to hear. By this
   time you may see what you have to trust to. You are but dead and damned
   men, except you will be converted. Should I tell you otherwise, I
   should deceive you with a lie.–Should I hide this from you, I should
   undo you, and be guilty of your blood, as the verses before my text
   assure me: ver. 8. “When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shalt
   surely die, if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way,
   that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require
   at thy hand.”–You see then, though this be a rough and unwelcome
   doctrine, it is such as we must preach, and you must hear. It is easier
   to hear of hell than feel it. If your necessities did not require it,
   we would not gall your tender ears with truths that seem so harsh and
   grievous. Hell would not be so full, if people were but willing to know
   their case, and to hear and think of it. The reason why so few escape
   it is, because they strive not to enter in at the strait gate of
   conversion, and go the narrow way of holiness while they have time; and
   they strive not, because they are not awakened to a lively feeling of
   the danger they are in; and they are not awakened, because they are
   loathe to hear or think of it, and that is partly through foolish
   tenderness and carnal self-love, and partly because they do not well
   believe the word that threateneth it.–If you will not thoroughly
   believe this truth, methinks the weight of it should force you to
   remember it; and it should follow you, and give you no rest, till you
   are converted. If you had but once heard this word, by the voice of an
   angel, “Thou must be converted, or condemned; turn, or die” would it
   not stick in your mind, and haunt you night and day, so that in your
   sinning you would remember it, as if the voice were still in your ears,
   “turn, or die!” O happy were your souls if it might thus work with you,
   and never be forgotten or let you alone till it have driven home your
   heart to God. But if you will cast it out by forgetfulness or unbelief,
   how can it work to your conversion and salvation? But take this with
   you to your sorrow, though you may put this out of your minds, you
   cannot put it out of the Bible; but there it will stand as a settled
   truth, which you shall experimentally know forever, that there is no
   other way but, turn, or die.

   O what is the matter then, that the hearts of sinners be not pierced
   with such a weighty truth! A man would think now, that every
   unconverted soul that hears these words should be pricked to the heart,
   and think with themselves, this is my own case, and never be quiet till
   they found themselves converted.–Believe it, Sirs, this drowsy
   careless temper will not last long. Conversion and condemnation are
   both of them awakening things. I can foretel it as truly as if I saw it
   with my eyes, that either grace or hell will shortly bring these
   matters to the quick, and make you say, “What have I done? what a
   foolish wicked course have I taken?” The scornful and the stupid state
   of sinners, will last but a little while, As soon as they either turn
   or die, the presumptuous dream will be at an end, and then their wits
   and feeling will return.

   But I foresee there are two things that are likely to harden the
   unconverted, and make me lose all my labour, except they can be taken
   out of the way: and that is, the misunderstanding on those two words:
   [the wicked] and [turn.] Some will think to themselves, it is true, the
   wicked must turn or die; but what is that to me? I am not wicked,
   though I am a sinner, as all men are. Others will think, “it is true
   that we must turn from our evil ways; but I am turned long ago: I hope
   this is not now to do.” And thus, while wicked men think they are not
   wicked, but are already converted, we lose all our labour in persuading
   them to turn. I shall therefore, before I go any farther, tell you here
   who are meant by the wicked, and who they are that must turn or die;
   and also what is meant by turning, and who they are that are truly
   converted. And this I have purposely reserved for this place,
   preferring the method that fits my end.

   And here you may observe, that, in the sense of the text, a wicked man
   and a converted man are contraries. No man is a wicked man that is
   converted, and no man is a converted man that is wicked; so that to be
   a wicked man, and to be an unconverted man, is all one. And therefore
   in opening one, we shall open both.

   Before I can tell you what either wickedness or conversion is, I must
   go to the bottom, and fetch up the matter from the beginning.

   It pleased the great Creator of the world to make three sorts of living
   creatures.–Angels he made pure spirits, without flesh, and therefore
   he made them only for heaven, and not to dwell on earth. Beasts were
   made flesh, without immortal souls, and therefore they were made only
   for the earth, and not for heaven: Man is of a middle nature between
   both, as partaking of both flesh and spirit, so is he made for earth,
   but as his passage or way to heaven, and not that this should be his
   home or happiness. The blessed state that man was made for was to
   behold the glorious majesty of the Lord, and to praise him among his
   holy angels; and to love him, and to be filled with his love forever.
   And as this was the end that man was made for, so God did give him
   means that were fitted to the attaining of it. These means were
   principally two: First, the right disposition of the mind of man;
   Secondly, the right ordering of his life. For the first, God suited the
   disposition of man unto the end; giving him such knowledge of God as
   was fit for his present state, and a heart inclined to God in holy
   love. But yet he did not fix or confirm him in this condition; but,
   having made him a free agent, he left him in the hands of his own free
   will. For the second, God did that which belongeth to him: that is, he
   gave man a perfect law, requiring him to continue in the love of God,
   and perfectly to obey him. By the wilful breach of this law, man did
   not only forfeit his hopes of everlasting life, but also turned his
   heart from God, and fixed it on these lower fleshly things, and hereby
   did blot out our spiritual image of God, from the soul: So that man did
   both fall short of the glory of God, which was his end, and put himself
   out of the way by which he should have attained it; and this both as to
   the frame of his heart, and of his life. The holy inclination and love
   of his soul to God, he lost, and instead of it, he contracted an
   inclination and love to the pleasing of his flesh, or carnal self, by
   earthly things; growing strange to God, and acquainted with the
   creature: and the course of this life was suited to the inclination of
   his heart; he lived to his carnal self, and not to God, he sought the
   creature, for the pleasing of his flesh, instead of seeking to please
   the Lord. With this nature, or corrupt inclination, we are all now born
   into the world; for, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?”
   Job xiv. 4. As a lion hath a fierce and cruel nature before it doth
   devour; and an adder hath a venomous nature before she sting; so in our
   infancy we have those sinful natures, or inclinations, before we think,
   or speak, or do amiss: and hence springeth all the sin of our lives.
   And not only so, but when God hath of his mercy provided us a remedy,
   even the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of our souls, and bring us
   back to God again, we naturally love our present state, and are loathe
   to be brought out of it, and therefore are set against the means of our
   recovery. And, though custom have taught us to thank Christ for his
   good will, yet carnal self persuadeth us to refuse his remedies, and to
   desire to be excused when we are commanded to take the medicines which
   he offereth, and are called to forsake all and follow him to God and
   glory.

   I pray you read over this leaf again, and mark it: for in these few
   words you have a true description of our natural state, and
   consequently of a wicked man. For every man that is in this state of
   corrupted nature is a wicked man, and in a state of death.

   By this also you are prepared to understand what it is to be converted;
   to which end you must farther know, that the mercy of God, not willing
   that man should perish in his sin, provided a remedy, by causing his
   Son to take our nature, and being in one person God and man, to become
   a mediator between God and man; and, by dying for our sins on the
   cross, to ransom us from the curse of God and the power of the devil:
   and, having thus redeemed us, the Father has delivered us into his
   hands as his own. Hereupon the Father and the Mediator do make a new
   law and covenant for man: not like the first, which gave life to none
   but the perfectly obedient, and condemned man for every sin; but Christ
   hath made a law of grace, or a promise of pardon and everlasting life
   to all, that, by true repentance and by faith in Christ, are converted
   unto God. Like an act of oblivion which is made by a prince to a
   company of rebels, on condition they lay down their arms and come in,
   and be loyal subjects for the time to come.

   But, because the Lord knoweth that the heart of man is grown so wicked,
   that for all this men will not accept of the remedy, if they be left to
   themselves; therefore that Holy Ghost hath undertaken it as his office,
   to inspire the apostles, and seal up the scriptures by miracles and
   wonders, and to illuminate and convert the sons of the elect.

   So that by this much you see, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy
   Ghost, have each their several works, which are eminently ascribed to
   them.

   The Father’s works were to create us, to rule us as his rational
   creatures, by the law of nature, and judge us thereby, and in mercy to
   provide us a Redeemer, when we were lost, and to send his Son, and
   accept his ransom.

   The works of the Son for us were these; to ransom and redeem us by his
   sufferings and righteousness, to give out the promise or law of grace,
   and rule and judge the world as their Redeemer, on terms of grace, and
   to make intercession for us, that the benefit of his death may be
   communicated; and to send the Holy Ghost, which the Father also doth by
   the Son. The works of the Holy Ghost for us are these; to indite the
   holy scriptures, by inspiring and guiding the prophets and apostles,
   and sealing the word by his miraculous gifts and works; and the
   illuminating and exciting the ordinary ministers of the gospel, and so
   enabling them and helping them to publish that word; and, by the same
   word, illuminating and converting the souls of men. So that, as you
   could not have been reasonable creatures if the Father had not created
   you; nor have had any access to God if the Son had not redeemed you; so
   neither can you have a part in Christ, or be saved, except the Holy
   Ghost do sanctify you.

   So that by this time you may see the several causes of this work:– The
   Father sendeth his Son: the Son redeemeth us, and maketh the promise of
   grace; the Holy Ghost inditeth and sealeth this gospel; the apostles
   are the secretaries of the Spirit to write it; the preachers of the
   gospel to proclaim it, and persuade men to obey it; and the Holy Ghost
   doth make their preaching effectual, by opening the hearts of men to
   entertain it; and all this to repair the image of God upon the soul,
   and to set the heart upon God again, and take it off the creature and
   carnal self to which it is revolted, and so turn the current of the
   life into a heavenly course, which before was earthly, and all this by
   the entertainment of Christ by Faith, who is the physician of the soul.

   By what I have said, you may see what it is to be wicked, and what it
   is to be converted; which I think will yet be plainer to you, if I
   describe them as consisting of their several parts; and, for the first,
   a wicked man may be known by these three things.

   First, he is one who places his chief content on earth, and loveth the
   creature more than God, and his fleshly prosperity above the heavenly
   felicity: He favoureth the things of the flesh, but neither discerneth
   nor savoureth the things of the spirit:–Though he will say, that
   heaven is better than earth, yet doth not really so esteem it to
   himself; if he might be sure of earth, he would let go heaven, and had
   rather stay here than be removed thither. A life of perfect holiness,
   in the sight of God, and in his love and praise for ever in heaven,
   doth not find such liking, with his heart, as a life of health, and
   wealth, and honour, here upon earth. And though he falsely profess that
   he loveth God above all, yet indeed he never felt the power of divine
   love within him, but his mind is more set on the world, or fleshly
   pleasures than on God. In a word, whoever loveth earth above heaven,
   and fleshly prosperity more than God, is a wicked unconverted man.

   On the other hand, a converted man is illuminated to discern the
   loveliness of God; and so far believeth the glory that is to be had
   with God, that his heart is taken up to it, and set more upon it, than
   any thing in this world. He had rather see the face of God, and live in
   his everlasting love and praises, than have all the wealth or pleasures
   of the world; he seeth that all things else are vanity, and nothing but
   God can fill the soul, and therefore, let the world go which way it
   will, he layeth up his treasures and hopes in heaven, and for that he
   resolves to let go all. As the fire doth mount upwards, and the needle
   that is touched with the loadstone still turneth to the north, so the
   converted soul is inclined to God. Nothing else can satisfy him, nor
   can he find any content and rest but in his love. In a word, all that
   are converted do esteem and love God better than all the world; and the
   heavenly felicity is dearer to them than their fleshly prosperity. The
   proof of what I have said you may find in these places of scripture:
   Phil. iii. 18, 21. Matt. vi. 19, 20, 21. Col. iii. 1, 2, 4, 5. Rom.
   viii. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 18, 23. Psal. lxxiii. 25, 26.

   Secondly, a wicked man is one that maketh it the principal business of
   his life to prosper in the world, and attain his fleshly ends. And
   though he may read and hear, and do much in the outward duties of
   religion, and forbear disgraceful sins, yet this is all but the by, and
   he never makes it the principal business of his life to please God, and
   attain everlasting glory, and puts off God with the leavings of the
   world, and gives him no more service than the flesh can spare; for he
   will not part with all for heaven.

   On the contrary, a converted man is one that makes it the principal
   care and business of his life to please God, and to be saved, and takes
   all the blessings of this life but as accommodations in his journey
   towards another life, and useth the creature in subordination to God:
   he loveth a holy life, and longeth to be more holy: he hath no sin but
   what he hateth, and longeth, and prayeth, and striveth to be rid of.
   The drift and bent of his life is for God; and, if he sin, it is
   contrary to the very bent of his heart and life, and therefore he rises
   again and lamenteth it, and dares not wilfully live in any known sin.
   There is nothing in this world so dear to him but he can give it up to
   God, and forsake it for him, and the hopes of glory.–All this you may
   see in Col. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Matt. vi. 20, 33. Luke xviii. 22, 23,
   29. Luke xiv. 18, 24, 26, 27. Rom. viii. 13. Gal. v. 24. Luke xii. 21,
   &c.

   Thirdly, the soul of a wicked man did never truly discern and relish
   the mystery of redemption, nor thankfu1ly entertain an offered Saviour;
   nor is he taken up with the love of the Redeemer, nor willing to be
   ruled by him as the physician of his soul, that he may be saved from
   the guilt and power of his sins, and recovered unto God; but his heart
   is insensible of this unspeakable benefit, and is quite against the
   healing means by which he should be recovered. Though he may be willing
   to be carnally religious, yet he never resigneth up his soul to Christ,
   and to the motion and conduct of his word and spirit.

   On the contrary, the converted soul having felt himself undone by sin,
   and perceiving that he hath lost his peace with God, and hopes of
   heaven, and is in danger of everlasting misery, doth thankfully
   entertain the tidings of redemption, and, believing in the Lord Jesus
   as his only Saviour, resigneth up himself to him for wisdom,
   righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; he taketh Christ as the
   life of his soul, and liveth by him, and useth him as a salve for every
   sore, admiring the wisdom and love of God in this wonderful work of
   man’s redemption. In a word, Christ doth even dwell in his heart by
   faith, and the life that he now liveth is by the faith of the Son of
   God, that he hath loved him, and gave himself for him; yea, it is not
   so much he that liveth, as Christ in him. For these, see Job i. 11, 12,
   and iii. 20. John xv. 2, 3, 4. 1 Cor. i. 20, and ii. 2.

   You see now in plain terms, from the word of God, who are the wicked
   and who are the converted. Ignorant people think that if a man be no
   swearer, nor curser, nor railer, nor drunkard, nor fornicator, nor
   extortioner, nor wrong any body in their dealings, and if they come to
   church, and say their prayers, receive the sacrament, and sometimes
   extend their hands to the relief of the poor, these cannot be
   unconverted men. Or if a man, that hath been guilty of drunkenness, or
   swearing, or gaming, or the like vices, do but forbear them for the
   time to come, they think that this is a converted man.–Others think,
   if a man, that hath been an enemy and scorner at godliness, do but
   approve it, and join himself with those that are godly, and be hated
   for it by the wicked, as the godly are, that this must needs be a
   converted man. And some are so foolish as to think that they are
   converted by taking up some new opinion. And some think, if they have
   but been affrighted by the fears of hell, and had conviction and
   tortures of conscience, and thereupon have purposed and promised
   amendment, and take up a life of civil behaviour and outward religion,
   that this must needs be true conversion. And these are the poor deluded
   souls that are like to lose the benefit of all our persuasions; and,
   when they hear that the wicked must turn or die, they think that this
   is not spoken to them; for they are not wicked, but are turned already.
   And therefore it is that Christ told some of the rulers of the Jews who
   were graver and civiler than the common people, that “publicans and
   harlots go into the kingdom of Christ before them,” Matt. xxi. 31. Not
   that a harlot or gross sinner can be saved without conversion, but
   because it was easier to make these gross sinners perceive their sin
   and misery, and the necessity of a change, than the civiler sort delude
   themselves by thinking that they are converted already, when they are
   not.

   O sirs, conversion is another kind of work than most are aware of; it
   is not a small matter to bring an earthly mind to heaven, and to shew
   man the amiable excellencies of God, till he be taken up in such love
   to him, that can never be quenched; to break the heart for sin, and
   make him fly for refuge to Christ, and thankfully embrace him as the
   life of his soul; to have the very drift and bent of the heart and life
   changed; so that a man renounceth that which he took for felicity, and
   placeth his felicity where he never did before, and liveth not to the
   same end, and driveth not on the same design in the world, as he
   formerly did: in a word, he that is in Christ is a new creature: “old
   things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. v.
   17). He hath a new understanding, a new will and resolution, new
   sorrows, and desires, and love, and delight: new thoughts, new
   speeches, new company, (if possible) and new conversation. Sin, that
   was before a jesting matter with him, is now so odious and terrible to
   him, that he flies from it as from death. The world, that was so lovely
   in his eyes, doth now appear but as vanity and vexation: God, that was
   before neglected, is now the only happiness of his soul; before he was
   forgotten, and every lust preferred before him: but now he is set next
   the heart, and all things must give place to him, and the heart is
   taken up in the attendance and observance of him, and is grieved when
   be hides his face, and never thinks itself well without him. Christ
   himself, that was wont to be slightly thought of, is now his only hope
   and refuge, and he liveth upon him as on his daily bread; he cannot
   pray without him, nor rejoice without him, nor think, nor speak, nor
   live without him.–Heaven itself, that before was looked upon but as a
   tolerable reserve which he hoped might serve his turn better than hell,
   when he could not stay any longer in the world, is now taken for his
   home, the place of his only hope and rest, where he shall see, and
   love, and praise that God that hath his heart already. Hell, that
   before did seem but as a bug bear to frighten men from sin, doth now
   appear to be a real misery, that is not to be ventured on, nor jested
   with.–The works of holiness, which before he was weary of, and seemed
   to be more ado than needs, are now both his recreation, and his
   business, and the trade that he lives upon. The Bible, which was before
   to him but almost as a common book, is now as the law of God, as a
   letter written to him from heaven, and subscribed with the name or the
   eternal Majesty; it is the rule of his thoughts, and words, and deeds;
   the commands are binding, the threats are dreadful, and the promises of
   it speak life to his soul. The godly, that seemed to him but like other
   men, are now the excellentest and happiest on earth. And the wicked
   that were his play-fellows, are now his grief; and he, that could laugh
   at their sins, is readier now to weep for their sin and misery, Psalm
   xvi. 3. and xv. 4. Phil. iii. 18. In short, he hath a new end in his
   thoughts, and a new way in his endeavours, and therefore his heart and
   life are new. Before, his carnal self was his end; and his pleasure and
   worldly profits, and credit were his way; and now God and everlasting
   glory are his end; and Christ, and the spirit, and word, and
   ordinances, holiness to God, and righteousness, and mercy to men, these
   are his way. Before, self was the chiefest ruler; to which the matters
   of God and conscience must stoop and give place. And now God in Christ,
   by the spirit, word and ministry, is that chief ruler, to whom both
   self and all the matters of self must give place. So that this is not a
   change in one, or two, or twenty points, but in the whole soul, and in
   the very end and bent of the conversation. A man may step out of one
   path into another, and yet have his face the same way, and be still
   going towards the same place: But it is another matter to turn quite
   back again, and take his journey the contrary way, to a contrary place.
   So it is here: a man may turn from drunkenness to thriftiness, and
   forsake his good fellowship, and other gross disgraceful sins, and set
   upon some duties of religion, and yet be still going to the same end as
   before, intending his carnal self above all, and giving it still the
   government of his soul. But, when he is converted, this self is denied
   and taken down, and God is set up, and his face is turned the contrary
   way; and he, that before was addicted to himself, and lived to himself,
   is now by sanctification devoted to God, and liveth unto God. Before,
   he asked himself what he should do with his time, his parts, and his
   estate, and for himself he used them; but now he asketh God what he
   shall do with them, and useth them for him. Before, he would please God
   so far as might stand with the pleasure of his flesh and carnal self,
   but not to any great displeasure of them. But now he will please God,
   let flesh and self be ever so much displeased. This is the great change
   that God will make upon all that shall be saved.

   You can say, that the Holy Ghost is our sanctifier; but do you know
   what sanctification is? Why, this is that I have now opened to you; and
   every man and woman in the world must have this, or be condemned to
   everlasting misery. They must turn or die.

   Do you believe all this, or do you not? Surely you dare not say, you do
   not; for it is past a doubt or denial. These are not controversies,
   where one learned pious man is of one mind, and another of another;
   where one party saith this, and another saith that; every denomination
   among us that deserve to be called Christians are all agreed in this
   that I have said; and, if you will not believe the God of truth, and
   that in a case where every party do believe him, you are utterly
   inexcusable.

   But, if you do believe this, how comes it to pass that you live so
   quietly in an unconverted state? Do you know that you are converted?
   and can you find this wonderful change upon your souls? Have you been
   thus born again, and made anew?–Are not these strange matters to many
   of you? and such as you never felt upon yourselves? If you cannot tell
   the day or week of your change, or the very sermon, that converted you,
   yet, do you find that the work is done; that such a change indeed there
   is, and that you have such hearts as before described? Alas! The most
   do follow their worldly business, and little trouble their minds with
   such thoughts: and, if they be but restrained from scandalous sins, and
   can say, “I am no whoremonger, nor thief, nor curser, nor swearer, nor
   tipler, nor extortioner; I go to church, and say my prayers;” they
   think that this is true conversion, and they shall be saved as well as
   any. Alas, this is foolish cheating of yourselves; this is too much
   contempt of an endless glory, and too gross neglect of your immortal
   souls.–Can you make so light of heaven and hell? Your corpse will
   shortly lie in the dust, and angels or devils will presently seize upon
   your souls, and every man and woman of you all will shortly be among
   other company, and in another case than now you are; you will dwell in
   those houses but a little longer, you will work in your shops but a
   little longer; you will sit in these seats, and dwell on this earth,
   but a little longer; you will see with those eyes, and hear with those
   ears, and speak with those tongues, but a little longer; till the
   resurrection day: and can you make shift to forget this? O what a place
   will you be shortly in of joy or torment! O what a sight will you
   shortly see in heaven or hell! O what thoughts will shortly fill your
   hearts with unspeakable delight or horror! What work will you be
   employed in; to praise the Lord with saints and angels, or to cry out
   in fire unquenchable with devils! And should all this be forgotten? And
   all this will be endless, and sealed up by an unchangeable decree;
   ETERNITY, ETERNITY will be the measure of your joys or sorrows: And can
   this be forgotten? And all this is true, most certainly true.–When you
   have gone up and down a little longer, and slept and awaked a few times
   more, you will be dead and gone, and find all true that now I tell you.
   And yet can you now so much forget it? You shall then remember that you
   heard this sermon, and that this day, from this place, you were
   reminded of these things; and perceive them matters a thousand times
   greater than either you or I could have conceived; and yet shall they
   now be so much forgotten?

   Beloved friends, if the Lord had not awakened me to believe and to lay
   to heart these things myself, I should have remained in a dark and
   selfish state, and have perished for ever: but, if he have truly made
   me sensible of them, it will constrain me to compassionate you as well
   as myself. If your eyes were so far opened as to see hell, and you saw
   your neighbours, that were unconverted, dragged thither with hideous
   cries, though they were such as you accounted honest people on earth,
   and feared no such matter by themselves, such a sight would make you go
   home and think of it; and think again, and make you warn all about you
   as that damned worldling in Luke xvi. 28. would have had his brethren
   warned, lest they come to that place of torment. Why, faith is a kind
   of sight; it is the eye of the soul, the evidence of things not seen.
   If 1 believe God, it is next to seeing; and therefore I beseech you
   excuse me, if I be half as earnest with you about these matters as if I
   had seen them. If I must die to-morrow, and it were in my power to come
   again from another world, and tell you what I had seen, would you not
   be willing to hear me? and would you not believe and regard what I
   should tell you? If I might preach one sermon to you after I am dead,
   and have seen what is done in the world to come, would you not have me
   plainly speak the truth and would you not crowd to hear me? and would
   you not lay it to heart? But this must not be; God hath his appointed
   way of teaching you by scripture and ministers, and he will not humour
   unbelievers so far as to send men from the dead to them, and to alter
   his established way. If any man quarrel with the sun, God will not
   humour him so far as to set up a clearer light. Friends, I beseech you,
   regard me now as you would do if I should come from the dead to you;
   for, I can give you as full assurance of the truth of what I say to you
   as if I had been there and seen it with my eyes: For, it is possible
   for one from the dead to deceive you; but Jesus Christ can never
   deceive you: but Jesus Christ can never deceive you.–The word of God.
   delivered in scripture, and sealed by the miracles and holy workings of
   the Spirit, can never deceive you. Believe this, or believe nothing.
   Believe and obey this, or you are undone. Now, as ever you believe the
   word of God, and as ever you care for the salvation of your souls, let
   me beg of you this reasonable request; and I beseech yon deny me not:
   that you would, without any more delay, when you are gone from hence,
   remember what you heard, and enter into an earnest search of your
   hearts, and say to yourselves, “Is it so indeed? Must I turn or die?
   Must I be converted or condemned? It is time for me then to look about
   me, before it be too late. O why did not I look after this till now?
   Why did I venturously post off so great a business? Was I awake, or in
   my wits? O blessed God, what a mercy is it that thou didst not cut off
   my life all this while, before I had any certain hope of eternal
   life!–Well, God forbid that I should neglect this work any longer.
   What state is my soul in? Am I converted, or am I not? Was ever such a
   change or work done upon my soul? Have I been illuminated by the word
   and spirit of the Lord to see the odiousness of sin, the need of a
   Saviour, the love of Christ, and the excellencies of God and glory? Is
   my heart broken or humbled within me for my former life? Have I
   thankfully entertained my Saviour and Lord that offered himself with
   pardon and life for my soul? Do I hate my former sinful life, and the
   remnant of every sin that is in me? Do I fly from them as my deadly
   enemies? Do I give up myself to a life of holiness and obedience to
   God? Do I love and delight in it? Can I truly say that I am dead to the
   world and carnal self, and that I live for God, and the glory which he
   hath promised? Hath heaven more of my estimation and resolution than
   earth? and is God the dearest and highest in my soul? Once, I am sure,
   I lived principally to the world and flesh, and God had nothing but
   some heartless services which the world could spare, and which were the
   leavings of the flesh.–Is my heart now turned another way? Have I a
   new design, and a new end, and a new train of holy affections? Have I
   set my hopes and heart in heaven? And is it not the scope, and design,
   and bent of my heart and life, to get well to heaven, and see the
   glorious face of God, and live in his everlasting love and praise? And
   when I sin, is it against the habitual bent and design of my heart? And
   do I conquer all gross sins, and am I weary and willing to be rid of
   mine infirmities? This is the state of a converted soul, and thus it
   must be with me, or I must perish. Is it thus indeed with me, or is it
   not? It is time to get this doubt resolved, before the dreadful judge
   resolve it. I am not such a stranger to my own heart and life, but I
   may somewhat perceive whether I am thus converted or not: if I be not,
   it will do me no good to flatter my soul with false conceits and hopes.
   I am resolved no more to deceive myself, but endeavour to know truly,
   off or on, whether I be converted, yea or no: that, if I be, I may
   rejoice in it; and glorify my gracious Lord, and comfortably go on till
   I reach the crown: And If I am not, I may set myself to beg and seek
   after the grace that should convert me, and may turn without any more
   delay:–For, if I find in time that I am out of the way, by the help of
   Christ I may turn and be recovered; but, if I stay till either my heart
   be forsaken of God, in blindness or hardness, or till I be caught away
   by death, it is then too late. There is no place for repentance and
   conversion then: I know it must be now or never.”

   Sirs, this is my request to you, that you will but take your hearts to
   task, and thus examine them, till you see, if it may be, whether you
   are converted or not; and, if you cannot find it out by your own
   endeavours, go to your ministers, if they be faithful and experienced
   men, and desire their assistance. The matter is great, let not
   bashfulness, nor carelessness hinder you. They are set over you to
   advise you, for the saving of your soul, as physicians advise you for
   the curing of your bodies. It undoes many thousands, that they think
   they are in the way to salvation when they are not; and thinking that
   they are converted, when it is no such thing. And then, when we call to
   them to turn, they go away as they came, and think that this concerns
   not them; for they are turned already, and hope they shall do well
   enough in the way that they are in; at least if they do but pick the
   fairest path, and avoid some of the foulest steps; when, alas! all this
   while they live but to the world and flesh, and are strangers to God
   and eternal life, and are quite out of the way to heaven. And all this
   is much, because we cannot persuade them to a few serious thoughts of
   their condition, and to spend a few hours in the examining of their
   states. Is there not many a self-deceiving wretch that hears me this
   day, that never bestowed one hour in all their lives to examine their
   souls, and try whether they are truly converted or not?–O merciful
   God, that will care for such wretches as care no more for themselves,
   and that will do so much to save them from hell, and help them to
   heaven, who will do so little for it themselves! If all that are in the
   way to hell did but know it, they durst not continue in it. The
   greatest hope that the devil hath of bringing you to damnation without
   a rescue, is by keeping you blind-fold and ignorant of your state, and
   making you believe that you may do well enough in the way that you are
   in. If you knew that you were out of the way to heaven, and were lost
   forever if you should die as you are; durst you sleep another night in
   the state that you are in? durst you live another day in it? Could you
   heartily laugh or be merry in such a state? What! and not know but you
   may be snatched away to hell in an hour! Sure it would constrain you to
   forsake your former company and course and to betake yourselves to the
   ways of holiness and the communion of saints: Sure it would drive you
   to cry to God for a new heart, and to seek help of those that are fit
   to counsel you. There is none of you sure that cares not for being
   damned. Well then, I beseech you presently make inquiry into your
   hearts, and give them no rest till you find out your condition; that,
   if it be good, you may rejoice in it, and go on; and, if it be bad, you
   may presently look about you for recovery, as men that believe they
   must turn or die. What say you, Sirs? Will you resolve, and promise, to
   be at thus much labour for your own souls? Will you fall upon this
   self-examination when you get home? Is my request unreasonable? Your
   consciences know it is not.–Resolve on it, then, before you stir;
   knowing how much it concerneth your souls. I beseech you, for the sake
   of that God that doth command you, at whose bar you will shortly all
   appear, that you do not deny me this reasonable request: for the sake
   of souls that must turn or die, I beseech you deny me not; even but to
   make it your business to understand your own conditions, and build upon
   sure ground, and know, off and on, whether you are converted or not,
   and venture not your souls on negligent security.

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