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.sermon it be confessed, that the Wofk of God is
^^ryrviiot usually carried on now, with. the same .Dispatch as formerly; yet to deny that there are any Instances of sudden Conversions, nay, to fay that there are not many, is to contradict the Experience of NunaJbers, who have been awakened all at once by the Spirit of God under the Ministry of the Word, and stirred up by a wonderful and inexplicable Influence on their Souls, to enquire, What they Jha/l do to be saved. , - v.Ai
.-.. I know, that Experimental Religion has long been under much Discredit with m: 0And.I am sorry for it; for it is, among others, a fad Argument of the great Decay of Godliness that is amongst us. . ?:;.i ;jt A great Part of Protestants are become very Papists, without knowing it; they -are for going, to Heaven in the Way of an outward Worship, and for sacrificing to God of that which costs them little or nothing. Forms and Ceremonies, and some external Works, consist well enough with inward Impurity, and offer no Violence to corrupt Nature; and therefore they are well content to be Religious at :. so so cheap a Rate. But do not, my Bre-SfiRMbM thren, thus deceive your own Souls; for.^.y^j <his is building a Tower which cannot reach unto Heaven, for its Foundation is in the Dust. If ybu would be in reality what you pretend to be, you must dig deeper, and lay the Foundation lower. The polluted Fountain must be cleansed, and the deadly Waters thereof healed by the Salt of a true and anguishing Repentance *. Neither will a Partial Reformation make us real Christians: This is only lopping off the Boughs and Branches from the Tree of Evil, which will sprout again the more: But we must lay the Axe to the Root of the Tree, and down with it even to the Ground: We must repent and turn unto the Lord with deep Humiliation, that
* I would by no Means be understood here, as limiting the Divine Being to any particular Method of Operation: For I am verily persuaded, that there have been many Instances of sincere Conversion, where the Anguish of Repentance may have been swallowed up immediately in a joyful
• Sense of pardoning Grace ; yet I believe, enough is generally, if not universally felt, to vindicate the Expression I have used. — And I must seriously warn Persons, who are most ready to blame such Kind ot Language, to take heed as encouraging the premature Joys of those who may prove no more than Stony Ground Hearers.
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Sermon he may make us clean Hearts, and renew a ;4^VVJ right Spirit within us. Fsekli.ro. -But Sorrow and Sadness are: Things so contrary to the Bent of our Nature, and lie so cross to every Appetite.and Inclination of Flesh and Blood, that few People Matth. v. can bear to hear of Mourning and MortiRom. viliJication in Religion. We are called the p- ... lrcublers of Israel, as Ahab stiled Elijab> i Kings when we insist upon these Doctrines j or xvm. 17. ejfe are reproached with bringing an evil Report upon the good Land, by giving such a discouraging Representation of it. But this we cannot help; for we must take Human Nature as we find it, and Religion as we find it j and be content with such Remedies for our Misery, as Sin has made necessary. .> :.. . -...-'.
Had Man continued in his first Estate, and all the Sons and Daughters of Adam preserved their Innocence j in that Case, to talk of Sorrow would have been bringing strange Things to their Ears, for nothing Psei. but the Voice cfjoy would have been known cxviii''5w the Dwellings of the Righteous, But this is not the Cafe with us now j for Sin has deeply infected our Nature: And Sin !&..,' is. is the Parent of Sorrow, and Evangelical Sermo* Sorrow a sovereign Means for its Cure.—' w^j Say not then to us, Speak unto us smoothIsai-XXJC'Things, and preach them smoothly: For we must suit our Discourses to your Needs, and not to your Likings; and therefore are frequently called upon in Duty to speak sharp Things, and to speak them sharply, if . so by any Means we may prick you to the Heart, and bring you to cry out, What shall •we do to he saved f
But it may be asked here, Why God Almighty hath made the Burden of Sin so heavy, and the Work of Conversion so piercing to the Soul of the Penitent? I answer,
Firsl, That he doth this in Grace and Goodness to divorce our Hearts from Sin; by giving us a feeling Sense of the Bitterness and Evil that is in it.— All the Arguments and Persuasions in the World wculd be insufficient to prevail with us to forsake our sinful Lusts and wicked Ways, if we were not to smart for them; if we were not to be humbled under the Remembrance of them, and to be terrified at the Sight of that Defilement which they have brought • upon
SermonUpon the Soul, and its Danger on that Ac<_/*Y"\j count.
Secondly, This painful Sense of Sin and its Malignity, brings us to fee our Need of a Saviour, and teaches us to prize the Benefit of our Redemption by his Blood. People may talk of Christ with seeming Reverence, and profess to believe in him with a Shew of Sincerity; but he is only sweet and amiable to the Sin-distressed Soul. As Liberty to the Captive, and Sight to the Blind, so is Christ truly precious to the labouring and heavy laden Penitent. Grace then truly appears Grace, when Sin appears to be Sin. — Whilst we think ourselves in Safety, and all to be well with us, in a vain Confidence of its own Sufficiency, the Heart of Man is apt to cry out, as the Devils did, What have I to do vwith thee, Jesus! But when the Soul is made truly sensible of its Sin and Misery, and finds itself sinking in the deep Waters, it then flieth unto Jesus for Help, and with Peter crieth out, Lord save me, vrJ perish !.:.'. ;.. r ;': . ....:* ..-.ctl
;Thirdly, Inward Suffering and Gom. function on Account of Sin, disposes.:"the »V: . Hear*