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life! But this brisknefs and livelinefs plainly fhew the great fecurity which is upon most men.
Secondly, The marvellous quietnefs and ftillnefs that is in the thoughts and confciences of men, about their everlasting concernments, plainly fhews this to be the life of the unregenerate : How few fcruples, doubts, or fears fhall you hear from them? How many years may a man live in carnal families, before he fhall hear fuch a question as this feriously propounded, "What "fhall I do to be faved?" There are no questions in their lips, because no fear or fenfe of danger in their hearts.
Thirdly, The general contentednefs, and profeft willingness of carnal men to die, give clear evidence that fuch a life of fecurity, and vain hope is the life they live; "Like sheep they are laid in the grave, Pfal. xlix. 14. O how quiet and still are their confciences, when there are but a few breaths more between them and everlasting burnings! Had God opened their eyes to apprehend the confequences of death, and what follows. the pale horfe, Rev. vi. 8. it were impofiible but that every unregenerate man fhould make that bed on which he dies, fhake and tremble under him.
Fourthly, and Lafly, The low efteem men have for Chrift, and the total neglect of, at leaft the mere trifling with, thofe duties in which he is to be found, plainly difcover this stupid, fecure life to be the life that the generality of the world do live : for were men fenfible of the difeafe of fin, there could be no quieting them without "Christ the phyfician," Phil. iii. 8. Alf the business they have to do in this world could never keep them from their knees, or make them ftrangers to their clofets: all which, and much more that might be taid of like nature, gives too full and clear proof to this fad affertion, that this is the life the unregenerate world generally lives.
Fourthly, In the latt place, I would speak a few words to dif cover the danger of fuch a life, as hath been defcribed; to which purpose, let the following brief hints be ferioufly minded.
First, By thefe things fouls are inevitably betrayed into hell, and eternal ruin; this blinding is in order to damning, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. "If our gofpel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft "whofe eyes the god of this world hath blinded." Those that are turned over into eternal death, are thus generally hoodwinked and blinded in order thereunto, Ifa. vi. y, 10. “And he said 86 go and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but underftand not: "and fee ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the hearts of this "people fat, and make their ears heavy, and fhut their eyes; left they fee with their eyes, and hear with their cars, and
"understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed." Secondly, As damning is the event of blinding, fo nothing makes hell a more terrible furprize to the foul than this doth: By this means the wrath of God is felt before its danger be apprehended; a man is past all hope, before he begins to have any fear his eternal ruin, like a breach ready to fall, fwelling out in a high wall, cometh fuddenly at an inftant, Ifa. xxx. 13. and as it damas furely, and furprizingly, fo,
Thirdly, Nothing more aggravates a man's damnation than to fink fuddenly into it, from amidst fo many hopes, and high confidence of fafety: For a man to find himself in hell, when he thought and concluded himself within a step of heaven, O what a hell will it be to fuch men! The higher vain hopes lifted them up, the more dreadful must their fall be, Mat. vii. 22. And as it damns furely, furprizingly, and with highest aggravations, fo,
Fourthly, This life of fecurity, and vain hope, fruftrates all the means of recovery, and falvation in the only feason wherein they can be useful and beneficial to us: By reafon of these things the word hath no power to convince mens confciences, nothing can bring them to a fight and fenfe of their condition: Therefore Chrift told the self-confident, and blind Jews, Mat. xxi. 21. "That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God "before them :" And the reafon is, because their hearts lie more open, and fair to the strokes of conviction, and compunc tion for fin than thofe do, who are blinded by vain hopes, and confidences.
Infer. I. Is this the life that the unregenerate world lives? Then it is not to be wondered at, that the preaching of the gospel hath fo little fuccefs: "Who hath believed our report? (faith the prophet) and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?" Ifa. liii. 1. Ministers study for truths apt to awaken, and convince the consciences of them that hear them, but their words return again to them: They turn to God, and mourn over the matter; we have laboured in vain, and spent our strength for nought: And this fecurity is the cause of all; vain hopes bar fast the doors of mens hearts against all the convictions and perfuafions of the word. The greater cause have they to admire the grace of God, who have found, or fhall find the convictions of the word fharper than any two-edged fword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the foul and fpirit; to whose hearts God brings home the commandment, by an effectual application.
Infer. 2. If this be the life of the unregenerate world; what
deadly enemies are they that nourish, and strengthen the groundlefs confidences, and vain hopes of falvation in men? This the fcripture calls the healing of the hurt of fouls slightly, by crying "Peace, peace, when there is no peace," Jer. vi. 14. The fewing of pillows under their arm-holes, Ezek. xiii. 18. That they may lie foft and eafy under the miniftry: And this is the doctrine which the people love; but oh, what will the end of these things be! And what an account have those men to give to God for the blood of those fouls by them betrayed to the everlasting burnings! Such flattery is the greateft cruelty: Thofe whom you blefs upon earth, will curfe you in hell, and the day in which they trusted their fouls to your conduct.
Infer. 3. How great a mercy is it to be awakened out of that general fleep, and fecurity which is fallen upon the world!
You cannot eftimate the value of that mercy, for it is a peculiar mercy. O that ever the Spirit of the Lord should touch thy foul under the miniftry of the word, ftartle, and roufe thy confcience, whilft others are left in the dead fleep of fecurity round about thee! When the Lord dealt with thy foul much after the fame manner he did with Paul in the way to Damafcus, who not only faw a light fhining from heaven, which thofe that travelled with him faw as well as he, but heard that voice from heaven which did the work upon his heart, though his companions heard it not. Befides, it is not only a peculiar mercy, but it is a leading, introductive mercy, to all other fpiritual mercies that follow it to all eternity. If God had not done this for thee, thou hadst never been brought to faith, to Christ, or heaven: from this act of the spirit all other faving acts take their rife. So that you have caufe for ever to admire the goodness of God, in in fuch a favour as this is.
Infer. 4. Laftly, Hence it follows, that the generality of the world are in the direct way to eternal ruin; and whatever their vain confidences are, they cannot be faved: "Narrow is the way, and ftrait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few "there be that find it." Hear me all you that live this dangerous life of carnal fecurity, and vain hope, whatever your perfuafions and confidences are, except you give them up, and get better grounds for your hope, you cannot be faved. For,
Firft, Such hopes and confidences, as yours, are directly contradictory to the established order of the gospel, which requires repentance, Acts v. 31. Faith, Acts xiii. 39. and regeneration, John iii. 3. in all that shall be faved: And this order shall never be altered for any man's fake.
Secondly, If fuch as you be faved, all the threatnings in fcrip.
ture must be reversed, which lie in full oppofition to your vain hopes, Mark xvi. 16. John iii. 16. Rom. iii. 8, 9. Either the truth of God, in these threatnings, mult fail, or your vain hopes muft fail.
Thirdly, If ever fuch as you be faved, new conditions must be fet to all the promises: For there is no condition of any special promise found in any unregenerate perfon. Compare your hearts with thefe fcriptures, Mat. v. 3, 4, 5, 6. Pfal. xxiv. 4. Pfal. lxxxiv. 11. Gen. xvii. 1, 2.
Fourthly, If ever fuch a hope as yours bring you to heaven, then the faving hope of God's elect is net rightly defcribed to us in the fcriptures. Scripture hope is the effect of regeneration, 1 Pet. i. 3. Aad purity of heart is the effect of that hope, 1 John iii. 3. Nay,
Fifthly, The very nature of heaven is mistaken in fcripture, if fuch as you be fubjects qualified for its enjoyment: For affimilation, or the conformity of the foul to God in holiness, is, in the fcripture account, a principal ingredient of that bleffedness: By all which, it manifeftly appears that the hopes of most men are in vain, and will never bring them to heaven.
ROM. vii. 9. For I was alive without the law once: But when the commandment came, fin revived, and I died.
THAT there is a mighty efficacy in the word or law of God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, when God fets it home upon their confciences. "The weapons of the word are not carnal, "but mighty through God; to the pulling down of strong
holds, cafting down imaginations, and every thing that ex"alteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into "captivity every thought to the obedience of Chrift," 2 Cor. X. 4, 5.
In the opening of this point I fhall,
1. Demonstrate the efficacy of the word or law of God. 2. Shew wherein the efficacy thereof lies.
3. From whence it hath all this mighty power and efficacy. First, I fhall give you fome demonftrations of the mighty power, and efficacy that there are in the word or law of God:: which will appear with the fulleft evidence.
First, From the various fubjects upon whom it works: The
hearts and confciences of men of all orders and qualities, have been reached, and wounded to the quick, by the two-edged fword of God's law. Some, among the great and honourable of the earth, (though indeed the feweft of that rank) have been made to floop, and tremble under the word, Acts xxiv. 16. Mark vi. 20. Sam. xv. 24. The wife and learned of the world have felt its power, and been brought over to embrace the humbling, and felf-denying ways of Chrift, Acts xvii. 34. Thus Origen, Hierom, Tertullian, Brad wardine, and many more, came into Canaan laden with the Egyptian gold, as one speaks, (i. e) they came into the church of God abundantly enriched, and furnished with the learned arts and fciences, devoting them all to the fervice of Chrift: Yea, and which is as ftrange, the moft fimple, weak, and illiterate, have been wonderfully changed, and wrought upon by the power of the word: "The teftimonies "of the Lord make wife the fimple :" Men of weak understandings, in all other matters, have been made wife to falvation by the power of the word, Mat. xi. 25. 1 Cor. i. 27. Nay, the most malicious and obftinate enemies of Christ have been wounded, and converted by the word, 1 Tim. i. 13. Acts xvi. 25. Those that have been under the prejudice of the worst and most idolatrous education, have been the fubjects of its mighty power, Acts xix. 26. To conclude, men of the moft profligate, and debauched lives have been wonderfully changed, and altered by the power of the word, 1 Cor. vi. 10, 11.
Secondly, The mighty efficacy of the law of God appears in the manner of its operation; it works fuddenly; ftrikes like a dart through the hearts and confciences of men, Acts ii. 37. A wonderful change is made in a short time: And as it works quickly, and fuddenly, fo it works irrefiftibly, with an uncontrouled power upon the fpirits of men, I Thef. i. 5. Rom. i. 16. Let the foul be armed against conviction with the thickeft ignorance, ftrongest prejudice, or molt obftinate refolution, the word of God will wound the breast even of such a man, when God fends it forth in his authority and power.
Thirdly, The wonderful power of the law, or word of God is evidently feen, in the strange effects which are produced by it in the hearts and lives of men. For,
Firft, It changes and alters the frame and temper of the mind: It moulds a man into a quite contrary temper, Gal. i. 23. "He "which perfecuted us in times paft, now preacheth the faith, " which once he destroyed:" Thus a tyger is transformed into a lamb, by the power of the word of God.
Secondly, It makes the foul, upon which it works, to forego,