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tainty when their faculties are entirely contaminated: But yet our God is a consuming fire. We know men, to whom the truth is become unintelligible, in consequence of the disguise in which they have taken the pains to clothe it; and who have accustomed themselves to palliate vice, till they are become incapable of perceiving its turpitude.
God's thoughts are not our thoughts, it is true; and we have seen some examples of people, who have proved, since their recovery, that they were truly converted in sickness, and on whose account we presume that others may possibly be converted by the same mean : But yet our God is a consuming fire. How rare are these examples ! Doth this require proof? Must we demonstrate it?
You are our proofs : you, yourselves, are our demonstrations. Who of you, (I speak of those who are of mature age) Who of you hath not been sick, and thought himself in danger of death ? Who hath not made resolutions in that distressing hour, and promised God to reform? The law of these exercises forbids certain details, and prohibits the naming of my hearers : but I appeal to your consciences, and, if your consciences be asleep, I appeal to the immortal God. How many of you have deposited your resolutions with us, and have solemnly engaged to renounce the world with all its sinful maxims? How many of you have imposed upon us by appearances of conversion, and have imposed upon yourselves too? How many of you should we have alledged as new examples of death-bed-conversions, if God had not granted you a recovery? Are you converted indeed? Have you renounced the world and its maxims ? Ah! were we to judge, by the conduct of those who have recovered, of the state of those who are dead ......
My brethren, I dare not examine the matter, but I leave it to your meditation.
It is true, God's thoughts are not our thoughts ; and God worketh miracles in religion as well as in nature: But vet our God is a consuming fire. Who can assure himself that, having abused common grace, he shall obtain extraordinary assistances ?
It is true, God's thoughts are not our thoughts ; and there is nothing in the holy scriptures, which empowers us to shut the gates of heaven against a dying penitent; we have no authority to tell you, that there is no more hope for you, but that you are lost without remedy: But yet ; our God is a consuming.fire. There are hundreds of passages in our bibles, which authorize us, what am I saying? there are hundreds of passages that command us, under the penalty of suffering all the punishments that belong to the crime, not to conceal any thing from the criminal : there are hundreds of passages which empower and enjoin us to warn you, you who are fifty years of age; you, who are sixty; you, who are fourscore; that still to put off the work of your conversion is a madness, an excess of inflexibility and indolence, which all the flames of hell can never expiate.
To conclude. This is an article, of which we, your pastors, hope to give a good account to God, however unworthy we are of his approbation. How often have we represented the danger of your procrastinations? Ye walls of this church! were ye capable of giving evidence, we would take you to witness. But we appeal to you, ye sermons, that have been preached in this assembly ! ye shall be recollected in that great day, in which each of our hearers shall give an account of the use he hath made of you. Ye consciences that have heard our directions ! ye shall bear witness. You
gainsayers! you yourselves shall bear witness, you who, by reversing those ideas which the gospel giveth us of the mercy of God, have so often pretended to obscure those which we have endeavored to give of his justice and vengeance; We are neile from your blaedcounsere not shunnedo-x8. 26, 27. When we stand at his tribunal, and, under a sense of the weaknesss with which our ministry was accompanied, say to him, Enter not into judgment with thy servants, O Lord ! Psal. cxliii. 2. Each of us will venture to add, with a view to the importunity that had been used to prevail with you to improve your precious moments, I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not refrained my lips; O Lord, thou knowest. With-hold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord, Psal. xl. 9, 11. I have spent my strength for nought and in vain; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God, Isa. xlix. 4.
O! may God animate us with more noble motives ! God grant, not that the eternal misery of our hearers may be the apology of our ministry: but that you may be our joy and crown in the day of Christ! Phil. iv. 1. and i. 10. Amen.
The Patience of God with wicked Mations
Genesis xv. 16.
TT is a shocking disposition of mind, which SoloI mon describes in that well known passage in Ecclesiastes : Because sentence against an evil work · is not executed speedily; therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil, chap. viii. 11. It seems, at first sight, as if the wise man had rather exceeded in his portrait of the human heart : or that, if there were any orginals, they could only be a few monsters, from whose souls were eradicated all the seeds of religion and piety, as well as every degree of reason and humanity. God is patient towards all who offend him : then, let us offend him without remorse, let us try the utmost extent of his patience. God lifteth over our heads a mighty hand, armed with lightnings and thunderbolts, but this hand is usally suspended a while before it strikes; then let us dare it while it delays, and till it moves to crush us to pieces let us not respect it. What a disposition ! What a shocking disposition of mind is this, my brethren!
But let us rend the veils with which we conceal ourselves from ourselves; let us penetrate those secret recesses of our consciences, into which we never look but when we are forced ; let us go to the bottom of a heart naturally deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and we shall find that