The first thing which I would observe unto this end is, the present
importunity of the world to impose itself on the minds of men, and the various ways of insinuation whereby it possesseth and filleth them. If it attain hereunto, — if it can fill the minds, the thoughts, and affections of men, with itself, — it will in some fortify the soul against faith and obedience, and in others weaken all grace, and endanger eternal ruin. For “if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us;” and when the world fills our thoughts, it will entangle our affections. And, first, the present state of all public affairs in it, with an apprehended concernment of private persons therein, continually exerciseth the thoughts of many, and is almost
the only subject of their mutual converse; for the world is at present in a mighty hurry, and being in many places cast off from all foundations of steadfastness, it makes the minds of men giddy with its revolutions, or disorderly in the expectations of them.
There are two things which those who, after a long profession of the
gospel, are entering into the confines of eternity do long for and desire. The one is, that all their breaches may be repaired, their decays recovered, their backsliding healed; for unto these things they have been less or more obnoxious in the course of their walking before God. The other is, that they may have fresh springs of spiritual life, and vigorous acting of all divine graces, in spiritual-mindedness, holiness, and fruitfulness, unto the praise of God, the honor of the gospel, and the increase of their own peace and joy.
THE third success of the deceit of sin in its progressive work is the
conception of actual sin. When it hath drawn the mind off from its duty, and entangled the affections, it proceeds to conceive sin in order to the bringing of it forth: “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.”
Now, the conception of sin, in order unto its perpetration, can be nothing but the consent of the will; for as without the consent of the will sin cannot be committed, so where the will hath consented unto it, there is nothing in the soul to hinder its actual accomplishment.
All flattery, and especially self-flattery, is criminal and injurious ; but self-flattery, in regard to the concerns of salvation, is to the last degree dangerous and destructive. To persuade ourselves, or endeavor to persuade others, that we possess goodness of which we are in reality destitute, is shameful and ruinous dissimulation. But of this, Laodiceans, and self-deceivers in every age, are guilty.
Young converts are prone to depend too much on joyful frames, and love high excitement in their devotional exercises; but their heavenly Father cures them of this folly, by leaving them for a season to walk in darkness and struggle with their own corruptions. When most sorely pressed and discouraged, however, He strengthens them with might in the inner man. He enables them to stand firmly against temptation; or, if they slide, he quickly restores them, and by such exercises they become much more sensible of their entire dependence than they were at first.
Resolve to cast thyself at the feet of Christ in subjection to him, and throw thyself into the arms of Christ for salvation by him. Consider, my dear brethren, the many invitations he has given you to come unto him, to be saved by him; “God has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” O let me prevail with you, above all things, to make choice of the Lord Jesus Christ; resign yourselves unto him, take him, O take him, upon his own terms, and whosoever thou art, how great a sinner soever you have been, this evening, in the name of the great God, do I offer Jesus Christ unto thee…This narration also includes a part of the testimony of Thomas Halyburton. 1674-1712