(Owen. The Glory of Christ, Part 2. File @@)

(... continued from File: introductory)

The Glory of Christ, by John Owen

Part II. 
Meditations and Discourses concerning the Glory of Christ. 
Chapter 1. 
Application of the foregoing meditations concerning the Glory of 
Christ: First, in an Exhortation unto such as are not yet Partakers 
of Him. 
    That which remains is, to make some application of the glorious 
truth insisted on unto the souls of them that are concerned; and 
what I have to offer unto that end I shall distribute under two 
heads. The first shall be with respect unto them who are yet 
strangers from this holy and glorious One, - who are not yet made 
partakers of him, nor have any especial interest in him. And the 
second shall be directed unto believers, as a guide and assistance 
unto their recovery from spiritual decays, and the revival of a 
spring of vigorous grace, holiness, and obedience in them. 
    For the first of these, although it seems not directly to lie 
in our way, yet is it suited unto the method of the Gospel, that 
wherever there is a declaration of the excellencies of Christ, in 
his person, grace, or office, it should be accompanied with an 
invitation and exhortation unto sinners to come unto him. This 
method he himself first made use of, Matt. 11: 27-30; John 7: 37, 
38, and consecrated it unto our use also. Besides, it is necessary 
from the nature of the things themselves; for who can dwell on the 
consideration of the glory of Christ, being called therewith to the 
declaration of it, but his own mind will engage him to invite lost 
sinners unto a participation of him? But I shall at present proceed 
no farther in this exhortation, but only unto the proposal of some 
of those considerations which may prepare, incline, and dispose 
their minds unto a closure with him as he is tendered in the Gospels 
As, - 
    1. Let them consider well what is their present state with 
respect unto God and eternity. This Moses wisheth for the 
Israelites, Deut. 32: 29, "Oh that they were wise, that they 
understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" It is 
the greatest folly in the world to leave the issues of these things 
unto an uncertain hazard; and that man who cannot prevail with 
himself strictly to examine what is his state and condition with 
respect unto eternity, does never do any good nor abstain from any 
evil in a due manner. Remember, therefore, that "many are called, 
but few are chosen." To be called, is to enjoy all the outward 
privileges of the Gospel, - which is all you unto whom I speak can 
pretend unto; yet this you may do and not be chosen; - even among 
those unto whom the word is preached, they are but few that shall be 
saved. In the distribution made by our Lord Jesus Christ of the 
hearers of the word into four sorts of ground, it was but one of 
them that received real benefit thereby; and if our congregations 
are no better than were his hearers, there is not above a fourth 
part of them that will be saved, - it may be a far less number; - 
and is it not strange that every one of them is not jealous over 
himself and his own condition? Many herein deceive themselves until 
they fall under woeful surprisals. And this is represented in the 
account of the final judgement; for the generality of those who have 
professed the Gospel are introduced as complaining of their 
disappointments, Matt. 25: 41-44 [10-12?]. For what is there spoken 
is only a declaration of what befell them here in the close of their 
lives, and their personal judgement thereon. 
    2. Take heed of being deluded by common presumptions. Most men 
have some thoughts in general about what their state is, and what it 
will be in the issue; but they make no diligent search into this 
matter, because a number of common presumptions do immediately 
insinuate themselves into their minds for their relief; and they are 
such as all whose force and efficacy unto this end lies in this, 
that they differ from others, and are better than they; - as that 
they are Christians, that they are in the right way of religion, 
that they are partakers of the outward privileges of the Gospel, 
hearing the word, and participating of the sacraments; - that they 
have light and convictions, so as that they abstain from sin, and 
perform duties so as others do not; and the like. All those with 
whom it is not so, who are behind them in these things, they judge 
to be in an ill state and condition, whence they entertain good 
hopes concerning themselves; and this is all that most trust unto. 
It is not my present business to discourse the vanity of 
presumptions; - it has been done by many. I give only this warning 
in general, unto those who have the least design or purpose to come 
to Christ, and to be made partakers of him, that they put no trust 
in them, that they rely not on them; for if they do so they will 
eternally deceive their souls. This was a great part of the 
preparatory ministry of John the Baptist, Matt. 3: 9, "Think not to 
say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father." This was 
their great comprehensive privilege, containing all the outward 
church and covenant advantages. These they rested in and trusted to 
unto their ruin; herein he designed to undeceive them. 
    3. consider aright what it is to live and die without an 
interest in Christ, without a participation of him. Where this is 
not stated in the mind, where thoughts of it are not continually 
prevalent, there can be no one step taken in the way towards him. 
Unless we are thoroughly convinced that without him we are in a 
state of apostasy from God, under the curse, obnoxious unto eternal 
wrath, as some of the worst of God's enemies, we shall never flee 
unto him for refuge in a due manner. "The whole have no need of a 
physician, but the sick." Christ "came not to call the righteous, 
but sinners to repentance;" and the conviction intended is the 
principal end of the ministry of the law. The miseries of this state 
have been the subject of innumerable sermons and discourses; but 
there is a general misery in the whole, that few take themselves to 
be concerned therein, or apply these things unto themselves. Let us 
tell men of it a thousand times, yet they either take no notice of 
it, or believe it not, or look on it as that which belongs unto the 
way and course of preaching, wherein they are not concerned. These 
things, it seems, preachers must say; and they may believe them who 
have a mind whereunto. It is a rare thing that any one shall as much 
as say unto himself, Is it so with me? And if we now, together with 
this caution, tell the same men again, that whilst they are 
uninterested in Christ, not ingrafted into him by faith, that they 
run in vain, that all their labour in religion is lost, that their 
duties are all rejected, that they are under the displeasure and 
curse of God, that their end is eternal destruction, - which are all 
unquestionably certain, - yet will they let all these things pass by 
without any farther consideration. 
    But here I must fix with them unto whom I speak at present, - 
unless there be a full conviction in them of the woeful, deplorable 
condition of every soul, of whatever quality, profession, religion, 
outward state it be, who is not yet made partaker of Christ, all 
that I have farther to add will be of no signification. Remember, 
then, that the due consideration hereof is unto you, in your state, 
your chiefest concernment in this world: and be not afraid to take 
in a full and deep sense of it; for if you are really delivered from 
it, and have good evidence thereof, it is nothing unto you but 
matter of eternal praise and thanksgiving. And if you are not so, it 
is highly necessary that your minds should be possessed with due 
apprehension of it. The work of this conviction is the first effect 
of true religion; and the great abuse of religion in the world is, 
that a pretence of it deludes the minds of men to apprehend that it 
is not necessary: for to be of this or that religion, - of this or 
that way in religion, - is supposed sufficient to secure the eternal 
state of men, though they are never convinced of their lost estate 
by nature. 
    Consider therefore, his infinite condescension, grace, and love 
herein. Why all this towards you? Does he stand in need of you? Have 
you deserved it at his hands? Did you love him first? Cannot he be 
happy and blessed without you? Has he any design upon you, that he 
is so earnest in calling you unto him? Alas! it is nothing but the 
overflowing of mercy, compassion, and grace, that moves and acts him 
herein. Here lies the entrance of innumerable souls into a death and 
condemnation far more severe than those contained in the curse of 
the law, 2 Cor. 2: 15, 16. In the contempt of this infinite 
condescension of Christ in his holy invitation of sinners to 
himself, lies the sting and poison of unbelief, which unavoidably 
gives over the souls of men unto eternal ruin. And who shall once 
pity them to eternity who are guilty of it? Yea, but, - 
    5. Perhaps, if you should, on his invitation, begin to look to 
Him, and resolve to come to him, you are greatly afraid that when it 
comes to the trial he will not receive you; for no heart can 
conceive, no tongue can express, what wretched, vile, and provoking 
sinners you have been. That the Lord Christ will receive unto him 
such as we are, we have no hopes, or that ever we shall find 
acceptance with him. I say it is not amiss when persons come so far 
as to be sensible of what discouragements they have to conflict 
withal, what difficulties lie in their way, and what objections do 
arise against them; for the most do perish in a senseless stupidity, 
- they will not consider how it is with them, what is required of 
them, nor how it will be in the latter end; - they doubt not but 
that either they do believe already, or can do so when they please. 
But when any come so far as to charge the failure of their 
acceptance with Christ on their own unworthiness, and so are 
discouraged from coming unto him, there are arguments for their 
conviction and persuasion, which nothing but the devil and unbelief 
can defeat. Wherefore, that which is now proposed unto consideration 
in answer hereunto, is the readiness of Christ to receive every 
sinner, be he who or what he will, that shall come unto him. And 
hereof we have the highest evidences that divine wisdom and grace 
can give unto us. This is the language of the Gospel, of all that 
the Lord Christ did or suffered, which is recorded therein; - this 
is the divine testimony of the "three that bear record in heaven, 
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;" and of the "three that 
bear witness in earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood:" all 
give their joint testimony, that the Lord Christ is ready to receive 
all sinners that come to him. They who receive not this testimony 
make God a liar, - both Father, Son, and Spirit. Whatever the Lord 
Christ is in the constitution of his person, - in the representation 
of the Father, - in his office, - in what he did on the earth, - in 
what he does in heaven, - proclaims the same truth. Nothing but 
cursed obstinacy in sin and unbelief can suggest a thought unto our 
minds that he is not willing to receive us when we come unto him. 
Herein we are to bear testimony against the unbelief of all unto 
whom the gospel is preached, that come not unto him. Unbelief acting 
itself herein, includes a contempt of the wisdom of God, a denial of 
his truth or faithfulness, an impeachment of the sincerity of Christ 
in his invitations, making him a deceiver, and will issue in an 
express hatred of his person and office, and of the wisdom of God in 
him. Here, then, you are shut up, - you cannot from hence take any 
countenance unto your unbelief 
    6. Consider that he is as able to save us as he is ready and 
willing to receive us. The testimonies which he has given us unto 
his goodness and love are uncontrollable; and none dare directly to 
call in question or deny his power. Generally, this is taken for 
granted by all, that Christ is able to save us if he will; yea, who 
shall question his ability to save us, though we live in sin and 
unbelief? And many expect that he will do so, because they believe 
he can if he will. But indeed Christ has no such power, no such 
ability: he cannot save unbelieving, impenitent sinners; for this 
cannot be done without denying himself, acting contrary to his word, 
and destroying his own glory. Let none please themselves with such 
vain imaginations. Christ is able to save all them, and only them, 
who come to God by him. Whilst you live in sin and unbelief, Christ 
himself cannot save you; but when it comes to the trial in 
particular, some are apt to think, that although they will not 
conclude that Christ cannot save them, yet they do, on various 
accounts, that they cannot be saved by him. This, therefore, we also 
give testimony unto in our exhortation to come unto him, - namely, 
that his power to save those that shall comply with his call is 
sovereign, uncontrollable, almighty, that nothing can stand in the 
way of. All things in heaven and earth are committed unto him; - all 
power is his; - and he will use it unto this end, - namely, the 
assured salvation of all that come unto him. 
    7. Consider greatly what has been spoken of the representation 
of God, and all the holy properties of his nature, in him. Nothing 
can possibly give us more encouragement to come unto him; for we 
have manifested that God, who is infinitely wise and glorious, has 
designed to exert all the holy properties of his nature - his mercy, 
love, grace, goodness, righteousness, wisdom, and power - in him, in 
and unto the salvation of them that do believe. Whoever, therefore, 
comes unto Christ by faith on this representation of the glory of 
God in him, he ascribes and gives unto God all that glory and honour 
which he aimeth at from his creatures; and we can do nothing 
wherewith he is pleased equal unto it. Every poor soul that comes by 
faith unto Christ, gives unto God all that glory which it is his 
design to manifest and be exalted in; - and what can we do more? 
There is more glory given unto God by coming unto Christ in 
believing, than in keeping the whole law; inasmuch as he hath more 
eminently manifested the holy properties of his nature in the way of 
salvation by Christ, than in giving of the law. There is therefore 
no man who, under gospel invitations, refuseth to come unto and 
close with Christ by believing, but secretly, through the power of 
darkness, blindness, and unbelief, he hates God, dislikes all his 
ways, would not have his glory exalted or manifested, choosing 
rather to die in enmity against him than to give glory to him. Do 
not deceive yourselves; it is not an indifferent thing, whether you 
will come in unto Christ upon his invitations or no, - a thing that 
you may put off from one season unto another: your present refusal 
of it is as high an act of enmity against God as your nature is 
capable of. 
    8. Consider that by coming unto Christ you shall have an 
interest in all that glory which we have proposed unto you; for 
Christ will become yours more intimately than your wives and 
children are yours; and so all his glory is yours also. All are apt 
to be affected with the good things of their relations, - their 
grace, their riches, their beauty, their power; for they judge 
themselves to have an interest in them, by reason of their relation 
unto them. Christ is nearer to believers than any natural relations 
are to us whatever; they have therefore an interest in all his 
glory. And is this a small thing in your eyes, that Christ shall be 
yours, and all his glory shall be yours, and you shall have the 
advantage of it unto your eternal blessedness? Is it nothing unto 
you to continue strangers from, and uninterested in, all this glory? 
to be left to take your portion in this world, in lusts, and sins, 
and pleasures, and a few perishing trifles, with eternal ruin in the 
close, whilst such durable substance, such riches of glory, are 
tendered unto you? 
    Lastly, consider the horrible ingratitude there is in a neglect 
or refusal to come in to Christ upon his invitation, with the 
doleful, eternal ruin that will ensue thereon. "How shall we escape, 
if we neglect so great salvation?" Impenitent unbelievers under the 
preaching of the gospel, are the vilest and most ungrateful of all 
God's creation. The devils themselves, as wicked as they are, are 
not guilty of this sin; for Christ is never tendered unto them, - 
they never had an offer of salvation on faith and repentance. This 
is their peculiar sin, and will be the peculiar aggravation of their 
misery unto eternity. "Hear, ye despisers, wonder, and perish". The 
sin of the devil is in malice and opposition unto knowledge, above 
what the nature of man is in this world. Men, therefore, must sin in 
some instance above the devil, or God would not give them their 
eternal portion with the devil and his angels: - this is unbelief. 
    Some, it may be, will say, What then shall we do? what shall we 
apply ourselves unto? what is it that is required of us? 
    1. Take the advice of the apostle, Heb. 3: 7, 8, 13, "Today, if 
ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the 
provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. But exhort 
one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be 
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." This day, even this, is 
unto you in the tender of grace the acceptable time; - this is the 
day of salvation. Others have had this day as well as you, and have 
missed their opportunity; - take heed lest it should be so with you 
also. Now if any one should write it down, or peculiarly commit it 
to remembrance, "This day there was a tender of Christ and salvation 
in him made unto my soul, - from this time I will resolve to give up 
myself unto him," and if you form your resolutions, charge your 
consciences with what you have engaged, and make yourselves to know 
that if you go back from it, it is a token that you are going to 
    2. Consider that it is high time for you to make somewhat of 
religion. Do not hang always in suspense; let it not be a question 
with yourselves, whether you have a mind to be saved or no. This is 
as good a time and season for a resolution as ever you are like to 
have whilst in this world. Some things, nay, many things, may fall 
in between this and the next opportunity, that shall put you 
backward, and make your entrance into the kingdom of heaven far more 
difficult than ever it was; and the living in that uncertainty at 
best, which you do, of what will become of you unto eternity, is the 
most miserable kind of life in the world. Those who put far from 
them the evil day, and live in the pursuit of lusts and pleasures, 
have somewhat that gives them present satisfaction, and they say 
not, "There is no hope," because they "find the life of the hand" 
[Isa. 57: 10]; but you have nothing that gives you any prevalent 
refreshment, neither will your latter end be better than theirs, if 
you die without an interest in Christ Jesus. Come, therefore, at 
length, unto a determinate resolution what you will do in this 
matter. Christ has waited long for you, and who knows how soon he 
may withdraw, never to look after you any more? 
    Upon occasion of the preceding Discourse concerning the Glory 
of Christ, I thought it necessary to add unto it this brief 
exhortation unto faith in him, aiming to suit it unto the capacity 
of the meanest sinner that is capable of any self-consideration as 
unto his eternal welfare. But yet, a little farther to give efficacy 
unto this exhortation, it will be necessary to remove some of those 
common and obvious tergiversations that convinced sinners do usually 
retake themselves unto, to put off a present compliance with the 
calls of Christ to come unto him; for although it is unbelief alone, 
acting in the darkness of men's minds and the obstinacy of their 
wills, that effectually keeps off sinners from coming unto Christ 
upon his call, yet it shrouds itself under various pretences, that 
it may not appear in its own ugly form. For no sin whereof men can 
be guilty in this world is of so horrible a nature, and so dreadful 
an aspect, as is this unbelief, where a clear view of it is obtained 
in evangelical light. Wherefore, by the aid of Satan, it suggests 
other pleas and pretences unto the minds of sinners, under which 
they may countenance themselves in a refusal to come to Christ. See 
2 Cor. 4: 4. Any thing else it shall be, but not unbelief; - that 
they all disavow. I shall therefore speak unto a few of those 
tergiversations in this case which are obvious, and which are 
exemplified in the Gospel itself. 
    First, Some do say, on such exhortations, What is it that you 
would have us to do? - We hear the word preached, we believe it as 
well as we can, we do many things willingly, and abstain from many 
evils diligently; what is more required of us? This is the language 
of the hearts of the most with whom in this case we have to do. And 
I say, - 
    l. It is usual with them who do something in the ways of God, 
but not all they should, and so nothing in a due manner, to 
expostulate about requiring of them more than they do. So the people 
dispute with God himself, Mal. 1: 6, 3: 8, 13. So they in the Gospel 
who esteemed themselves to have done their duty, being pressed unto 
faith by Christ Jesus, ask him with some indignation, "What shall we 
do, that we might work the works of God?" John 6: 28. If what we do 
be not enough, what is it that you require more of us? So was it 
with the young man, Matt. 19: 20, "What lack I yet?" Be advised, 
therefore, not to be too confident of your state, lest you should 
yet lack that one thing, the want whereof might prove your eternal 
    2. The things mentioned, with all of the like nature, which may 
be multiplied, may be where there is no one spark of saving faith. 
Simon Magus heard the word, and believed as well as he could; - 
Herod heard it, and did many things gladly; - and all sorts of 
hypocrites do upon their convictions perform many duties, and 
abstain from many sins: so as that, notwithstanding this plea, you 
may perish for ever. 
    3. Where these things are sincere, they belong unto the 
exercise of faith; they may be after a sort without faith, but faith 
cannot be without them. But there is a fundamental act of faith, 
whereby we close with Christ, whereby we receive him, that is, in 
order of nature, antecedent unto its acting in all other duties and 
occasions; - it is laying the foundation; other things belong to the 
building. This is that you are called on to secure; and you may know 
it by these two properties: - 
    1. It is singular. So our Saviour tells the Jews, John 6: 29, 
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he has sent." 
The act, work, or duty of faith, in the receiving of Christ, is a 
peculiar, singular work, wherein the soul yields especial obedience 
unto God; - it is not to be reckoned unto such common duties as 
those mentioned, but the soul must find out wherein it has in a 
singular manner closed with Christ upon the command of God. 
    2. It is accompanied with a universal spiritual change in the 
whole soul, 2 Cor. 5: 17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new 
creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become 
new." Wherefore, if you would not choose rather to deceive and ruin 
your own souls, come to the trial whether indeed you have received 
Christ in such a singular, transforming act of faith: do not on such 
pretences want a compliance with the word of exhortation proposed 
unto you. But, - 
    Secondly, Some will say, they know not how to proceed in this 
work. They can make nothing of it; they have tried to come to this 
believing, but do still fail in what they design; they go on and 
off, but can make no progress, can come to no satisfaction; 
therefore they think it best to let things go in general as they 
are, without putting themselves to farther trouble, as unto any 
especial act of faith in the receiving of Christ. This is the 
language of men's hearts, though not of their mouths, another 
shelter of unbelief, - and they act accordingly; they have a secret 
despondency, which keeps them safe from attempting a real closure 
with Christ on the tender of the Gospel. Something may be offered 
unto this distempered frame of mind. 
    1. Remember the disciples that were fishing, and had toiled all 
night, but caught nothing, Luke 5: 3, 4. Upon the coming of Christ 
unto them, he requires that they should cast out their nets once 
more; Peter makes some excuse, from the labour which they had taken 
in vain all night; however, he would venture once more, on the 
command of Christ, and had an astonishing draught of fishes, verses 
5-9. Have you been wearied with disappointments in your attempts and 
resolutions? Yet cast in your net this once more, upon the command 
of Christ, - venture this once more to come unto him on his call and 
invitation; you know not what success he may give unto you. 
    2. Consider that it is not failing in this or that attempt of 
coming to Christ, but a giving over your endeavours, that will be 
your ruin. The woman of Canaan, in her great outcry to Christ for 
mercy, Matt. 15: 22, had many a repulse. First, it is said, he 
answered her not a word; then his disciples desired that he would 
send her away, that she might not trouble him any more; whereon he 
gives a reason why he would not regard her, or why he could justly 
pass her by; she was not an Israelitess, unto whom he was sent; - 
yet she gives not over, but pressing into his presence, cries out 
for mercy, verse 25. Being come to that issue, to try and draw out 
her faith to the utmost, which was his design from the beginning, he 
reckons her among dogs, that were not to have children's bread given 
unto them. Had she now at last given over upon this severe rebuke, 
she had never obtained mercy; but persisting in her request, she at 
last prevailed, verses 27, 28. It may be you have prayed, and cried, 
and resolved, and vowed, but all without success, as you suppose; 
sin has broken through all: however, if you give not over, you shall 
prevail at last; you know not at what time God will come in with his 
grace, and Christ will manifest his love unto you as unto the poor 
woman, after many a rebuke. It may be, after all, he will do it this 
day; and if not, he may do it another: do not despond. Take that 
word of Christ himself for your encouragement, Prov. 8: 34, "Blessed 
is the man that hearth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at 
the posts of my doors." If you hear him, and wait, though you have 
not yet admission, but are kept at the gates and posts of the doors, 
yet in the issue you shall be blessed. 
    3. The rule in this case is, Hos. 6: 3, "Then shall we know, if 
we follow on to know." Are you in the way of knowing Christ in the 
use of means, hearing the word, and sincere endeavours in holy 
duties? Though you cannot yet attain unto any evidence that you have 
received him, have closed with him, nothing can ruin you but giving 
over the way wherein you are; for then shall you know, if you follow 
on to know the Lord. Many can give you their experiences, that if 
they had been discouraged by present overwhelming difficulties, 
arising from their disappointments, breaking of vows, relapses into 
folly, they had been utterly ruined; whereas now they are at rest 
and peace in the bosom of Christ. On a great surprisal, Christ lost 
at once many disciples, and they lost their souls, John 6: 66, "They 
went back, and walked no more with him." Take heed of the like 
    Thirdly, Some may say, yea, practically they do say, that these 
things indeed are necessary; they must come to Christ by believing, 
or they are undone; but this is not the season of it, - there will 
be time enough to apply themselves unto it when other occasions are 
past. At present they have not leisure to enter upon and go through 
with this duty; wherefore they will abide in their present state for 
a while, hearing and doing many things, and when time serves, will 
apply themselves unto this duty also. 
    1. This is an uncontrollable evidence of that sottishness and 
folly which is come upon our nature by sin, - a depravation that the 
apostle places in the head of the evils of corrupted nature, Tit. 3: 
1-3. Can any thing be more foolish, sottish, and stupid, than for 
men to put off the consideration of the eternal concernment of their 
souls for one hour, being altogether uncertain whether they shall 
live another or n? - to prefer present triodes before the 
blessedness or misery of an immortal state? For those who never 
heard of these things, who never had any conviction of sin and 
judgement, to put the evil day far from them, is not much to be 
admired; but for you who have Christ preached unto you, who own a 
necessity of coming unto him, to put it off from day to day upon 
such slight pretences, - it is an astonishing folly! May you not be 
spoken unto in the language of the Wisdom of God, Prov. 6: 9-11. You 
come to hear the word, and when you go away, the language of your 
hearts is, "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding 
of the hands to sleep;" we will abide a little while in our present 
state, and afterward we will rouse up ourselves. Under this deceit 
do multitudes perish every day. This is a dark shade, wherein cursed 
unbelief lies hid. 
    2. Consider that this is the greatest engine that Satan makes 
use of in the world among them that hear the word preached unto 
them, for the ruin of their souls. He has other arts, and ways, and 
methods of dealing with other men, - as by sensual and worldly 
lusts; but as unto them who, through their convictions, do attend 
unto the preaching of the word, this is his great and almost only 
engine for their ruin: There needs no haste in this matter, - 
another time will be more seasonable, - you may be sure not to fail 
of it before you die; however, this present day and time is most 
unfit for it, - you have other things to do, - you cannot part with 
your present frame, - you may come again to hear the word the next 
opportunity. Know assuredly, if your minds are influenced unto 
delays of coming to Christ by such insinuations, you are under the 
power of Satan, and he is like enough to hold you fast unto 
    3. This is as evil and dangerous a posture or frame of mind as 
you can well fall under. If you have learned to put off God, and 
Christ, and the word for the present season, and yet relieve 
yourselves in this, that you do not intend, like others, always to 
reject them, but will have a time to hearken to their calls, you are 
secured and fortified against all convictions and persuasions, all 
fears; one answer will serve for all, - within a little while you 
will do all that can be required of you. This is that which ruins 
the souls of multitudes every day. It is better dealing with men 
openly profligate, than with such a trifling promiser. See Isa. 5: 
7, 10. 
    4. Remember that the Scripture confines you unto the present 
day, without the least intimation that you shall have either another 
day, or another tender of grace and mercy in any day, 2 Cor. 6: 2; 
Heb. 3: 7, 13; 12: 15. Take care lest you come short of the grace of 
God, miss of it by missing your opportunity. Redeem the time, or you 
are lost for ever. 
    5. As unto the pretence of your occasions and business, there 
is a ready way to disappoint the craft of Satan in that pretence, - 
namely, to mix thoughts of Christ and the renovation of your 
resolutions either to come or to cleave unto him with all your 
occasions. Let nothing put it utterly out of your minds; make it 
familiar unto you, and you will beat Satan out of that stronghold, 
Prov. 7: 4. However, shake yourselves out of this dust, or 
destruction lies at the door. 
    Fourthly, It is the language of the hearts of some, that if 
they give up themselves unto a compliance with this exhortation, and 
go seriously about this duty, they must relinquish and renounce all 
their lusts and pleasures; yea, much of their converse and society, 
wherein they find so much present satisfaction, as that they know 
not how to part with them. If they might retain their old ways, at 
least some of them, it were another matter; but this total 
relinquishment of all is very severe. 
    Ans. 1. The Jesuits, preaching and painting of Christ among 
some of the Indians, concealed from them his cross and sufferings, 
telling them only of his present glory and power; so as they 
pretended to win them over to faith in him, hiding from them that 
whereby they might be discouraged; and so preached a false Christ 
unto them, one of their own framing. We dare do no such thing for 
all the world; we can here use no condescension, no compliance, no 
composition with respect unto any sin or lust; we have no commission 
to grant that request of Lot, "Is it not a little one? let it be 
spared;" nor to come to Naaman's terms, "God be merciful to me in 
this thing; in all others I will be obedient." Wherefore, - 
    2. We must here be peremptory with you, whatever be the event; 
if you are discouraged by it, we cannot help it. Cursed be the man 
that shall encourage you to come to Christ with hopes of indulgence 
unto any one sin whatever. I speak not this as though you could at 
once absolutely and perfectly leave all sin, in the root and 
branches of it; but only you are to do it in heart and resolution, 
engaging unto a universal mortification of all sin, as by grace from 
above you shall be enabled; but your choice must be absolute, 
without reserves, as to love, interest, and design; - God or the 
world, - Christ or Belial, - holiness or sin; there is no medium, no 
terms of composition, 2 Cor. 6: 15-18. 
    As unto what you pretend of your pleasures, the truth is, you 
never yet had any real pleasure, nor do know what it is. How easy 
were it to declare the folly, vanity, bitterness, poison of those 
things which you have esteemed your pleasures! Here alone - namely, 
in Christ, and a participation of him - are true pleasures and 
durable riches to be obtained; pleasure of the same nature with, and 
such as, like pleasant streams, flow down into the ocean of eternal 
pleasures above. A few moments in these joys are to be preferred 
above the longest continuance in the cursed pleasures of this world. 
See Prov. 3: 13-18. 
    Fifthly, It will be said by some, that they do not see those 
who profess themselves to be believers, to be so much better than 
they are, as that you need to press us so earnestly to so great a 
change; we know not why we should not be accounted believers 
already, as well as they. I shall in a few words, as well as I am 
able, lay this stumbling-block out of the way, though I confess, at 
this day, it is weighty and cumbersome. And I say, - 
    1. Among them that profess themselves to be believers, there 
are many false, corrupt hypocrites; and it is no wonder that on 
various occasions they lay the stumbling-block of their iniquities 
before the faces of others; but they shall bear their own burden and 
    2. It is acknowledged, it must be bewailed, that some whom we 
have reason to judge to be true believers, yet, through their 
unfortified pride, or covetousness, or carelessness in their 
conversation, or vain attire and conformity to the world, or 
forwardness, do give just occasion of offence. We confess that God 
is displeased herewith, Christ and the Gospel dishonoured, and many 
that are weak are wounded, and others discouraged. But as for you, 
this is not your rule, - this is not proposed unto you; but that 
word only is so that will never fail you. 
    3. The world does not know, nor is able to make a right 
judgement of believers; nor do you so, for it is the spiritual man 
alone that discerneth the things of God. Their infirmities are 
visible to all, - their graces invisible; the King's daughter is 
glorious within. And when you are able to make a right judgement of 
them, you will desire no greater advancement than to be of their 
society, Ps. 16: 3. 
    These few instances of the pretences wherewith unbelief covers 
its deformity, and hides that destruction wherewith it is 
accompanied, may suffice unto our present purpose; they are 
multiplied in the minds of men, impregnated by the suggestions of 
Satan on their darkness and folly. A little spiritual wisdom will 
rend the veil of them all, and expose unbelief acting in enmity 
against Christ under them. But what has been spoken may suffice to 
answer the necessity of the preceding exhortation on this occasion. 

(continued in file 2... )

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owgch2-1.txt