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Mr. Colman's Sermon On Isaiah I. 10. Come now, & let us reason together, saith the LORD.

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GOD deals with us as rational Creatures: And if Sinners would but hearken to Reason they would repent.

A SERMON PREACHED at the Lecture in Boston, February, 7.1722, 3. And now Publish'd at the desire and request of One that heard it.

By Benjamin Colman.

Micah vii. 18.

Who is a GOD like unto Thee? that pardoneth Iniquity.

Hosea vi. 4.

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?

BOSTON in N. E. Printed by B. Green, for Daniel Henchman, 1723.

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GOD deals with us as rational Creatures: And if Sinners would but hearken to Reason they would repent.

ISAIAH I. 10.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:

WE have here the Great and dreadful GOD, bespeaking his sinful and wretched people, in the most gracious and merciful manner that can be imagined. He is earnestly calling them to Repentance and Reformation; Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings, &c. He is assuring them of the ready and full pardon of all their Sins upon their Repentance, how heinous and ag­gravated soever they were: Tho' your sins be as Scarlet, &c. He proposes therefore to reason the Case with them, that he might effectually convince, affect and perswade them; Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord.

LET them hear GOD what he has to say to 'em, and GOD is ready to hear them in their [Page 2]turn, if they can have any thing to answer, any reason to give, why they should not repent.

WAS ever any any thing so Good, condescend­ing and compassionate? So righteous, equitable and reasonable? as a Father to his erring Son, rather than as a Judge unto his provoking, arraigned, judged people! Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord.

JUST before he had been decking himself with Majesty, and arraying himself with glory, and speaking with the utmost severity and terror: ver. 2. Hear O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken ver. 10. Hear ye the word of the Lord ye people of Sodom and Gomorrah! But how sweetly does the style here change into the mild and softer words of Grace, mercy and com­passion! Come now and let us reason together saith the Lord, &c.

IT may be the people of Judah might be ready to object against the vehemence and severity of GOD by his Prophet, as too much and hard and unreasonable. That they were a sinful People they might be ready to own, but not to that degree nor so universally as they are here charged and arraign­ed, they might be ready to hope. And tho' there might be much amiss in the Worship they render'd to GOD, yet they might look upon the slight pour'd thereupon, ver. 11, 12, 13, to be in a very unreasonable Excess. Wherefore to obviate and answer such a rising and reasoning in their hearts, GOD speaks in the Text; "Come now, and let us reason together, let us debate the matter fairly, let me convince you of my own Justice and Equity, righteousness and goodness, if words will convince [Page 3]you. "Thus religion has reason on its side, and the GOD of heaven condescends to reason the Case with them that contradict him, and find fault with his proceedings.

To this purpose and after this manner we often find the gracious GOD stooping to reason the Case with his poor people, against themselves. Isa. 5.3. And now O Inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge I pray you betwixt me and my Vineyard. And in the 43. Chap. 26. ver. Put me in remem­brance, says GOD; Let us plead together, declare thou, that thou mayst be justified. What fair play is here for their lives! did ever a Judge bespeak thus a Prisoner at the Bar! or could a fellow Mor­tal, a fellow worm, say more to a Criminal that stood for his life? The 18th Chapter of the pro­phesies of Ezekiel is all in this strain; particularly, v. 25. Hear now, O house of Israel, is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? And to name no more, the Holy One leaves it to the Conscience of his people to accuse him if they cou'd & acquit themselves: Micah 6.2, 3. For the Lord hath a con­troversie with his people, and he will plead with Israel; O my people, what have I done unto thee? testify against me. These passages, some of 'em, do even exceed the Words of my text in graciousness. They are a high and glorious Comment on them. They shine like the Sun in their own brightness, and no words of man can add to them.

To come now to my Text, and raise some Doctrinal Observations from it.

I. GOD deals with us as rational Creatures and treats us in the most reasonable manner. Come now and let us reason, &c.

[Page 4] II. IF Sinners would but hearken to reason they would repent. Wash you, make you clean ▪ put away come now, and let us reason together.

III. GOD reasons therefore and argues with men for this very end to bring 'em to repentance. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, tho' your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool, &c.

PROP. I. GOD deals with us as rational Crea­tures, and treats with us in a reasonable manner. Such he made us, and accordingly he treats us.

1. HE made us rational Creatures. GOD made Man a living Soul; he made him in his own Image; he made him but a little lower than the Angels, an Intelligent & immortal Spirit as they are. Gen. 1.26. And God said, let us make man in our I­mage, after our likeness, and let him have dominion. It is the Soul of man that does especially bear the Image of GOD. In this it is that he resembles the Great Father of Spirits; even as the Offspring re­sembles the Parent. Act. 17.28. For we are his off­spring. "The faculties of our Souls are to us as the clearest looking-glass wherein to see GOD. By these it is that we become capable of conceiving of GOD's Spiritual Nature & Perfections, Provi­dence, Government & Judgment. We are Minds. As the Angels of Heaven are Intelligences; so Man is a Spiritual Intelligence, Job 32.8. There is a spirit in man, aud the Inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. There is a Soul in man endued with a principle and power of reasoning; and this Mind needs to be enlightned by the Spirit of GOD. In our natural state we are taught more than the beast of the earth, and are made Wiser than the fowl of heaven; but in Regeneration the Under­standing [Page 5]of man is divinely Illuminated from above to discern the things of GOD. The Spirit of Man is the Candle of the LORD; Prov. 20.27. Of his lighting within him and setting up there, to give light to the house. Such a light within is Conscience; a most noble faculty, GOD's Deputy. The Fa­ther of Spirits is the Father of this Light. He lighteth every man that cometh into the world, Joh. 1.9. We feel this power of thinking, reasoning and arguing in our selves. My thoughts cause me to answer, said Zophar: I am full of matter, said Elibu, and the Spirit within me, constraineth me. We are made rational Creatures, Intelligent Beings.

2. Accordingly GOD deals with us; treats us and carries toward us. This is right and just; and ne­cessary to the most perfect Being. He governs and orders all his Creatures according to the nature he gives them. The Creatures that have not reason for their own Conduct, he rules them by Instinct. Those that have reason are capable of moral Go­vernment, and accordingly he governs them by daws given to them.

1. OUR holy and glorious Maker has written his Law in us; and it was written very fairly in man at first. Yea there yet remains very legible upon the heart of man much of the will and law of GOD to him, and he that will but look within himself, and attend to the voice of his own Reason and Con­science, can't but read it there. Hence we read of the very heathen that they retained the Truth in unrighteousness, Rom. 1.18. They did not go­vern themselves by the dictates of their own reason and Conscience, but rebelled against the same. [Page 6] That which might be known of God was manifest in them; for God had shewed it unto them. That is, his own Essential Attributes and Perfections, from whence they might and should have argu'd their relation to him, his Expectation from them and Will concerning them; their Duty and Obligations towards him. They were left without excuse in their acting contrary to this light of nature and trampling under foot their own Reason; becoming vain in their Imaginations and darkning their own foolish hearts. Indeed this is essential to a rational Creature to have the Law of GOD written on his Mind and Conscience; for Reason in us is this Law; and it is given man for his Government and Conduct.

2. SINCE our fall GOD has written his Law, mind and will to us in his Word. This be­came necessary for the recovery of man from the Ruin his Apostacy had bro't upon him. The light of reason was wofully obscured, and the law writ­ten upon his heart dreadfully obliterated, by the corruption of the Soul, and the Ascendency that lust had gain'd; so that a Revelation from GOD became necessary, and that he should write the great things of his law in tables of stone, which he had before written in the table of the heart. And accordingly GOD has done so; and we have his Book in our hands, to read it with our eyes, and know his Mind and Will for our Salvation; that we may do it and be blessed.

1. GOD has given his Word to inform our Understandings in what is right and good. He hath shewed thee; O man, what is good and what doth the LORD thy GOD require of thee. The [Page 7]Commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; and all that is written by the Inspiration of GOD, is written for our learning, that we thro' patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope. The way of man is not now in himself, nor is he a suffi­cient Law unto himself; therefore is the glorious Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, according to the Com­mandment of the Everliving GOD, made known to all Nations for the Obedience of Faith. This only can make us wise unto Salvation: this Wisdom from above; the word which is near unto us, in our hands, lips and hearts. Nor are we to be wise above what is written.

2. THIS written word of GOD is given to com­mand our wills, and Conscience to embrace and obey the truth and duty, therein proposed to us. It addresses with a full and absolute authority to this Imperial faculty within us, being the law of the Su­preme Majesty of heaven to us. Deut. 4.1. Now therefore hearken, O Israel unto the statutes & judg­ments which I teach you to do them. And the more effectually to command our souls it addresses powerfully,

3. TO our hopes & fears, and unto every passion of our Souls by them to work on us. To our hopes by the most constraining promises; and to our fears by the most dreadful threatnings. It sets before us a blessing & a curse, Deut. 11.26. A blessing if we obey the Commandments of the Lord our God, and a curse if we do not. Our souls move upon these Motives if either reason or sense be hearkned to. And because we are drawn by love and urg'd on to a thing by desire; therefore the sure Word of GOD addresses to these Affections in [Page 8]us, that we love the LORD our GOD with all our hearts and with all our Souls, and seek him with our whole desires. In like manner, whatever other passion and affection is common to man, and which are the Avenues to his Soul, those ways has the HOLY GHOST taken in his inspired word by one or other of them to surprise or force our Souls. It sometimes therefore moves our anger and in­dignation, sometimes our hatred, sometimes our grief or shame.

THUS GOD deals with us as with rational Creatures, and according to the nature and facul­ties he has given us: Wherein as he puts honour on Man's reason, so he shews how great a Sin it is in man to violate his own Reason and offend against it. We ought to use the Reason GOD has given, yea and to reverence it: It is the rule and law of the Eternal and perfect Infinite Mind inscribed on us and for us: we shou'd reverence it as the Wisdom of GOD, as indeed it is.

PROP. II. IF Sinners would but hearken to rea­son they would repent. If men would but govern themselves by reason and act rationally, they would not continue in Sin. For,

1. RIGHT reason is a Divine Law to Man: the law of GOD in us, the voice of GOD to us. It is the Eternal and immutable rule of truth, goodness and righteousness. There can be no trans­gression of it, nor Deviation from it without Sin. It is the law and light of Nature; the Law that Angels act by, the Rule of all GOD's perfect Acts and Works. "There are certain Rules of moral "goodness, wherein all Understandings are agreed, [Page 9]and in acting according to which ever Intelligent Being attains its true perfection. It is the Glory of GOD that he always acts according to the most perfect Reason, and this is the Crown of Angels, and the unchangable Rule of Man's arriving at the honour and happiness for which he was created.

2. IF reason had been hearkned to, Man had never fallen from GOD, or sinn'd against him. Had he attended to the voice of his own upright Conscience he had preserv'd his Integrity. Had Eve stood by her own wise and just Answer at first to the Tempter, and accordingly detested his mo­tion to her, she had trod him under fool and broken his head with her heel. But she listned to the Tempter's Answer, and suffered her mind to wan­der from the words she first spake in the Wisdom of GOD. Gen. 3.2, 3. And the Woman said unto the serpent,—God hath said, ye shall not eat of this tree, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. Indeed it may seem that Eve did not act according to the Dictate of right reason in answering the Serpent at all; yet her Answer was according to the Dictate of right reason, full of Gratitude, Righteousness and Resolution; and had she stood by it she had baffled the tempter, and preserv'd her self and us. But presently she abandon'd her Reason, and prostituted her Conscience, listning to the Devil and to the lye which he gave to GOD, and looking on the fruit with a lusting Eye. Had she not left her reason, she had not lost her self.

3. MAN's recovery to GOD depends now upon his attention to the voice of reason and Consci­ence, upon the Discoveries, proposals and Call of the Gospel to him. Let the Sinner consider these, and [Page 10]use his reason and hearken to his own Conscience, and he will turn unto GOD. Let him think of his ways, his folly and sin, his Interest and duty; which the Convictions of the HOLY SPIRIT bring every one to do that repents; and he will turn his feet to God's testimonies. So the Prodigal came to himself, and reasoned rightly with himself, and arose and came to his Father, Luke 15.17. He had in all his riot acted madly and irrationally, an absurd and irrational part; but now he came to himself, to the use of his Understanding, to a sober reasoning with himself, he straitway left his vicious Courses. This Exercise of reason and acting upon it is a thing very pleasing to GOD; as it is to a wise and good Parent to see a foolish, passionate and obstinate Child bethink himself and humble himself. Job 33.27. He looketh upon men, and if any say I have sinned, and perverted that which is right and it prositeth me not; he will deliver his soul from going down into the pit, and his life shall see the light. In a word, The End of the writ­ten and preached Word is to reclaim men from sin, and to recover them from guilt and hell by bringing them to repentance; and this by in­forming and enlightning their minds and awaken­ing their Consciences. It may be said of the whole word, its use, design and end, as it is of the Book of Proverbs in particular, Prov. 1. Init. That we may know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to give knowledge and dis­cretion, and that we may attain unto wise Counsels. Grace restores the Exercise of reason and brings Sinners to repent. The Prophet therefore thus ad­dresses them; Isa. 46.8. Remember this, and shew [Page 11]your selves Men; bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. i. e. Use your reason, review your actions, look 'em over and over, do it deliverately, calmly, seriously; consider the nature of your evil­doings, the issue and Consequent of them; and you will be no longer transgressors; you will repent of your past transgressions, you will trangress no more.

But here it is necessary to say,

1. FALLEN-MAN could not by any natural light have discovered whether GOD would admit or decept of his repentance; or what kind or degree of repentance he would require; or how any sort and degree of it could procure favour with GOD, or prevail to obtain his most gracious pardon. The reason of Man could carry him no further than a peradventure as to these things; and as his Interest would lead him to wish it possible for GOD to for­give Sin; so a general notion of the goodness of GOD might possibly lead him to think it probable, or to presume on it as certain that there is forgiveness with GOD, upon a Sinner's repentance. But at last the bare Reason of Mankind could never afford us any certain Information about GOD's for­giving Sin; and our guilt would forbid us to build any hope upon a rotten Conjecture.

2. THE meer force of natural reason can never prevail upon any truly to repent. Let a Man's own Reason and Conscience do it's best by its self alone to convince and perswade him, a corrupt nature bears it down with violence; or let a meer Man or Angel reason with us in the wisdom of GOD, and with all the art and power of moral svasion it will not suffice. For Reason in Man is depraved, corrupted, enfeebled, inslaved by the Fall: It is [Page 12]wofully darkned, obscured, clouded and eclipsed by the Apostacy; and there is, 1. A wicked Re­bellion in the Soul of man against that light of rea­son that remains therein. Eph. 4.18. Having the understanding darkned, being alienated from the life of God thro' the Ignorance that is in us, by rea- of the blindness of the heart. Thus the light that is in us becomes in a manner darkness, and the poor light that is, is resisted, sinn'd against, and quench'd by the violent lusts and passions of Men. Besides, 2. There is a wretched Impotency in man to act up to the light of Reason within him. It can't and won't attend to its voice in every case; nor can it easily know the true judgment and determination of reason in every case; but thro' the Corruption that is in the world thro' lust, many things occur to biass and mislead men from judging according to right reason; Often Education does so; and being miss-taught in our early days, we easily imbibe errors, false reasonings and prejudices against the truth; and often where we are well Instructed at first, yet our lusts corrupt, bribe and pervert our Judgment; and the law in the members wars against the law in the mind and leads into Captivity to the law of sin in the members. It is not therefore in the power of meer Reason to prevail upon a sinner to repent. But

3. GOD by his powerful Spirit and Grace, when he renews a Soul unto repentance, brings it to at­tend and hearken unto the voice of reason and Con­science. He renews the Mind of man and en­lightens it; gives it a new and true sight of things; a discovery of truth by a divine Illumination, brings it to reason justly, and he that was once darkness [Page 13]is now light in the Lord. It is to the restored Soul as it was with Nebuchadnezar, who had lost his reason and been like a Brute Creature; but at once his reason return'd to him, his honour and his brightness, and excellent Majesty was ad­ded to him, Dan. 4.26. Again, In renewing a Soul to repentance, the Divine Spirit renews life Conscience, and restores its fidelity and authority; to challenge and rebuke for sin, to require and com­mand us in the Name of GOD. He renews the Will also, obediently to follow the dictates of the enlightned Mind; and he renews the Affections, so that these govern themselves in their actings and exercise by the rules of right reason; and so the Souls love and hatred, desire and aversation, hopes and fears, joys and griefs, are directed unto right Ob­jects, and proportion'd to them in just degrees and measures, regulated by the will of GOD revealed to us, and for his glory. By all which,

4. GOD makes that discovery of himself, of sin, of his will and grace for our Salvation, that the Soul cannot resist but most freely falls into the ex­ercise of a gracious repentance. 1. GOD shews the sinner something of his own Majesty and Holi­ness; his right to command him and give law to him, the perfect righteousness and sanctity of all his laws, and his power and resolution to judge him according to his Law. 2. GOD shows him hence the moral Evil of Sin, the rebellion that is in it against his Authority, the Enmity in it to his holiness, the presumption and insolence, ingrati­tude and baseness there is in it, and its aursed Ma­lignity, guilt desert and obligation to punishment. 3. GOD shews the Sinner the natural Evil, (i. e. [Page 14]the Curse) which is the fruit of sin; the Evil that pursues it, the wrath and vengeance that is due to it, and hangs over the sinners head. The sinners eyes are opened to behold the troops of present outward evils and miseries, Judgments and Cala­mities, which Sin brings upon men in this life, and which are concluded in bodily death. And the sinners eyes are yet more intently fixed up on the Threatning and Infliction of Spiritual, in­ward and Soul miseries. He has felt Spiritual Death, and he fears and apprehends Eternal Death. He is bowed down under a cursed Nature, and feels the plague of his own heart; his woful Impotence to what is Good and Holy, yea the aversation, en­mity and loathing in his cursed Nature to it. He realises the second Death, an Eternal damnation and perdition, in the fire of Hell, and under the burning wrath of a holy GOD for ever. And now at last, 4. GOD shews the sinner a way of deliverance from the guilt and curse of sin, and from its rule and power. He shews him the Sa­viour, which is CHRIST the LORD; what he has done to save him; how glorious the Salvation by him is, both in the manger of the Impetration of it, and in its affects; and how the Attributes of GOD (his Wisdom, truth, holiness, justice, grace and mercy) are together glorified and ex­alted in the Justification of the repenting Sinner. GOD shews the Sinner that there is but this one way of Salvation for him, and that there is Salvation in no other; nor on any other terms, but those of the Gospel, namely, faith in our Lord JESUS CHRIST, repentance toward GOD, and obe­dience to the Gospel. Upon all, 5. The Holy Spi­rit [Page 15]effectually impresses on the Conscience of the awakned Sinner the Necessity of repenting, and the Importance of it; and causes the sinner to see his own perishing state, and the infinite felicity and glory of a pardoned state and hereby He conquers, constrains & brings over the Soul to an infinite desire of Grace to repent, and turn from all Sin to GOD; which desires when created by the Spirit of GOD in the Soul are by his power and of his mercy bro't into act, and fulfilled in the Soul. Sometimes this is effected more deliberately and in form; step by step; sometimes more suddenly, as the light that struck Saul down on the way, and the Voice that call'd to him, set him instantly a trembling, en­quiring, praying and determin'd him for CHRIST. Sometimes the sinner is wro't upon effectually by the Word alone, sometimes by the rod together with it; and usually the Judgments both of GOD's mouth and of his hand concur in his effectual Cal­ling.

THUS GOD in renewing a Sinner to repentance brings him to attend and hearken to the voice of Reason and Conscience enlightned by the revealed word. Hence the Work is GOD's, if men do repent; and the fault is mans if he do not repent, and GOD is every way justified whether men repent or not. The Sinner is of himself wilfull and obstinate; shuts his eyes and stops his ears, blows out the candle of the LORD within him, won't use his reason, won't hearken to, nor consider of the things that are spoken by the Lord unto him. If he would but hearken to his own Reason and Conscience, judging by the Word he would repent.

[Page 16] I come now to the third, and last Proposition, which is.

PROP III. THAT GOD condescends to reason and argue with men for this very end, to bring them unto repentance. Come now and let us rea­son together, &c.

1. HE reasons in the Word and by it. The sum and substance, scope and argument of the written Word is this. This is the thing proposed in the whole Revelation of GOD's will, his Law and Gospel. The Doctrines, precepts, promises, threat­nings, history and examples of both Testaments, agree and concur in this; the reducing Sinners unto GOD by JESUS CHRIST, to a state of Grace and pardon here and of glory hereafter. The scope of the Holy Scripture is to command, perswade, invite us to be saved; and to deter, affright and earnestly dehort us from the ways of sin and death. The whole of Divine Revelation to us conspires at last in those words of the prophet, Ezek. 18.23, 31. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God? and not that he should re­turn from his ways, and live? Cast away therefore all your transgressions; whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israe?

2. GOD reasons with sinners unto this purpose by his providential dealings with them and towards them. These have a voice, and cry to us, and the men of wisdom will hear the same. These back and confirm the Word, call it to mind and fix it in the memory; strike the low sense of feeling: Put [Page 17]forth thy hand now and touch his bone and his flesh. First by his Goodness, GOD would lead the sin­ner to repentance; and then by his Judgments he would excite and drive them thereunto. And while he chastens by his rod, he teaches the Soul by his Spirit, out of his Law. As Absalom set Joah's field on fire to bring him to him, after he had once and again sent to him, but he would not come; so GOD sends Judgments and Corrections when he can't prevail by the more gentle methods of lenity and mildness Indeed this is a harsh way of reasoning, but a necessary one, and too often in­effectual; I have stricken them but they have not grieved. But it is a proper and effectual way some­times; He openeth their ear to discipline and com­mandeth that they return from iniquity. Proud and obstinate sinners will not be brought to the foot of GOD without this severity.

3. GOD reasons with sinners by his Ministers in the Word preached. Ministers argue and reason the case with sinners in GOD's name and stead, from his Word. So Paul reasoned before Felix of temperance, righteousness and the Judgment to come, till his guilty Soul was fill'd with trembling; and again in a more mild and svasive manner of speech he almost perswaded Agrippa to be a Christian. By the preaching of the Word it is that GOD addres­ses, applies, appeals to and reaches the hearts and Consciences of men; while the Preacher opens and applies the Doctrines, precepts, promises and threatnings of the Word. 2 Cor. 5. ult. Now then we are Ambassadors from Christ, as tho' God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God, &c. Rom. 12.1. I beseech [Page 18]you therefore Brethren by the Mercies of God, that you present your Bodies a living sacrifice. We should chuse out our Words to reason with men; to plead with them on GOD's behalf; and as Elibu said to Job and his friends, so should those that hear the word be able to say to their Ministers, Job 32.11, 12. Behold I waited for their words, I gave ear to their reasons, whilst you searched out what to say. Paul was a rational preacher, and a powerful one: Acts 17.2. As his manner was he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures on the sabbath days, opening and alledging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen from the dead, Acts 18.4.

4. GOD reasons with sinners by every Occasio­nal Monitor and Admonition to them. Be it by more private persons, or in a more private way: Be it in a brotherly Conference, or by disputation of friends; in whatever is said that is good unto the use of Edifying and fitly spoken, a word drop'd in season to us; as we are bid to exhort one another daily, and to teach and admonish one another. But especially the Authoritative Instructions, reproofs and counsels of Parents, Tutors, Masters and Mis­tresses, or any Superiors under whose care & watch we are placed, these should be esteemed GOD's Reasoning with us. Job 13.6. Hear now my rea­sonings, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.

5. GOD reasons with sinners by the voice of Con­science within them. This is a power that has light and authority, is endow'd and commission'd to plead for GOD. We must judge within our selves what is right and good; in many Cases. And if our heart condemn us God is greater than our hearts. Thus in reading and hearing the word, and under [Page 19]Providences both gracious and judicial, the Con­sciences of men are touch'd and awakened; and they rise up and speak to the sinner for the bring­ing him to repentance.

6. And lastly, GOD reasons with sinners by his Holy Spirit, striving with them. From of old we know that he strives with man. And he only can reason effectually, convincingly, with man. He is the Divine Teacher come from CHRIST, to work sayingly on the Souls of Sinners by Ordinan­ces and Providences. He can reach the Conscience, command the Soul, and speak with Authority. None teacheth like him; none can enlighten, sancti­fy, convert and save a Soul beside him. He, the former of the Spirit is the Searcher of it; and the mind, the will, the affections and Consciences of men are under his immediate notice & cognisance. He is the Divine Author of Grace in us, the Father of spiritual-light and giver of it. He is the Con­vincer of sin, and the Comforter of penitents. Ef­fectual Calling is his blessed Work, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery and enlightneng our minds in the Knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth perswade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, as he is offered to us in the Gospel. Psal. 143, 10. Teach me to do thy will, thy spirit is good, lead me into the land of uprightness. The weapons of our warfare are mighty thro' him, to pull down strong holds cast down Imaginations and every high thing, and to bring into Captivity every tho't to the Obedience of CHRIST. To this end he waits and reasons and strives long with Souls, and does it strangly; he overcomes the wills and hearts of men, but offers no Violence to them; making them willing in the day of his power.

[Page 20] THUS GOD deals with us as with rational Creatures in his Endeavours to bring us to repen­tance; and would sinners hearken to the reasonings of his Word and Spirit in their hearts they would repent; and for this End it is that he reasons with them.

USE,

AND now to apply what has been said, briefly, See

1. THE Condescention and grace of GOD to us, as well as his Equity and righteousness, and let it affect us with Admiration, thankfulness and love; that he should reason with worms, with rebels and traitors, to reduce them to himself, to their duty and happiness. And O the patience and forbearance of GOD to us! how long suffering is he in his waiting on us, and pursuing with his gracious Rea­sonings!

2. O see and be astonish'd at the Obstinacy and hardness of man, and what an unreasonable, un­tractable, incorrigible Creature he is become: That he should need to be so reasoned with, & be no more prevailed on by the Reasonings of GOD with him. Surely we are more bruitish than the very beasts, have not the understanding of a man, and have lost their Instinct of self-preservation. As our Context has it, Hear, O heavens! and give ear, O earth! for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished & brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

YE fools and blind,—as our LORD said once to some; besotted and desperately mad; blinded by Satan, and led by him at his will, lest the light [Page 21]of the knowledge of the glory of GOD should shine unto them. If our Gospel be hid it is hid unto them that are lost. And what a Hell will the reason and Consciences of Sinners create unto them in the most direful reflections on their own obstinacy and frenzy thrô the days of Eternity! Mark 9.44. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Prov. 1.24. Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh.

3. THE Use may be to congratulate the penitent on the wisdom he shows, the good understanding he manifests. The fear of the LORD that's wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. The penitent Sinner acts a wise part. He hearkens to GOD in his Word; he attends to the voice of his own Conscience; he fears and turns from Sin; He inclines his ear to Wisdom, and applies his heart to understanding; he understands the fear of the Lord, and finds the knowledge of God; now he regards discretion and his lips keep knowledge: He forsakes the foolish and lives, and walks in the way of under­standing.

4. HOW willingly, fervently & unweariedly should Ministers reason with Sinners, labouring their Re­pentance and Conversion to GOD: from Sabbath to Sabbath, from house to house, in season and out of season, reproving rebuking, exhorting with all long-suffering and doctrine; beseeching, entreating in the meekness and gentleness of CHRIST. They should be apt to teach, and fervent in spirit; and mighty in the Scriptures, skilfull in the Word and [Page 22]Doctrine; to lay before men the guiltiness and mi­sery of their natural state, to open aright the cursed nature of Sin, to display before them the riches of free Grace from the doctrines and promises of the Gospel, to draw the Beauties of a Crucified JESUS before the eyes of Sinners; to reason with them, upon the Necessity and Benefit of a timely repen­tance, and to set the Threatnings of GOD in Ar­ray against the Impenitent. But O what know­ledge, wisdom and divine Learning, both in the letter and spirit of Scripture, both in the Word and saving Work of GOD, is necessary hereunto! What application also and diligence in study, in prayer, in Watching over and labours with our own hearts! Prov. 11.30. He that winneth souls is wise, and the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.

5. LET every one reason with himself. Stand in awe and commune with thy own heart; hear GOD's reasonings, and use thy own reasoning faculty. Use it while he continues to speak to thee; to strive with thee; for this will not be always. Should not our hearts burn within us, while he is speaking to us on the way? Consider what he says, and the LORD give you an Understanding; an eye to see, an ear to hear, and a heart to per­ceive, and retain his words.

Wherefore to conclude all,

1. O hearken to the Reasonings of GOD! Hear and your soul shall live. Hear him for his own sake, that he may have glory from thee. Hear him for thy own sake, for it is in tender pity to thy poor Soul that he argues with thee. Hearken to him for CHRIST's sake, for it is Wisdom's Voice, He [Page 23]whose Delights from Everlasting were with the sons of men: Prov. 8.4, 5. Unto you O men I call, and my voice is to the sons of men; O ye simple under­stand wisdom; and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear, for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

2. O beg of GOD this understanding heart; beg of him an Obedient ear and will; pray for a ten­der Conscience, and for holy Affections: beg of GOD to give thee his Holy Spirit, and to renew a right Spirit within thee; entreat him not to leave thee, nor to cease striving with thee.

3. GIVE up thy self to Him, to be taught and ruled by him, enlightned and sanctified and led by him. Yield an unfei'ned Assent and Consent to all he says; and say, —All that the Lord our God has said unto us, we will do and be Obedient. Yield up thy whole Soul to his blessed Word as to a Mould to receive the blessed Form it would stamp upon thee. With Mary sit at JESUS feet to hear his words; and say with Saul when the Light from Heaven struck him, and the Voice from Heaven called to him; Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

FINIS.

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