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turn. Now this is a tedious course to the flesh and few will bear it, not considering what patience God exercised towards us when we were in our sins, and how long he followed us with the importunities of his Spirit. Woe to us if God had been as impatient with us, as we are with our fellow-men!
VII. Self-seeking and self-minding, are, with many, a great hindrance. Men are all for themselves.
66 All mind their own things;" few “ the things of Christ,” and their brethren. Hence they are prone to say, “ Am I my brother's keeper ? Every man must answer for himself.” Hence also it is that a multitude of professors think only where they may enjoy the purest ordinances; but where they may have the fairest opportunity to win the souls of others, or in what place or way they may do most good, these things they little or nothing regard.
VIII. With many, pride is a great impediment. If it were to speak to a great man, they would do it, provided it would not displease him. But to go among the multitude, to take pains with a company of mean persons, to sit with them in their humble houses, and there to instruct them, and exhort them from day to day, where is the person that will do this ? Alas, these men little consider how low Christ stooped for us, when the God of glory comes down in flesh, and goes preaching among them from city to city! Few rich, and noble, and wise, and mighty, are called. It is the poor chiefly who receive the glad tidings of the gospel.
Lastly, With some also their ignorance of the duty hinders them from performing it. Either they know it not to be a duty, or at least not to be their duty. Perhaps they have not thought much of it, nor been urged to it by their ministers, as they have been to hearing, and praying, and other duties. If this be thy case, who readest this, that mere ignorance or inconsideration has kept thee from it, then I hope now that thou art acquainted with thy duty, thou wilt set about it without further delay. · Objection 1. O, but says one, I have such weak parts and gifts, that I am unable to manage an exhortation, especially to men of strong natural parts and understanding.
Answer. Use faithfully that ability which thou hast; not in teaching those of whom thou shouldst learn, but in instructing those that are more ignorant than thyself, and in exhorting those that are negligent in the things which they know. If you cannot speak well yourself, yet you can tell them what God speaks in his word. It is not the excellency of speech that wins souls, but the authority of God manifested by that speech, and the power of his word in the mouth of the speaker.
Objection 2. It is my superiors that need my exhortation and advice; and is it fit for me to teach or reprove them ? Must the wife teach the husband, of whom the Scripture bids her learn? Or must children teach their parents, whose duty it is to instruct them?
Answer. It is fit that husbands should be able to teach their wives, and parents to teach their children; and God expects they should do so, and therefore commands the inferiors to learn of them. But if they, through their own negligence, or wickedness bring their souls into such danger as that they have the greatest need of advice and reproof themselves, then it is themselves, and not you, that break God's order, by bringing themselves into disability and misery. Matters of mere order and manners must be dispensed with in cases of absolute necessity. Yet let me give you these two cautions :
1. That you must not pretend necessity when there is none, out of a mere desire of teaching. There is scarcely a more certain evidence of a proud heart, than to be more forward and desirous to teach than to learn, especially toward those that are fitter to teach us.
2. When the necessity of your superiors calls for your exhortation and advice, yet give it with all possible humility, and modesty, and meekness. Let them aiscern your reverence and submission to their superiority, in the humble manner of your addresses to them. Let them perceive that you do it not out of a mere teaching humour, or proud self-conceitedness. What father, or master, or husband, could take this ill ?
Objection 3. Some will further object, that the party is so ignorant, or stupid, or careless, or rooted in sin, and has been so oft exhorted in vain, that there is no hope.
Answer. How know you when there is no hope ? Cannot God yet cure him? And must it not be by means? And have not many as far gone been cured? Should not a merciful physician use means while there is life? And is it not inhuman cruelty in you to give up your friend to the devil and damnation as hopeless, upon mere backwardness to your duty, or upon groundless discouragements? What if you had been so given up to yourself when you were ignorant ?
Objection 4. But we must not « cast pearls before swine, nor give that which is holy to dogs."
Answer. This language indicates a dispensation of Christ for your own safety. When you are in danger to be torn in pieces, Christ would have you forbear; but what is that to you that are in no such danger? As long as they will hear, you have encouragement to speak, and may not cast them off.
Objection 5. Oh! but it is a friend on whom I have all my dependence; and if I tell him of his sin and misery, I may lose his love, and so be undone.
Answer. Surely no Christian will acknowledge such an objection as this. Yet, I doubt, it oft prevails in the heart. Is the love of thy friend to be more valued than his safety; or thy own benefit by him, than the salvation of his soul? Or wilt thou connive at his damnation, because he is thy friend? Is this thy requital of his kindness?
Motives to this Duty. Thirdly, To excite you to diligence in helping all about you to this blessed rest, let me entreat you to consider the following motives.
I. Consider, that nature teaches the duty of communicating good, and grace especially disposes the soul thereto; the neglect, therefore, of this work, is a sin against both nature and grace. He that should never seek after God himself, would be considered by all as graceless; and is not he as certainly graceless, that does not labour for the salvation of others, seeing we are bound to love our neighbour as ourselves? Would you not think that man or woman unnatural, who would leave their own children or neighbours to famish in the streets, while they have plenty of provisions at hand? And is not he more unnatural still, that will let his children or neighbours perish eternally, and will not open his mouth to save them? This certainly is most cruel. Now, that it may appear to you what a cruel thing this neglect of souls is, do but consider these two things,—what a great work it is which thou neglectest; and, what a small matter it is that thou refusest to do for accomplishing so great a work. First, It is to save thy brother from eternal torments. It is to bring him to everlasting rest, where he may live in inconceivable happiness with God. Secondly, What is it thou art required to do to help him herein? Why, it is to teach him, and persuade him, and lay open to him his sin, his misery, and his duty, till thou hast made him willing to yield to the offers and commands of Christ. And is this so great a matter to do, for attaining such a blessed end ? If God had bid you to give them all your estates to win them, or lay down your lives to save them, surely you would have refused, when you will not bestow a little breath to save them. Is not the soul of a husband, or wife, or child, or neighbour, worth a few words? Surely it is worth this, or it is worth nothing.
II. Consider at what a price Christ did value souls and what he has done for their salvation. He thought them worth his blood and sufferings, and shall not we then think them worth the breath of our mouths ? Will you not unite with Christ for so good a work? Will you not do a little where he has done so much?
III. Consider what fit objects of pity unconverted souls are.
It is no small misery to be an enemy of God,-unpardoned,—unsanctified,—and without hope of salvation, and exposed to everlasting misery. They are even dead in their trespasses and miseries, and have not hearts to feel them, or to pity themselves. If others do not pity them, they will have no pity on themselves; for it is the nature of their disease to make them pitiless to their own souls, yea, to make them the most cruel destroyers of themselves.
IV. Consider, the same was once thy own case Thou wast once a slave of satan thyself, and didst go on in the way to condemnation. What if thou hadst been let alone in that way? Whither hadst thou gone? And what had become of thee? It was God's argument with the Israelites to be kind to strangers, that they themselves were once strangers in Egypt; so it may persuade you to show compassion to them that are strangers to Christ, that you were once stran gers to him yourselves.
V. Consider the relation in which thou standest to them. It is thy neighbour, thy brother, whom thou art bound to be tender of, and to love as thyself. He that loves not his brother, whom he sees daily, most certainly does not love God whom he has never seen; and does he love his brother, that will stand by and see him go to hell, and never hinder him ?
VI. Consider what guilt this neglect will bring upon thy soul.
1. Thou art guilty of the blood of all those souls whom thou dost thus neglect. He that stands by, and sees a man in a pit, and will not pull him out if he