by John Flavel
My charity commands me to suppose, that some readers stand, by this time convicted in their own consciences, both of the extreme wickedness, and the immediate danger of that profane course they have hitherto pursued, and persisted in; and that by this time they begin to interrogate them in the apostle's close and cutting language, Rom. 6:21. "What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of these things is death." It is hard to imagine, that so many close debates and reasonings, as you have heard in the former part, should not leave many of you under conviction and trouble of spirit. You see, your own reasons and consciences have condemned you; "And if our heart condemn us, (saith the apostle) God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things;" 1 John 3:20. It is folly to imagine you shall be acquitted at God's immediate bar, who are already cast and condemned at your own privy sessions.
If this be the happy effect, as I hope it is, of all the former close and solemn debates with your consciences, it will naturally and immediately cast thy soul, reader, into great admiration of, and astonishment at, the patience and long-suffering of God, that hath borne with thee, under a life of prodigious and reiterated provocations until this day. And his goodness will be as admirable to thee, as his patience; in that he hath not only suffered thee to live till this day, but made it the day of thy conviction, the first necessary step towards thy conversion; and the very first things he entertains thy convinced and troubled soul with, to be the possibility and probability of thy conversion to God.
The greatness of his patience shews his almighty power, Rom 9:22. Nahum 1:3 but his willingness to pass by all the wrongs you have done him, and to be at peace with you, discovers the immense riches of his grace, Tit. 3:3, 4.
Table of Contents
I. Conviction supposed, and grace admired
II. Conversion of the vilest sinner possible
III. The conversion of profane ones highly probable
IV. Conversion frequently and fatally mistaken
V. Of the nature of true conversion
VI. Of the hazards attending conversion
VII. Of the absololute necessity of a thorough change
VIII. Every man might do more than he doth, towards his own conversion
IX. Temptation and discouragements in the way of conversion