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greatest Pretenders make it only a Trick to cheap the World. Whether that Prophaneness, which hath too much of late incroached upon this Western VVorld, do not owe its Original to such Religious Pretences of Men, who, under the Name of Justice and Sanctity, have dared to do that which Heathens would have trembled át, I leave to wiser Men than my self to judge.
Only I cannot but take notice of a strange Ef fect, which our Sermons have accidentally, as the Sun doth Snakes and Serpents when shining upon unclean Dunghils, produced in the Lives of too many, of whom we might justly have expected better returns in Religion, for while we have been discouraging them from Hypocrise, they have run out into Debauchery; and while we have endeavoured to clear our Church from such as have but a Form of Godlinefs, they have made our Attempt an opportunity to indulge themselves in their Lusts, and thought, that the way to approve themselves true Members of our Church, was to Drink, Swear, and be Lewd, and to commit those Sins openly, which the other, may be, did in secret. Excellent Sons of the Church ! that, Viper-like, tear up her Bowels, and, by a kind of Gallantry fetch'd from Hell, rail at their Mother more than Shimei did at David. i may be bold to affirm, That there is no Church this day in all the Christian World, that in her Doctrine doth either encourage Real "Goodness more, or strives more to keep the Balance even, that God may have the Things which are God's, änd Man the Things which are Manos, than that we
live in: Yet to our Sorrow we find, that while we have given People leave to laugh at Religious Dissimulations, they have laughed themselves into Licentiousness; and while they have taken liberty
; to cavil at a false Religion, they have at laft learned to be averse from all that looks like Holiness. This hath made me sometime admire, what these Men do with their Reason, and that they do not presently forswear buying any more Pearls, because some there are, that sell Counterfeit ones for True; Strange! They should, to avoid one Extreme, rua into another, and to shun Deceptions in Religion, run as far from it, as the Devil can mislead them: How soon might the Folly of both Extremes be discovered, if Men were but willing to think more than they do! but while they go on in a Road
a of a few outward Duties, and consider not how unworthy of that Church and Gospel they live, whose Friends they profess themselves to be, no marvel if they fright Men away from our Aftemblies, and bring Darkness upon all the Land of Goshen.
The just Indignation I have taken at the Injuries our Church suffers from these Scandalous Men, hath been partly the occasion of this Trean tise. For I see, Men's Cures lie within their own Breasts, and that so many are fick unto Death, and ready to perish, the reason is, because they will not reflect, what unreasonable Men they are ; nor represent to themselves the Wrong they do to their Souls by a lively Consideration, as will evidently appear in the ensuing Discourse.
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I confess, divers Accomplishments which render a Book acceptable to curious Palates, such as are Rhetorick, Elegancy of Style, Fancy, Wit, and frequent Quotations of Authors, &c. will be found wanting here; but, as I profefs no Skill that way, 10 my Design was not so much to fill Men's Heads with Notions, as their Hearts with Fire. It was to engage the Ignorant and Careless substantial Improvement of their Reason: And if what I have said, can prevail with those that have lived like Beasts, to recover themselves into Men again; I both undervalue the little Censures of Supercilious Men, and content my self with that Success. We cannot all shine as Stars of the first Magnitude, in the wide Firmament of the Church; those that cannot must give such Light as they are able to dispense: I envy not our Eagles in Divinity, that they see far more than I, but thank God I see so much: And while the greater Sages offer Gold, and Myrrhe, and Frankincense, I am happy enough, if I may be allowed to bring Goats Hair, and Badgers Skins, towards the Aca complishment of the Tabernacle. A Critical Eye may spy Faults in this Free-will offering, and I do not wonder at it; for my duller Sight, now I have done, discovers more than I wish there were in't. But my Discourse is fitted to my End. Doing good is my Intent ; if I fucceed not, it's no morc but what greater Men have failed of.
CH AP. I.
Of the various Impediments and Remora's of Confideration.
Men fancy greater difficulty in't, than there is indeed.
that Conversion, in that sense the Scripture speaks
with Ministers about this neceffary Work. Delude them-
Of Retirement and Prayer, the two great belps to Confide-
ration. Retirement proved to be necesary to make Con-