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addressee author,male,Johnson, Richard,41
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Johnson, 1794
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 (An Address &c.) Part I. I BESEECH you, brethren, suffer this word of exhortation. Your souls are precious. They are precious in the sight of God. They are precious to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are precious in my esteem. Oh that you yourselves were equally sensible of their value. 
We have now been here almost five years. During this time, I trust, I have been faithful in the discharge of my duty, faithful to my God, my country, my conscience, and to your immortal souls. 
 I would, nay I do, humbly hope, that my labours have not been wholly in vain. Some of you, I trust, have been convinced of your folly, sin and danger; you have earnestly sought, and happily found mercy with God through a Mediator. You can now approach him as a God reconciled, a merciful Father and Friend, and are evidencing the reality of you conversion, by an upright life and conversation. 
But I must express my fear, that those of you, who are thus convinced of sin, and converted to God, and reformed from your evil courses, are comparatively very few. It is too evident, that the far greater part of you discover no concern for religion. The Great God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, death, judgment, eternity, heaven and hell, - these are subjects which seldom, if at all, engage your attention; and therefore you spend days, weeks, months and years, in a profane and careless manner, though you are repeatedly informed and re- minded in the most plain, faithful, and alarm- ing language I can use, that the wages of sin, without repentance, is death, the curse of God, and the eternal ruin and damnation of your souls!  
Oh, I intreat you, brethren, to consider what is contained in these two words, salvation and damnation! The one implies every thing that an immortal soul can want or de- sire to make it happy. The other includes an idea, the most gloomy and dreadful that can be conceived. The former will be the admiration of angels, and the song and joy of the redeemed; the latter will be the torment of devils, and of all impenitent sinners, for ever and ever. 
Remember likewise, that ere long, either this endless inconceivable happiness, or unutterable misery will be your portion, or your doom, and mine. Our glass of life is running away apace. Our time is fast hastening to a period. Death is making sure and speedy strides towards us daily, judgment is at hand, and the judge himself is at the door. And oh! consider, when the breath we now draw shall depart, the tender thread of life be cut, our state will be unalterably and for ever fixed; either to live with God, with angels, and glorified saints, in heaven; or to dwell with devils, in the darkness and torments of hell.  
On these accounts your souls are, as I have already observed, very precious, not only in the sight of God, but also to me. My brethren, God is my record, how greatly I long after you all, in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Next to the salvation of own foul, nothing in this world lies so near my heart, as the conversion and salvation of my fellow creatures; and especially of you, over whom I am appointed more immediately to watch, as one who must give an account.  
And oh, my friends, if this affectionate, though plain address, should answer my ardent wishes and prayers, if it should prove the happy means of converting even one soul to God, I should indeed rejoice, as one that findeth great spoil. For once, at least, endeavour to lift up your hearts with me in prayer to Almighty God, the bountiful giver of all grace. He only can make this or any other means effectual; and should it please Him of his abounding mercy to make a saving impression upon your hearts, you will reap the happy fruits of it in life, at death, and to eternity. Oh that the gracious spirit of the Lord may open the eyes and the ears of all who may read or hear what I am writ- ing. May they who are asleep, awake! May they who are spiritually dead, be made alive! 
 May backsliders from God be reclaimed! May every one be stirred up to consider, What will become of him in another world! For who amongst us can dwell with everlasting burnings? Yet such must be our lot, unless we repent. May the Lord God give, to each of you, repentance unto life, that you may be holy in this world, and happy in that which is to come! 
My brethren, I trust I can say in truth, and with a sincere conscience, That I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is a knowledge, and I hope an inward experience of this precious gospel, that bears up my spirits when I am ready to sink as in deep waters, and when I am almost overwhelmed by the many heavy and daily trials, crosses, difficulties and disappointments, that I meet with in this, alas! most uncomfortable situation. An acquaintance with this gospel, an experience of its truth and power, sweetens every bitter, makes my crosses comforts, and my losses gains. It is by this knowledge that I am enabled to bear the cross of Christ, not only with some degree of patience and resignation, but at some seasons, with consolation and joy; while I at one time reflect on what our dear Lord and Saviour endured for me, and at another anticipate the unspeakable honour and pleasure, which, through grace, I hope ere long to enjoy at his right hand for evermore. And to endeavour to bring you, my dear friends, to a saving knowledge of what is contained in this gospel, is not only my duty and inclination as a minister, but also my earnest desire and pleasure, and that which I long for more than for any other thing that can be named.  
I have often explained to you, according to my sentiments, what is contained in the gospel. But as I fear, and am indeed well aware, that many of you, after all you have heard, still remain ignorant, I will now tell you again briefly and plainly, what my views of the gospel are; that by putting this book into your hands, you may, if you please, more carefully and attentively examine and search for yourselves, whether what I lay before you be agreeable to the holy scriptures, or otherwise; and consequently, whether you ought to believe, or to reject it.  
The gospel, I conceive, in its most extensive sense, comprehends the whole revealed will of God, recorded in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament. 
This sacred book, which we call the Bible, describes the original state of man, as a state of perfect purity and innocence. He was made in the image of God. He was made upright. His understanding, will, his affections and conscience, his body and soul, were free from defilement, guilt, or guile, and while he continued so, he was not liable to pain, misery, or death.  
But man did not continue in this state. Our first parents disobeyed their Maker. By sinning against God they lost their original righteousness, and became earthly, sensual, devilish. Such are all his posterity: for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Man is now the very reverse of what he was when first created. His understanding is darkened, yea darkness itself; his will, his carnal mind, is enmity against God; his conscience is defiled; his afflictions, no longer fixed upon God his Creator and Benefactor, are engrossed by the vain and perishing things of this world; by sin his body is become mortal. Subject to pain, disease, and death; and his soul is exposed to the displeasure of God, and to the curse annexed to the transgressions of his holy law. All this misery is implied in that awful threatening, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  
And is not this threatening, at least in part, already put into execution? Whence is there so much ignorance and contempt of God? Why do mankind so eagerly, so universally pursue the vain pleasures and follies of the world, while they seldom think of God their Maker? From whence proceed the infidelity, blasphemy, lying, theft, sabbath-breaking, slandering and the many horrid evils, which every where abound? Whence is it that so many in this colony, labour under such sore and complicated disorders, pains, and miseries? Why are so many, both young and old, taken away by death? And why is it that others who see all those things, do not take warning by them, to prepare for their own latter end? Brethren, all these are so many undeniable proofs and evidences of what I have said; namely, that we are fallen and guilty creatures.  These are the effects of Adam's sin and disobedience. The certain consequences of which would have been unavoidable and endless misery, both of soul and body, to himself and all his posterity, had not some means been provided, some way laid open, for his and their recovery. 
But, blessed be God, a door of hope is opened by the gospel for miserable sinners! A gracious promise was given early, even to our first parents, immediately after their fall. The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head. This promised seed is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, in due time, was to appear in the world, to be born of a woman, that by his life, sufferings, and obedience unto death, he might recover fallen man from the misery and ruin in which he was involved. Brethren, this gospel which, as the ministers and ambassadors of God, we are commissioned and commanded to preach to sinners, proposes a free and gracious pardon to the guilty, cleansing to the polluted, healing to the sick, happiness to the miserable, light for those who sit in darkness, strength for the weak, food for the hungry, and even life for the dead.  
All these inestimable blessings are the fruits and effects of the death and mediation of Jesus Christ. His great design in coming into the world was to seek and to save those who are lost; he came from heaven, that he might raise us to those holy and happy mansions; he endured the curse, that we might inherit the blessing; he bore the cross, that we might wear the crown; he died, that we might live; he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. 
These blessings become ours, only by believing, or faith. Thus it is said, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son - For what purpose? Why, That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,- he that believeth in him is not condemned;- he that believeth in him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness. My friends, search the scriptures, and you will find that this is the tenor of the whole Bible; I may add of our church also, in the Articles and Homilies. This believing is sometimes called a coming to Christ, a looking unto Christ, a trusting in him, a casting our burden upon him. And remember, that until we do thus come to Christ, trust in him, cast our cares and bur- dens upon him, we have no part or interest in what the gospel unfolds and offers; how- ever others, who have believed, and daily act faith upon him, are rejoicing in the participation of those rich benefits and blessings which the gospel freely offers to guilty and perishing sinners.  
The faith whereby a sinner receives Christ, and becomes a partaker of all the blessings of the gospel, is the sole gift of God, wrought in the heart by his Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit produces an inward change in the soul, called, in the scripture, the new birth, regeneration, or conversion, and thus enables a sinner, convinced of his sin and misery, to look to Jesus, and to believe on him. 
But though repentance and faith are the gifts of God, which none can obtain by any endeavours of their own, yet we are encouraged and commanded to pray for them. 
All who have thus, through grace, believed, and are daily living a life of faith in the Son of God, shall be saved: but such as carelessly neglect, or wilfully reject this gospel must be damned. Think, I beseech you, of this! Remember, that it is the solemn declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ himself.  
Now is the time to obtain the blessings revealed in the gospel, and which are set before you when it is preached. Many have had these gracious declarations made to them, before we were born, and they will be repeated to many after we are dead. But this is our day. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. To-day - for you and I may not live to see to-morrow. To day; if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. My brethren, it is your duty, your wisdom, and will finally prove to be your greatest happiness, to seek an interest in this salvation for yourselves. It is your personal, and must be your heart concern, to make your calling and election sure. 
 For death will soon put a period to all the overtures of grace and mercy, with which many, and particularly you, are now favoured. It is as I have said, both my duty and my pleasure, to preach and proclaim these glad tidings. But to whom? Not to the dead, but to the living; even to you. To you is the word of the salvation sent. But, alas! should you still put it from you, and should death at last find you in an unprepared state, it will then be too late for you to begin to cry for mercy. 
A day is likewise coming, when our mortal bodies, which must shortly moulder into dust, will be raised again from the dead. Whether believers or unbelievers, whether saints or sinners, we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. For the Lord Jesus will shortly appear in the clouds of heaven, the last trumpet shall sound, the graves shall open, the sea give up her dead, and all who have lived upon earth, from the creation to the final consummation of time, will then be judged, and rewarded or punished according to their works. Mark well St. John's re- presentation of this solemn transaction, \"I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. / " Such are the declarations of scripture respecting this awful season! Sinners, whatever you may now think of these things, or think or say of me, for declaring them to you, in this, plain and solemn manner, I must and will tell you, that there is not a profane oath which you have uttered, nor a lie which you have told, nor a sabbath which you have broken, nor a single act of adultery, fornication, theft, or any wickedness of which you have been guilty; in a word, there is not an evil you have committed, nor a duty you have omitted to perform, but what is noted down in the book of God's remembrance, and will be produced against you in the day of judgment, unless you repent, and believe the gospel. You must then give an account how you improved the advantages now afforded you, for attending to the things pertaining to your peace. If you do not improve them, the Bible will condemn you, every faithful sermon you have heard will condemn you, nay, every sermon which you might have heard, but would not, because you despised and neglected the ordinances of public worship, will condemn you: And alas! this address, by which I try to warn you, because I love you, and wish well to your souls; which you are now reading, or perhaps, about to throw aside with scorn, will then condemn you. The admonitions, intreaties, prayers, and tears of godly parents, the advice and reproofs of pious friends, the warning and expostulations of faithful ministers, will all witness against you. My brethren, what shall I say? The law of God, the gospel, saints, sinners, angels, your own con- sciences, the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, the great Judge himself, will all witness against you, for your contempt and neglect of that mercy and salvation, which are let before you in the gospel.  
Then all ungodly and impenitent sinners, being tried, cast, and condemned, must hear that final terrible sentence pronounced upon them, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels! And remember that those who have been your associates in wickedness here, will then be your companions in misery. This will, if possible, aggravate your torment. You and they will rue the day when you first met; and mutually charge the ruin of your souls upon each other. Oh, think of this, and pray for grace to repent, before it be too late.  
At that solemn season, the righteous shall be publicly and fully acquitted before the assembled world. The judge will say to them, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world. The holy angels will then conduct them to the mansions of eternal bliss. Happy souls! They will then have no more cause to weep and mourn, to fight and wrestle. They will no more be exercised with darkness or temptation; for sin, which is the cause of all their conflicts and sorrows, shall be done away; and God their gracious Father, and everlasting Friend, shall wipe all tears from their eyes. 
The righteous, however obscured and reproached upon earth, shall then shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  They are represented to us, as standing before the throne, clothed in white robes, with palm- branches (the emblems of victory) in their hands, and singing to their harps their Redeemer's praise. There they will join in company with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with the apostles, prophets, and martyrs, with their dear friends and relatives, who died in the faith before them, and with the glorious angels; and above all, (without which heaven itself would be no heaven to them) they will enjoy the unclouded presence of their Lord and Saviour, who once suffered pain, and shame, and death for them. They will see him seated upon a throne of glory, and unite with all the heavenly host, in ascribing salvation, glory, and honour, and praise to him who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood; and has made them kings and priests to God, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever. 
 For the joys of heaven, and the pains of hell will be eternal. Otherwise, indeed, neither the happiness nor the misery of a future state could be complete. It would damp the joys of the blessed, to apprehend that they must at length terminate. And the horrors of the damned would be in a degree alleviated, if there was the most distant prospect that they would have a period. But the word of God assures us, that believers, after death, enter into life eternal, and that the punishment of the wicked will be everlasting. 
I have now given you a summary of the great truths, which, as a minister of the gospel, I am commissioned and commanded to preach. And I can call God and your consciences to witness, that I have not shunned thus to declare to you the whole counsel of God. I have explained to you the meaning, and I have urged the importance of these things over and over. I have pointed out to you, the wretched and dangerous condition of sinners, the necessity of conversion or the new birth, the nature of this change, and by what power it is wrought, and the fruits and effects which such a change will produce in a man's tempers, words and actions. I have also shewn you the way, in which you may and must be saved, if you are saved at all. I have told you again and again, that Christ is the Way, the truth, and the life, and that there is no coming to God with comfort, either in this world, or in that which is to come, but by him. He has told you so himself. And the apostle assures you, that there is no other name under heaven, given unto men, whereby they can be saved. Look unto him, and you shall be saved; if not, you must be damn- ed. This is the plain truth, the express declaration of the Bible. Life and death are set before you.  Permit me then, as your minister, your friend, and a well-wisher to your souls, to press these serious and weighty considerations home upon your consciences once more. I hope and believe that I have affected nothing, but what can be proved by the highest authority, the word of the living God. They certainly deserve your closest and most careful attention, since it is plain beyond a doubt, that upon your knowledge or ignorance, your acceptance or rejection of this gospel, your everlasting happiness or misery must depend. 
Brethren, I do not ask you, what religious persuasion or denomination you have espoused. I fear, that, if I may judge of your hearts by your actions, too many are destitute of any sense of religion at all. But I do not address you as Churchmen or Dissenters, Roman Catholics or Protestants, as Jews or Gentiles; I suppose, yea, I know, that there are persons of every denomination amongst you. But I speak to you as men and women, as intelligent creatures, possessed of understanding and reason. I speak to you as mortals, and yet immortals; as sinners, who have broken the laws of God, and are therefore obnoxious to his displeasure. And my sole aim and desire is, to be instrumental in turning you from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from the power of Satan to the service and favour of God.  
Seek then, I beseech you, above all things, an interest in the blessings of the gospel. Be assured it is a matter of much less moment, whether you are rich or poor, respected or despised in this world. The rich have their cares, fears, crosses, and vexations, no less than the poor; but admitting that they could pass through life with greater ease than others, we all know that they cannot escape death. The great point is, how we shall die? whether as believers or unbelievers, as saints or sinners. One soul, according to our Lord's declaration, is of more value than the whole world. If you lose your soul, you lose all at once. You lose heaven and happiness for ever. Whatever, therefore, you do, or leave undone, for God's sake, and for your own sakes, neglect not for one day or hour longer, the vast concerns of another life. Delays are dangerous. The more we have to risk or lose, the greater folly it would be accounted, to defer securing our property and goods, which we know to be in danger. What folly, therefore, what madness must it be, to put off with careless indifference, the concernments of eternity; and to prefer the trifles of this transitory life to heaven, and the favour of God! Let the parable of the rich man, who pleased himself with the thought of having much good laid up for many years, be a warning to you! That very night his soul was required of him. Such persons may now deem themselves wise;  but ere long they will be sensible they were fools.  
It you consider what a valuable price was paid for our redemptions you must be convinced that the soul of man is very precious in the sight of God, and that sin is not so light and small an evil, as many of you have sup- posed. To disobey the commandments of the just and holy God, is, as far as in us lies, to renounce our allegiance to him, and our dependence upon him, and to set up for our- selves, and even to join with the devil in open rebellion against our Maker. It is, in plain terms, to fly in his face, and to bid defiance to his almighty arm. Sin is such a horrid evil, that unless it is forgiven, and blotted out, by the blood of Jesus, it will sink your souls lower than the center of the earth, even into the very depths of hell, never, never, never more to rise. 
 So heinous was sin, in the sight of God, that rather than permit it to pass unpunished, he would punish it in the person of his own, his only, his well-beloved Son, who was made sin, that is, treated as a sinner deserved to be treated, for us. He was delivered up into the hands of wicked men, and crucified, that by his suffering and death, he might make atonement for our sins, and procure an honourable and happy reconciliation, between a righteous God, and offending sinners I beseech you, therefore, to prize and to study this gospel, that you may obtain a growing experience of its benefits. Praise God for such a Saviour, and such a salvation as he has provided. Adore him, for that infinite wisdom, and boundless mercy which he has displayed in the redemption of fallen man and never rest, nor be satisfied, till you have good and scriptural reason to hope, that this Saviour is yours, with all the blessings he is exalted to bestow without money and without price. 
 Our food, my brethren, then only can nourish us, when it is eaten and digested. Medicines can only profit us, by being applied and taken. It is exactly thus with the gospel. We may hear, and talk of these things, but so long as they remain matters of speculation, and do not enter into our hearts, into the very vitals of our souls, (if I may so speak) we cannot be the better for them. Christ is the bread of life. His flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed! But unless we ourselves do spiritually eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man (for our Lord speaks of food for the soul, not for the body) we have no life in us. 
Moses, by the express command of God, erected a brazen serpent upon a pole, in the view of the camp of Israel. Such of the people as were stung by the fiery serpents, were directed and commanded to look up to the brazen serpent. They who did so were healed. But if any resisted, they were sure to die. For no other means or physicians could relieve them. In like manner Christ Jesus our Saviour, once lifted up on the cross, is exhibited in the preaching of the gospel. Sinners, who are wounded and diseased by sin, are directed, exhorted, encouraged, and commanded to look up to him. And they who are persuaded so to do, are infallibly cured of all those spiritual maladies, under which they have long and sorely laboured. But all, who despise and reject this sovereign remedy of God's gracious appointment, either by a total indifference to religion, or by expecting salvation in any other way, will be left, and that most deservedly, to perish in their wilful obstinacy and unbelief.  (An Address &c.) Part II 
In the former part of this address, I have already laid before you, in the plainest manner I was able, my views of the gospel of Christ. And as an experimental knowledge of this gospel is so very important, I have endeavoured to press that importance upon your consciences. Whether you have paid that attention to the subject, which it deserves and requires, yourselves best know. I can only say, that if I did not know it to be of great weight, I should not either speak or write of it with so much earnestness. But being persuaded and assured, by the express testimony of the holy scriptures, that these things are true; and truths, the knowledge of which is essential to your present and future happiness, I must be plain and faithful in declaring them. I ought to be very indifferent what men of depraved morals, and corrupt principles may say, or think of me, if I have the witness of a good conscience, and the approbation of the God whom I serve. My concern is for your welfare and salvation; for I am certain, as I have told you before, and now tell you again, that unless the gospel is made the power of God to your souls, you must be miserable in time, and to eternity.  
I propose now to give you some advices, to assist you in understanding the gospel for yourselves, which if you observe, I trust, you will attain to the possession of those principles, and walk by those rules, which will both afford you present peace, and secure your future happiness. For godliness has promises pertaining to the life that now is, and to that which is to come.