I beseech you to permit a friendly plainness and freedom with you in your deepest concern. I am not playing the orator to make a learned speech to you, nor dressing the dish with eloquence in order to please you. These lines are upon a weighty errand indeed - to convince, and convert, and save you. I am not baiting my hook with rhetoric, nor fishing for your applause, but for your souls. My work is not to please you, but to save you; nor is my business with your fancies, but with your hearts. If I have not your hearts, I have nothing. If I were to please your ears, I would sing another song. If I were to preach myself, I would steer another course. I could then tell you a smoother tale; I would make pillows for you and speak peace, for how can Ahab love this Micaiah, that always prophesies evil concerning him? (1 Kgs xxii 8). But how much better are the wounds of a friend, than the fair speeches of the harlot, who flatters with her lips, till the dart strike through the liver? (Prov vii 21-23 and vi 26). If I were to quiet a crying infant, I might sing him into a happier mood, or rock him asleep; but when the child is fallen into the fire, the parent takes another course; he will not try to still him with a song or trifle. I know, if we succeed not with you, you are lost; if we cannot get your consent to arise and come away, you will perish for ever. No conversion - no salvation! I must get your good-will, or leave you miserable.
But here the difficulty of my work again occurs to me. 'O Lord, choose my stones out of the brook (1 Sam xvii 40, 45). I come in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. I come forth, like the stripling David against Goliath, to wrestle, not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph vi 12). This day let the Lord smite the Philistines, spoil the strong man of his armor, and give me the captives out of his hand. Lord, choose my words, choose my weapons for me; and when I put my hand into the bag, and take out a stone and sling it, do Thou carry it to the mark, and make it sink, not into the forehead, but into the heart of the unconverted sinner, and smite him to the ground like Saul of Tarsus (Acts ix 4).'
Some of you do not know what I mean by conversion, and in vain shall I attempt to persuade you to that which you do not understand. Therefore for your sakes I will show what conversion is.
Others cherish secret hopes of mercy, though they continue as they are. For them I must show the necessity of conversion.
Others are likely to harden themselves with a vain conceit that they are converted already. To them I must show the marks of the unconverted.
Others, because they feel no harm, fear none, and so sleep as upon the top of a mast. To them I shall show the misery of the unconverted.
Others sit still, because they do not see the way of escape. To them I shall show the means of conversion.
And finally, for the quickening of all, I shall close with the motives to conversion. (read more)